I walked towards the end of the queue, drenched in the English showers, and as if possessed. It was coming towards 8PM, and in a few minutes I would know exactly where I was in the queue. This would decide whether I would get a centre court ticket for tomorrow where the likes of Tim Henman, Maria Sharapova, and Rafael Nadal would play.
After battling the uphill climb on Wimbledon Park Road, I finally reached the end of the queue, where a group of Wimbledon stewards were bunched up. “Are you alone?” they asked. I nodded my head and one of them handed me a card.
“Guard this with your life!” he said. On it was the number 00176. Does this mean I get centre court? “Any court you want,” the steward replied with a smile. Only 250 centre court tickets were to the North and South queues and I was well within time.
I gave the steward a broad grin and started unpacking my 4 kilogram foldable chair. I sat there for a while to take a rest, all the time wrapped up in my green official Wimbledon poncho. There was a slight shower and I was tired and hungry.
A man came up to me with leaflets with menus from a pizzeria. I immediately called them up and ordered a medium Wimbledon special, stuffed crust, and with all the extras. It was only thirty minutes later when the delivery was made. Not bad, but when people tell you what cheap food cooked in England tastes like, believe them. I say cheap, but my pizza would have bought a grand buffet at a respectable hotel in Thaialnd.
At about 9PM, the stewards came and asked us to ‘expand’ the queue so that tents could get set up. An honorary steward allocated me a generous space on the sidewalk and grandly announced, “this space is yours”. It felt good. It felt official. I had been given property at Wimbledon's legendary overnight queue.
I set up my tent and went about my job of gobbling up the 12” pizza, stuffed crust and all. After going through half, I felt generous and crept out of my tent to offer some to my new neighbours. They were friendly, but refused the pizza, so I put it back in my tent, saving it for later.
(row of tents)
With what little space I had, I turned on my laptop and started going over my supervisor’s notes on my thesis. I was going through what must be my fifth draft of the thesis, and the submission date was drawing near. I needed to work every day, even when in a tent on the sidewalk of Wimbledon Park Road. It was a unique experience and I will always be able to tell people how I worked on a chapter while in a tent.
My clock warned me that it was close to midnight, so I decided to call it a day. I walked over to a surprisingly clean toilet set up especially for overnight queuers and tried to clean myself as well as possible. As I had dreaded, there was no shower. Fortunately, I had prepared a large pack of disposable alcohol wipes. That was going to have to do!
It continued to rain when I slipped into my surprisingly comfortable sleeping bag. The roar of the traffic was horrendous and a few times, cars actually honked their horns to intentionally wake us up. Little did they know that the sound of the buses and trucks were far worse.
It was the 27th of June, and I reminded myself that this was Gordon Brown’s day to move into Number 10 Downing Street. It was a shame I only had a radio to listen about this momentous occassion. I did hear how Roddick felt it was hilarious that the moving vans for the Blairs were actually televised on the BBC. I suppose it actually IS a sharp contrast to America’s presidents leaving in a helicopter.
Such was my train of thought. It was 2AM, and I was still unable to sleep. I slipped on my noise isolating earphones, turned on the soothing sounds of Dido on my iPod, and tried harder. Tomorrow was going to be a heck of a day.
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