Wimbledon’s annual bum fest is upon us, the time of year when we shout love without guilt. Pretty young things bouncing along a base line, faces flicking right and metronome left, abundant beauty and no sign of teenage angst. If only life could be like an Anna Kournikova victory in the third set against a bigger, broader gruntier girl, a girl like Paul O’Connell. And that match would be played in a tired hushed warm evening with the crowd thinned down to the genuine and pleasing brilliant white toothed smiling few and me. And volleys and Cliff Richard, boy girl doubles where only bastards hit the ball too hard at the girl, and the nice boys do a funny soccer thing with the tennis ball. Sets won regularly 15-13, and the smiles between games hinting at a relationship. I like when they adopt that sexy Australian configuration; head down for the furious boy service and then the volleys, foaming volleys at the net.
But it’s the bottoms, it strips bare to a battle of bums. Of course others watch stuff and stuff their faces with creamy strawberries and quaff pimms, but I linger, I loiter with the swaying bottoms. Girls have contributed shot putters, weight lifters, sprinters and long jumpers God bless them all, but if there’s one uniquely feminine sport which soars in the pantheon of Olympic endeavour, it’s the battle of bottoms. And lest this blog be accused of misogynism, these bums have names like Miss Maria Sharapova and Miss Ana Ivanovic and not Miss Martina Navratilova. The Queen of bounce on the thread bare base line was Anna and when she retired, some of us cried salty tears and tried to watch the GAA instead, but it was never the same.