Last night I free-wheeled back home most of the way. Enjoying the welcome breeze of coasting downhill on a bike and the foreign luxury of short sleeves and flip flops at night time. Wending my way through the empty streets and cosetted in the late June not quite yet darkness of 10.30pm. Occasional sounds seep from the houses. Student bass and conversation spilling out into the warm summer night. After the Halal Supermarket, a beacon of light and life on Cricket Road, I passed a Pakistani family with a sleeping toddler in the buggy and dozy children who gazed at me with sleep-craving stares. The dad said hi and the salwar kameezed women glanced up then lowered their eyes.
Hated the sticky stuffy heat in the office during the day, but loved the tropical feel of the evening. Job done for the day, I popped home to pick up my bike, change my top, and locate a chilled bottle of the old vino in the fridge. Put on my sunglasses (recently and joyfully rediscovered in my anorak pocket) to add to my delusion of being somewhere more exotic. Bring on such times as these.
Whiled away the evening at Andy and Ruth’s watching The Tennis. Eating egg fried rice, drinking cold white wine, and feeling absolutely no obligation to talk or to move. Appreciating the cornflower blue in the windowsill’s vase of un-polished flowers from their allotment, and the soothing sight and sounds of Wimbledon. The enthusiastic crowd, the ooh-ing and the ah-ing, the Quiet Please, the quality tennis. The other day I put Wimbledon on in the background just to drop my stress levels, remembering Granny setting aside the tennis fortnight as her annual sacred space.
Cheering for the other guy, as all good Brits do, we shook off the day in front of the Nadal/Del Potro game. This is the week when a whole nation lets ourselves hope that maybe, just maybe, this will be Murray’s year. Leaving behind the dashed Henman hopes of years gone by, we dare ourselves to believe that it may just happen this time around. That chance may be a fine thing. That pigs may just fly. Touching wood.
It’s ever so British to know what we want in June: a Wimbledon win and 25 degrees. But in the same way that 25 degrees – or whatever it was yesterday – phases us, I doubt we’d actually know what to do if a Brit did get crowned champion. We’re great wishful thinkers, good at hoping for what we don’t already have, but I imagine we’d lack the euphoric celebrations that I remember from my days in Madrid when a football win kept the whole city up all night partying.
Still, I went to bed with my window wide open, my mind full of Wimbledon and hoping for more balmy summer evenings.
With British resignation, and not too much surprise, I woke up to grey skies the following day. Ah well.