Well, this won't take long...
We forget that it's the Do-we-still-call-it-The-Ladies'-or-is-it-now-The-Women's? final day at Wimbledon but as luck would have it, manage to tune in just as the Ladies/Women are popping a few looseners across the net at one another. I've not really followed this year's tournament at all - impromptu post-Murray-exit champagne buffet celebrations aside - and all I knew about today's finalists was that Petra Kvitova (Vanessa Redgrave stars in 'Miranda: the movie') had already won Wimbledon once despite being a mere 24 whilst her opponent Eugenie Bouchard (Bridget Jones: tennis legend. Excellent!), aged even younger, was appearing in her first final and is the first Canadienne (is that a real word?) to reach this stage since....erm, ever? Bouchard was also, by all accounts, somewhat of a golden girl and a bit of a stunner.
Sisterhood being - as I fervently believe it to be - global, all this strident competitiveness, muscle-flexing and grunting and so on sits a little uneasily with the deeply buried unreconstructed hippy within me that feels that somewhere between Julie Christie's train belting off to London while Tom Courtenay haplessly grapples with a milk carton dispenser on the platform of Manchester Piccadilly in 'Billy Liar' and Madonna's 'Justify my love' video, something kind of got lost. Surely, this same voice quietly insisted, the Ladies/Women might ultimately be of more use to 'the struggle' if they could patiently help improve one another's cross court backhand as a symbol of their refusal to indulge the fallacy of male-serving hierarchy that is winning and losing and which pretty soon spirals into negative self-image and wilful submission to the patriarchal hegemony, before heading off arm in arm to deliver leaflets about Female Genital Mutilation to the pre-consciousness residents of Earlsfield. But both Ladies/Women looked pretty intent upon battling this thing out, so who were we to object?
The George Peppard-haired 'Guest Umpire' - another Eastern European sounding lady and one who seemed unable to pronounce her Vs (and several other consonants) soon called the warm up to a close. 'She's a lesbian' insists S. She seems to have a nose for these things, so who am I to doubt her wisdom? The camera zoomed in on an attractive brunette in the crowd wearing an attractive purple and green garland. 'She's not a lesbian', so we I assume her to be the Canadienne (I'm sure I've seen it spelled like that somewhere before) First Lady/Woman. Sadly no Cliff Richard though, that I could see, possibly buried deep beneath a 40 year super injunction somewhere in the Mutual Extradition Treaty-free Bahamas. (Well, you can't be too careful nowadays, especially when you're so obviously innocent.) So unfortunately, should it start raining as it's threatening to do, we'll have to make do without a 'Batchelor boy' singalong this year. And then, with no further ado, we were off.
The first two games go with serve then, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, we are suddenly at Aantage Kitoa who wins the next point to break Bouchard, who seemingly still in warmy-uppy mode. It was pretty much all down hill from there for poor Eugenie, which is a big shame as I had been quietly rooting for her. Not, as you no doubt suspect, because of her looks - although yes, she is very lovely. No, I once had a pleasant encounter in New York with an elderly lady/woman called Eugenie. She'd seen me taking - as you do when you've never seen a building higher than a lampost before - photographs of Manhattan bulidings that to me looked absolutely like nothing I'd ever seen but which must have seemed to her little more than everyday. So, we walked along I forget which of the numbered avenues together chatting for about twenty minutes and it was all very delightful. And they say that New York streets are cold and unwelcoming.
Anyway, this other Eugenie pretty soon looked as if she would rather be mentally sauntering up one of the New York avenues - or anywhere - other than where she was, on centre court, getting a serious whupping from a so-called sister who seemed to be treating it as her sorolial duty to pulverise Miss Bouchard, take every Eugenie service game to aantage, break her sere and then win the second set to loe. Which she duly did. Indeed, the camera seemed to spend more time scanning the Preious Winners' Enclosure, focussing in on such luminaries as Martina Naratiloa ('Definitely a lesbian'), Hanna Mandikoa and Irginia Wade - oh, mustn't forget Canada's First Lady/Woman, who in addition to holding that spectacularly powerful position in Canadienne affairs of state, seems to have been last year's winner. That's multi-tasking for you.
The game - rarely has the word seemed so utterly inappropriate - gamed, the set setted, the match matched by Miss Kitoa by way of a stunningly emphatic cross court base stroke, the whole proceedings came shuddering to a halt in less than an hour. This seemed to take everyone unawares as there quickly followed an announcement that the traditional plate handing over session - incidentally, why is it that the guys get a beautifully wrought golden cup with handles and a lid and a base (*and* a plate?) and all the Ladies/Women get is something to serve the sandwiches on? Is it still actually 1876 but we've not been told? - would be delayed so that they could wind the roof over the court. As it was, this proved a pretty good call and not just because - as the otherwise impeccably courteous and 'on message' John McEnroe suggested - it would allow time for the Ladies/Women to get the stylists in and possibly glam themselves up for the dishing out of the plates. I certainly felt a few barely perceptible droplets of water when I went outside looking for an excuse not to have to hang the washing out. Never let it be said of us Brits that we don't love our royals enough to spare them the smallest inconvenience.
Sue Barker - seemingly oblivious to Sir Cliff's absence, but if she was missing him, bravely carrying on regardless - did her usual MC act. The Tournament Referee, who looks as if he may conceivably have been put into cyrogenic storage after every Wimbledon since the first one - but in a good way, was very gentlemanly and had a few consoling words for Eugenie. Georgina Peppard even got a gong - petri dish? - despite her barely comprehensible contribution - first serice?? Second serice? What *is* she on about? The Ladies/Women at the centre of it all, whilst not exactly on hugging terms were about as consoling/congratulatory as you can conceivably be when you know you're going to be trying to do exactly what the other one has just done to you/doing what you've just done to the other one again in about four days time. That's the modern professional tennis circuit for you. But at least from now on they'll both have something smart to hand the pickled gherkins round on.