Was That Really Just Two Days?

Well! What a weekend it’s been! As I’ve said before I have little or no interest in football but I couldn’t help but be caught up by the feverish anticipation before last night’s match. As I went to bed I found myself checking results but just before I switched my phone off it was still one-all. I was wondering what they do in those circumstances ie if no-one has scored after extra time and of course – duh! – it’s a penalty shoot-out. Which we lost. Hey ho. Still the mood seems to be one of sombre appreciation rather than angry disappointment, so that’s good. Also interesting to contrast the leadership styles of Gareth Southgates and Boris Johnson: ‘I take full responsibility’ vs ‘it’s all your fault.’

But before all that there were two tennis finals to watch. And what a final the men’s was! You had to favour Djokovic to win but I hadn’t expected Berrettini to play so brilliantly – his serves and forehands took the first set from a subdued Novak who also seemed rattled by the appreciation of the crowd for his opponent, but the Serb came back in the second set 6-4 and took the remaining two sets 6-4,6-3. But it was a battle and at times it looked like going to five sets; even the last few games were a tussle. It was a longish match, too; the first set took over an hour and the whole thing was nearly 3 1/2 hours. I had to phone the mattress guy who was expecting me by five. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said, ‘I’m watching it too.’ When I got there he was wearing a t-shirt that said ‘England: disappointing football fans since 1966.’ But I digress. It was a well-earned victory by Djokovic and a very impressive fight by the Italian.

So: the mattress. I had asked for this on Freecycle a while ago as our (very cheap) mattress has outstayed its welcome and taken to poking us in the back. But at the time he said he’d offered it to someone else, so I forgot about it. Then yesterday he emailed saying they hadn’t turned up (doncha just hate it when that happens?) so it could be mine. They live in Wymeswold, a lovely little village out to the East of Loughborough; I drove past Tudor houses and alongside a little stream which, too late, I discovered I had to cross by means of a tiny bridge, then up an alleyway to houses which look as if they were once stables. The people were very friendly and helped me put the mattress in the car. It now waits in our hall to be installed on the bed.

When I returned bearing mattresses the mixed doubles final was in full swing. This has suffered a diminution in status in recent years, which is a shame, and the crowd was obviously much depleted because of the imminent football, but I think mixed doubles is interesting because of the interplay of men’s and women’s styles. You had to admire the winning pair – there were two Brits on the losing side but also one on the winning team – especially the brilliant shot-making of Denise Krawczyk but also the power of the Brit Skupski. So that was all good.

On the Saturday I went over to Ashby to a local art exhibition in a church. My poem was displayed along with art and craft work done by local people; I was impressed by the quality of much of this. Then I went for tea with a friend who lives locally before coming back to watch the women’s final. This, too, was a great match and a well-deserved win by Ash Barty. Oh, and I went for a bike ride; that’s a total of 15 miles last week.

And I didn’t tell you about the ivy! This was perhaps my greatest achievement. Next door has an ornamental ivy plant (why people grow ivy deliberately I will never know; it is the most horrid stuff and basically defines ‘invasive’) which has grown over our shed roof. At first I amused myself by thinking that it looked like a large dog lying down but by last week the cute dog had mushroomed into a hound from hell: it was time to take action. I asked next door for the loan of some long-handled pruning shears and got to work. It was hard but there was a real sense of achievement in exposing the dirty work of this frankly odious parasite. The more you chop through ivy the more you realise how pernicious it is; it not only spreads everywhere but develops little hairy tentacles which burrow into walls and fences – and if you let it, it will grow thick hairy arms which will need to be sawn through or else chopped with an axe. I found one of these yesterday; it will be a delicate operation since I don’t want to chop through the fence as well.

And that was my weekend. How was yours?

Kirk out

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