My Time at Wimbledon


Having blogged extensively about Wimbledon for a fortnight, you might think that I wouldn’t want to write more about it. Indeed, I can hardly imagine that any of you that have been following the Postcards from Wimbledon blog are really in the mood to read any more of it.

However, I think, maybe just for the preservation of my own memories, I can permit myself to write a few lines reflecting on the project as a whole.

It was a real blast working amid the hectic bustle of an office full of sport journos. While I thought that I might get to amble around the grounds and pen one carefully drafted ode a day, I found myself churning out new material at breakneck speed. Most of the material I wrote, if I do say so myself, was quite good too. Over my eight days on duty at the blog, I averaged a tally of at least two new poems and 1500 words worth of blogging a day. Not only that, but I also found time to head out with a camera crew ( well, by crew I mean Will or Ben) and make a film of one of my newly minted verses. A few times this involved me standing on my own on Hogarth Hill Henman Hill, among some inebriated members of the upper-middle classes, reciting poems as the camera zoomed in on me from the bottom of the hill.

I did pretty much the exact same shoot for BBC1 for their tennis coverage. It finally emerged slightly after 1pm and I wasn’t around to catch it. Luckily, some family members in Ireland and some unemployed poets bore witness to my moment of national exposure, though it’s doubtful I ever will.

I also made an appearance on the BBC World Service and the people there were kind enough to send an mp3 of my interview, available for your listening pleasure below. While the people at the World Service were lovely, the actual interviewer himself wasn’t. He walked about the Hill like Chris Tucker in the Fifth Element and seemed to expect us all to follow in his wake, like eager students taking in an audience with Socrates. Bear witness to the wonderful moment where he puts me on the spot and requests a poem from me mentioning the name of the show. I didn’t have a bloody clue what show I was on, and wasn’t going to be bullied. The haiku I ended up reading out was actually written just before the interview after consulting with the producer.

I do wonder if when people interview fire-fighters, do they set something on fire and demand “Put that out!”?

The bubble of interest from the media soon popped, especially after declining a few offers that seemed to involve me reading or writing new work. At the end of the day, I was being paid to write new material by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and wasn’t going to give any freebie scoops to other parties.

Each day I arrived on site before the rest of the office arrived, buzzing from the double espresso that I necked on the walk from the station. From there I could look over the courts and the site, deserted and quiet and wait for inspiration to arrive. On one morning, inspiration arrived in the form of a falcon chick called Finnegan, one of Wimbledon’s working birds of prey.

It was a sad moment indeed when I left the site for the final time. I had been so busy for the past few weeks, scouting the grounds for things to write about, sitting in on the press conferences and watching a few classic games of tennis including the epic men’s final. If there is a player that has made a lifelong fan of me it has to be Andy Roddick. Not only was this guy absolutely hilarious in press conferences, he was an absolute legend on the court. So impressed was I by his dealing with allegations that he had Rick Astley on his iPod, as well as his warrior spirit on court.

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