Thursday, July 5, 2012

An unforgettable day out at Wimbledon

I just love Wimbledon tennis tournament. It's my favourite sporting event in the year. I have been a few times, especially when I was younger, but the most memorable was the time I took my Mum about 5 years ago. She had been helping me a lot with the kids (well, she always did that) and I wanted to give her a special treat. A lovely day out that the two of could remember. Well, it was certainly unforgettable.



It started off okay. The weather wasn't great but that was nothing new in rainy old England. We hoped the grey clouds would disappear later, as they sometimes did. We decided to park at our local railway station and catch the train up after the morning rush hour. Taking British Rail is not a delightful experience at the best of times, with the grimy seats, oily headrests, scratched windows and smelly compartments, but add to that the crush of hot, sweaty human bodies and it is just about unbearable. We managed to find a relatively clean seat and settled ourselves for the 45 min journey to Wimbledon Station, where we were hoping to ride a shuttle to the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Club. The best laid plans and all that.

Photographer: Ian Britton FreeFoto.com
First of all, our train stopped 10 mins out from Wimbledon and didn't start again. There was a problem on the track ... again. Probably the "wrong sort of summer weather" or some such nonsense. When it was obvious the train wasn't going anywhere anytime soon, we decided to share a taxi with a very nice lady sitting opposite who was also going to see the tennis. Congratulating ourselves on our resourcefulness, we exited the cab a mere 30 minutes later and £50 poorer, but felt it was worth it. We didn't want to miss any of the fabulous tennis now, did we? We needn't have worried. After being ripped off big time with the famous strawberries and cream at over £10 a go (3 large, unripe strawberries with the green stalks still attached, crammed into a tiny cardboard container with thin, watery cream drizzled over them is not a treat!), the heavy clouds that had been threatening to burst all day decided that the starting game of the tennis would be an excellent time to dump their loads.

Luckily, our seats were so far back that we actually had cover under the overhang. It just meant we needed binoculars to see the players. Still, we were there. Wimbledon. Home of the most famous tennis tournament in the world. The magic of the place was tangible. We tried to ignore the discomfort of the tiny, hard, green seats, positioned much too close together. It was cosy. The body heat of the person squashed next to you helped with the wind whipping round the court. Mum and I huddled together and tried to make the best of it. That is, until the monster blow-up man, and his enormous son, appeared and plonked himself next to me. He wore a purple blazer and was huge. Well, I say "wore" but how he squeezed himself into it, I will never know, unless he was normal-sized and then someone pumped him full of air once he'd put it on, which is what it looked like. Having wedged himself in the seat next to mine by shoving me against my Mum so I ended up sitting at an angle, he then proceeded to eat continually for the next 2 hours. I don't think he paused once. He started with crisps, then a sandwich, then shortbread biscuits, then sweets in crackling paper. On and on and on. Crumbs scattered on his chest like edible dandruff, wrappers everywhere like discarded skins, his elbow banging into me with every mouthful. I kept wanting to stab him with a sharp instrument to see if he exploded and flew off round the court like a giant balloon deflating. Actually, I just wanted to stab him.

When Venus Williams had gone off three times with rain breaks, we decided to give up and go and get a large drink. Pimms was the order of the day. That would cheer us up. A pitcher later and we were definitely feeling a bit happier. It was still pissing down, so we settled ourselves into the tea tent and guzzled stale scones, with jam and clotted cream. Now we just felt a bit queasy. We kept hoping for the weather to clear up but eventually gave up around 7pm after only seeing about an hour or so's tennis. Enough not to get a refund on my tickets, but not enough to make the trip worthwhile.

Hoping to end the day on a bit of a high, I suggested we have dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant in Wimbledon village. Mum was looking tired, wet and hungry. I tried to hail a cab. Well, that was like trying to find a polar bear in a snowstorm. The queues were horrendous. Not going to happen. We took off walking, thinking it couldn't be too far. It was. About a couple of miles. Mum, bless her, was doing her best not to complain but her shoes were hurting and by the time we got to the restaurant she was hobbling.

After waiting in line for a table, we finally sat down, exhausted, and looking forward to a delicious plate of steaming pasta. For some unknown reason, Mum decided to order the special on the advice of the overbearing waiter. I think she was just too tired to argue. When it arrived it looked horrible and I could tell she didn't enjoy it. She left most of it, saying she wasn't hungry, but I knew it must have been bad as we hadn't eaten all day except for the horrible strawberries and stales scones.

I paid the exorbitant bill and we dragged ourselves to the station. No point even thinking of getting a taxi with the rain still coming down and people pouring out of Wimbledon. We had to change trains a couple of times on the way home and at Guildford there was about a 30 minute wait. Both of us were bursting for a wee. We couldn't wait. We rushed for the ladies toilet only to find they were all locked. Locked? What the hell? The freezing platforms were deserted. Where were all the staff? We found them playing cards cosily in the staff room. By this time, Mum was red in the face and looking like she was about to have an accident. I burst in and demanded to know why the loos were all locked. They were all men and they all looked up, as one, to stare at me in horror, as if I was some mad woman talking in tongues. Well, I was mad.

"Why are the toilets all locked?" I shouted again.

Suddenly, I noticed a door at the end of the room with a picture of a man on it.

"Is that a toilet?" I demanded, pointing at the door.

One of them nodded.

"Right, well, hope you don't mind if we use it then," I said and, without waiting for an answer, I dragged Mum behind me as I clambered over their legs, leaving them looking shocked and horrified in our wake. I pushed open the door and locked it quickly behind the two of us before anyone could stop us. Thankfully, there was a stall as well as a urinal. It was, however, utterly disgusting. Filthy dirty, no loo paper and a seat you wouldn't sit on for all the money in China. But beggars can't be choosers and it was definitely better than nothing. It was slightly more embarrassing on the way out without the desperation of an overflowing bladder, so we thanked them profusely and made a hasty exit.

Finally arriving at Haslemere, we slumped in my car with a huge sigh of relief. Nearly home. Just a quick 5 minute drive and then we could collapse into a nice warm bed. Hmmm, it would probably have been wise of me to have taken note of the petrol (gas) tank's bright red light shining at me when I had driven home from work the night before. It had been raining and I was sure there would be enough petrol in the tank for the short drive to the station. Wrong. Not half a mile after leaving the station, my car started coughing, then kangerooing and then finally it shuddered to a halt. Mum looked at me in horror.

"What's wrong with your car?" she exclaimed.

I cringed. How could I tell her I had run out of petrol? How crap was that. It was still raining, it was windy, it was dark, it was late, we were exhausted and we still had about a mile to get to my house. I gave her an embarrassed smile. I think that was the straw that broke the camel's back.

"Oh no! You haven't run out of fuel, have you?" she exploded. "How utterly, utterly stupid of you. How could you? Why would you let your tank get so low? I can't believe it. How are we going to get home now?"

"Um, I'm really sorry, but I think we're going to have to walk," I stuttered in a tiny voice, hardly wanting to suggest the unimaginable.

"Walk?" she shouted. "Walk? Oh for goodness sake, Claire, it's pouring with rain, I'm tired and my feet hurt. And what about my hair? It will get ruined! Arrrghhhh!"

With that, she flung open the car door and stomped off down the street, struggling to open her umbrella as she went. I don't think I have ever seen my Mum quite so mad. She was always so good as containing her feelings and making the best of everything. I was horrified. What a thoroughly crap day this had turned out to be.

I ran after her apologizing over and over again and, just as I caught up with her, a particularly strong gust of wind caught her umbrella and turned it inside out and broke it. I looked in horror. The rain and the wind attacked Mum's hair as she swore at me for the first time ever.

"My hair! Honestly Claire, this is too much. Fucking hell!"

Stunned, I stood rooted to the spot. I couldn't have been more surprised if she had turned into a frog and hopped away. My Mum just said "Fucking". Suddenly, it was too much, I started laughing. It was too funny. The whole day had completely gone to pot and now my Mum had said the F word. Once I started I couldn't stop. Mum stared at me and tried to carry on being cross, but then the appalling situation and me laughing got to her, and she started smiling, even though I could tell she didn't want to. Then she was laughing too and soon we were both in hysterics. The kind of laughing that made our bellies hurt and tears come out of our eyes. Crossing my legs I realised my pelvic floor muscles were giving way. I was really going to wet myself this time.

We finally staggered home around midnight, completely knackered, but arm in arm, giggling like demented drowned rats. It has gone down as the worst "treat" I have ever given my Mum and I don't think she will ever agree to come on another day out without checking my fuel gauge first. But in my mind, it shows what an amazing person my Mum is and how lucky I am to have her in my life.

21 comments:

  1. You crammed a bad month into one day! Do I dare ask if you intend to try again?

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    1. I have yet to try Wimbledon on my Mum but I have arranged other, really awful "special treats" for other members of my family. LOL

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    2. oh claire that was truly the most delightful read .Thankyou for sharing, what a scream .

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  2. Wow that was quite the day, and making her walk, no wonder she said fecking hahaha

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    1. Ha ha it was so shocking to hear her swear. Poor thing.

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  3. What a botched up day, your humorous account tho so very funny

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    1. Yes, a really rubbish day out. Thanks for commenting, Cynthia :)

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  4. I loved that story! It reminds me why, whenever there's a big do on - Wimbledon, bank holiday on a beach, the National Fireworks which are held locally - I head in the opposite direction! So glad you could both still laugh at the end of the day.

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    1. Ha ha you sound so much more sensible that me! Thanks for commenting.

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  5. Wow, what an incredible story. The saying, "when it rains, it pours" was taken quite literal in your case. I'd probably break down in hysterics, too, if I had encountered a day as misfortunate as that. I suppose it is better to release the built up tension by laughing it off rather than spontaneously combusting.

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    1. Yes, although if I thought I could have combusted I would have chosen that route when my bloody car chugged to a stop!

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  6. A miserable day but a great story.

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    1. It was a disaster as a "special treat" lol but actually it was hilarious by the end.

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  7. Talk about being bedeviled! But in the end you and your mom wound up laughing so in a way you won after all.

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    1. Thanks Barbara, at least we have a good laugh in my family. If we didn't laugh, we'd cry LOL

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  8. "Crumbs like edible dandruff" made me gag!!! LMAO I wonder how he did get into that lovely little outfit. hahahaha That's the worst when you're already tight and cranky from the days affairs, and someone goes and takes up all the rest of your room. lol

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    1. Yes it didn't improve my day! Thanks Jax.

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  9. Oh boy. Seriously, I don't know what more to say. That was a novel worthy day. =)

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  10. I've been tagged and now I'm tagging you. I think we may disagree about Wimbledon.

    Dave
    Dave Wrote This

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  11. Hey Claire, I've sat next to that guy you sat by at Wimbledon. Only that time,the was a plane. Great read!

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  12. I would literally KILL to go to Wimbeldon. It's a life dream, one I'm going to do one day if I'm ninety and I have to spend my last pennies to get there.

    Great post!

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