This Sporting Life. February 2018.

Dear Rowley,

I have always loathed sport. If someone chooses to hurl a harpoon or a shot put further than anyone else in the world, I find it is nobody’s business but their own. I simply don’t care who can jump higher or run faster or hit a ball faster. Strike that, tennis is my one true love sport though I no longer play.

My youth was spent cheering Chris Evert on at Wimbledon. I love Chrissie. She was the ice maiden of the turf who would have taken the highest number of Grand Slams in history if it wasn’t for a certain Czech called Martina Navratilova. The Martina/Chris rivalry was the highlight of women’s tennis in the seventies and eighties. Chrissie retired first and Martina still competed at championship level until well into the Noughties so snaps to both.

My favourite Chrissie match was when she was in the semis at Wimbledon and was one set all 0-5 down in the third. I can’t remember her opponent but I would like to say Jana Novotna; that lovely lady who died last year far too young. The word for round in the ┬álocker rooms that Chrissie was in trouble so all the top seeds gathered behind the Rolex board to cheer her on. She won the next eight games in one. The victory was of the mind not the returns that Chris was the best at bar none.

We all need cheerleaders in our lives. I love mine. Even when I am really in trouble they are there for me cheering me home and back to sanity. Name check Inga, Mrs T, Mum and Dad, Lee, Bernice, Pete and Jennie. I salute you all. Others have approached with caution but not given me the help I needed in the past few weeks.

But back to this sporting life. Tennis is my game because it can be played as singles. I am not a team player. If the buck stops here I would rather be alone. I am not so interested in the professional game now the rackets are not wooden and the finesse has been lost to the grunt, sweat and thwack of the Williams sisters. We need another Chris and Martina rivalry not two sisters.

Well, the day is bright and despite a cold snap coming I feel very cosy again in Bloomsbury Towers despite four burglaries in as many weeks and the loss of all my family jewellery. I was adamant I would move to Menorca permanently. I have now changed my mind. I will spend the month of May writing on Menorca but come home to my London flat afterwards.

Have you been watching the Winter Olympics? I saw the figure skater in the ice dance whose boob popped out and that was my gold medal of the games. I also love the luge ever after a Svetlana from somewhere flipped on her back by mistake and hurtled down the chute legs akimbo. She crashed into the foam pillows wide apart two first. As Miss Perry said, ‘she finished last but she did lose her virginity’.

Speaking of Miss P, we are bosom buddies after all our BBC Royal Ascots and she knows more about motor sport than I do about the British Royal Family and that is saying something. I love Miss P. She has my sense of Northern humour. The Winter Olympics are marginally better than summer because of the jeopardy. You can drop a shot put on your toe or fall off the parallel bars in summer but in winter you can slice your head off on an upturned ski in mid-air. What’s not to like?

I wish footballers had more jeopardy. I wish fervently football would be more like The Hunger Games. Why the fuck are these big kids kicking a ball and blubbering when a big bad man takes them down getting paid so much? They earn in a week what I earn in a year and I consider myself much more multi-talented even though I pitch and catch like a big old girl.

I was crap at sport at School and was the only boy who walked off the Rugby pitch cleaner than when I walked on. Cross country running was my thing because you could hide in the gorse and smoke. I loathed – absolutely loathed! – the Birkdale School playing fields up on a moor with a concrete hut with a big concrete bath that smelt of carbolic and smegma.

Football was a nightmare for me unless in goal (smoking again) or playing cricket with one of those sweaty plastic cock covers down your whites. I recall one cross country run when a fat dead Geography teacher dragged me the last few yards and I lost a shoe. He said I was a big girl’s blouse. Can I get an Amen in here? If that was now he would be fired for a hate crime. Plus ├ža change.

My sporting activities today only stretch to swimming and walking and that suits me just fine. I am fitter than all those gym bunnies who smell of Kuoros and protein shake farts. On that note…