Tennis is by far the English sport I enjoy watching the most. It celebrates much that is great about England: civilised spectatorship, Pimm's, the English summer (if and when it does make its appearance) and the individual efforts of great men and women. One is, as a rule, not drawn into pointless, entirely meaningless rivalries (as in football): Wimbledon audiences recognise the potency and beauty of each moment, and are willing to celebrate spectacular achievement and heroic effort, regardless of nationality. There is, on the part of the spectator, more of an attempt at objectivity. Of course, it is not free from the ugliness and defects of sports in general. One can still deplore the commercialisation of sport -- as the Olympics show, to a level truly sickening. (But that is another rant.) And they (tennis players), like many other sportspersons, certainly earn far too much. But in a fallen world, tennis isn't too bad at all, and I for one prefer watching it -- in the gym, you understand -- to watching that pointless display of savagery, racism and jingoistic chest-thumping (held in a country that has imprisoned its former prime minister) that we call Euro 2012.
But I might be viewing this through glasses irretrievably tinted. My first English summer, back in 2009, was suffused with memories of sun, Wimbledon, barbecues, Pimm's and finally, a wonderful holiday in rural France. It was part of a unitary experience, one so subjective that it is worthless to say much more. It should feel like part of another life, since I've now (kind of) left Oxford. But things aren't quite settled at the moment: results aren't out, graduation hasn't yet happened, and I am still in Oxford, haunting its streets, libraries and cafes.
I apologise -- I started off with tennis, and now I am ruminating, like those magnificent cows in Christ Church meadow, upon my particular existence. A sign to stop. My promised continuation of the food post to follow, soon.