Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Miracles happen

The bloke who sorted out my laptop said it would now be "more faster" which indeed it is. He also said all my data would still be there. It's not. Thank goodness for flash drives.

So Andy Murray became the first British man to win Wimbledon for 77 years. I was wide awake at 2:30 so I got up and watched the rest of the match (and drank a gallon of coffee when I got to work). There were so many twists and turns, it didn't feel like only a three-setter. (There were eleven breaks of serve, Murray claiming seven of them.) That final game was high drama; if Djokovic had broken for 5-5 anything could have happened. I'm glad Murray won but not because he's British. He's not really playing for Great Britain, or for Scotland, anyway. He's playing for Andy Murray. If nationalities were that big a deal they wouldn't allow mixed-nationality doubles partnerships.

Murray's Wimbledon win is his second grand slam title from seven final appearances. I'm fairly confident he'll follow in his coach Lendl's footsteps in winning several more slams. Frankly I couldn't give a stuff that a Brit won but if more Brits play tennis as a result, that would be a big win. In the UK (when I lived there at least, and I doubt it's changed) courts were empty apart from the Wimbledon fortnight and possibly the week after. It was as if tennis didn't exist for 49 weeks of the year. I clearly remember a conversation (well, argument) I had with a woman at my local club; she said that tennis courts should only be built in wealthy areas because nobody from poorer areas could afford the expenses needed to become the next Wimbledon champion. As if that's what matters. As if people getting off their arses and playing a game that doesn't involve pixels isn't important.

While Murray's win was nice it didn't come as a shock, unlike Bartoli's victory which continues to blow me away. Six years ago she surprised everybody by reaching the final where she lost to Venus Williams. Surely that was as good as it would ever get. But getting to the final again and winning? Miracles happen, don't they? OK, Kvitova's win two years ago was a bit of a surprise, as was Sharapova's in 2004, but Bartoli isn't Bartova or even Bartovic - she was cast in a different mould altogether.

TV coverage of Wimbledon, what little I saw, could have been better. You'd see an incredible winner and where was the slow-motion replay? No, you'd see David Cameron instead. John McEnroe does an exceptional job in the commentary box though, it must be said.

On Sunday I played board games with Tracy and Tom. Sitting on Tracy's shelves are a dazzling array of weird and wacky games - there's no Scrabble, Monopoly or Risk (or anything anyone has heard of) to be seen. We played three games in all. First up was 7 Wonders. You had to build up your wonder of the world (say the Pyramids or the Hanging Gardens) using resources which you can buy and sell, or sort of, and it was the "sort of" that always confused me. I must have driven Tracy mad as I kept asking how much stone or glass I had, and how much it would cost to get more. In each of three "ages" a war took place, and it was by winning the final war that I won the game, without really knowing what I was doing, and with one of the lowest winning scores on record.

Then we played Takenoko, a Japanese-style game where you had to cultivate, irrigate and fertilise land so you could grow bamboo for a panda to eat. A really bizarre game if you ask me. And I did pretty badly - I came last by some distance. I kept having to buy irrigation sticks to water my land and hardly ever grew anything. I wanted to kill the damn panda but annoyingly that wasn't in the rules (which were quite complicated). Both these first two games were designed by the same person - you never would have guessed that as they were so different.

Finally we played Small World. By this stage I was longing for Community Chests or triple word scores, something I could get a handle on. Small World involves territories and armies, similar to Risk but more complicated. The armies were different races or beings, such as orcs or giants or tritons. Each race would have a special power or trait, like "flying" or "diplomatic". The races and powers would pair up at random and Tracy would get excited if a particular combination came up: "Alchemistic dragons, man. That's awesome!" Armies would kill each other until they were depleted when they would "go into decline". For me this was the most enjoyable game of the three, and I won with plenty of luck and advice from Tracy.

The illustrations in all three games were impressive; I liked the attention to detail in the way each race was depicted in Small World. Unlike the board games of old, these modern creations have been tested to the nth degree. But they struck me as being quite a niche market. There used to be a shop selling these kinds of games in the Old Bank Arcade. The games sold for around $100 and I was always amazed by how heavy they were. That shop closed down last year - they were selling obscure games in a fairly obscure location so I suppose you could see why. But it's still a shame. Also gone is the shop that sold coins, notes, stamps and war medals. In its place is yet another shop selling expensive household crap - mostly presents for people who already have everything. For $35 you can buy a side plate with either "bitch", "slapper", "wanker" or "tosser" written on it. Nice. The shop that used to sell candy and lollies has also shut down - it's currently empty.

I don't think I can make myself go to the Great Gatsby work function. Apart from some food, what is there to gain? Annoyingly it's only a five-minute walk from my flat, but I don't think anyone will care if I'm not there. The only person who might have cared was given the sack.

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