an idiot in london

June 2001

Saturday, 30th June 2001.
The Queue

We joined the queue at 7:30am. It was a miracle of sorts that I'd even made it there at that time.

The queue was huge. There were thousands of people ahead of us. It snaked back from the gates, along the road, and curled around the end of the park, doubling back on itself a few times. And this was a large park!

I'd met up with Dave at the station, and later on Megan and Alex (two more Australians) joined up with us. We were a chatty little bunch, especially with two self-starters in the conversation department like me and Megan.

As we settled in for the long haul, we got talking with an Australian couple in front of us. Bloody Australians are everywhere. And honestly, there were thousands of us in the queue. Some had facepaint on, some draped in Australian flags, but I don't think I saw a single terry-toweling hat!

We spread out on the grass and waited for the queue to move. We somehow got into a conversation about how all words should have two syllables. (I suspect that I started it...) For the next fifteen minutes we communicated using words of two syllables or less, and when we came across words of three syllables or more, we truncated them to two. And single-syllabled words became two: eg Shane becomes Shano, Warne becomes Warnie. "Bowled Warnie!" someone piped up. "Bowled? Bow-led more like it!" Charades would become a bit boring..."I know, I know, TWO syllables... err, two-o sybbles."

After a few hours the need to relieve myself became too great to resist. So I ducked into the bushes at the side of the park near the railway line. Look out for the stinging nettles! Crikey, that was close. Once proceedings had started, I heard a train approaching. I briefly consided trying to conceal myself, but then figured that from that kind of distance (about three metres) nobody would see anything anyway!

"Give the folks on the train a good show?" Dave asked as I returned to the queue.
"Nothing to see here!" I proclaimed.
"I'd believe that," said Megan.

Having had the piss taken out of me figuratively and literally, our attention turned to the radio cradled in Graeme's arm. (By this stage we had made all the introductions. Spending so long in the queue with someone, you really should find out their name!) Apparently Australia plays Rugby Union. (Never heard of the game myself. I'm told that people from New South Wales and Queensland play it. And I'm told that we're world champions or something, so well done NSW and Queensland!) More to the point, Australia was playing the Lions, a mongrel mix of english, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish and Irish players. And they were giving the Australian team a pasting. The English were loving that.

The queue was moving by now, and we shuffled slowly around the park, passing great piles of rubbish where the masses had been queuing.

DID YOU KNOW...that in North America they don't use the word queue?

Moving right along, as we were, we started to get a bit excited. It was midday, and the queue was moving, and we were going to get in! Woo-hoo! We were on the road near the overpass. We are close I tell you, close! Megan was getting excited, as were the other members of our party. Dave and I were concentrating on the serious business of perving on women.

"OK, I've got a blonde wearing a blue top. Standing on the corner over there."
"On the corner, see that red car? Well she's behind that, so you can't see her right now. Right it's gone now, can you see her? She's the one with the boyfriend."
"Aw I didn't need to know that!"
"Just put it out of your mind. It's not like we'd have a chance anyway."
"OK, I see her now. Hmm, nice."
Then Graeme pipes up: "Who are you looking at?"
"Blonde, blue top."
"Uh, right. Where?"
"See the 'tea and coffee' sign over there? Well...she was right near that. Where's she gone? No no, don't worry, she's still there, just obscured by her boyfriend."
"Could be her brother."
"They're holding hands!"
"Well, maybe her cousin then."
"If you make a Tasmanian joke there will be trouble."
"Well I was just trying to take our minds off the fact that she has a boyfriend."
"I wouldn't touch a woman who holds hands with her brother in public."
"In private?"
"That's a different matter."
"You lot are idiots!" said Michelle, Graeme's girlfriend. And she was right.

We endured a brief shower, and soon we were over the overpass, and a mere twenty metres from the gate. 1pm, and we were nearly in! Megan was delirious!

Then they shut the gate.

Apparently the grounds were at capacity, and they weren't letting anyone else in until people left. Bugger.

We briefly considered packing it all in, but we'd invested a fair bit of time in getting this far, so we figured we'd hang around for a while longer and see what happened.

We inched closer over the next three hours.

"C'mon Pat!" I said sometime during the afternoon.

"C'mon Pat!" came the response. Pretty soon we were all yelling out "C'mon Pat!"
"We should be doing it in high-pitched voices!" I said. "C'mon Pat!" we all chorused in our most girly voices.

We were herded through the gate at Wimbledon at 4pm, and we all made our way up to the hill to watch the end of Lleyton Hewitt's match. Then blah blah blah we did stuff that wasn't very interesting for you guys to read about, then we met back on the hill in front of the big screen to watch "C'mon Pat" play a Moroccan bloke. (Sorry I can't remember his name.)

"What do blokes say?"
"Well blokes don't say 'c'mon Pat'..."
"No, they say 'Come on Patrick'!"
"Ah, he cops the full name from the lads."
"Like when your mum uses your middle name you know you're in trouble!"
"C'mon Pat!"
"Are you guys Australian?" came an Australian voice from beside us. No smartarse remarks were made.
"We're living in Stevenage, we don't meet any other Australians, and seeing you guys is just confirmation that we're normal!"
I gave him a puzzled look. "Normal? You're joking aren't ya?"

Our friends next to us were from Adelaide, but otherwise nice people.
"They roll up the pavements at 8pm in Adelaide don't they?"
"Ignore him, he's from Tasmania!"

The "c'mon Pat" chorus broke out again.
"Y'know," I said, " there's always someone right at the end who'll yell out 'we love you Pat' just before he serves." Promptly a chorus of "We love you Pat" went up.

We were unstoppable once the match started. c'mon pat There were a couple of hundred Australians assembled on the hill. c'mon pat And many Australians were actually courtside, decked out in their Australian flags and green wigs. we love you pat

A woman stood up and took a photo of the big screen. "Now why would you take a photo of the big screen at Wimbledon?" asked Graeme.
"Well, I did earlier..." I mumbled.
"I mean, you wouldn't do that at home," Graeme continued, ignoring my confession.
"What do you mean?"
"You're not likely to take a photo of your favourite tv show, are you? Quick quick, pass the camera, Friends is on...I love this show! Ooh ooh, take a photo of me watching Friends."

Rafter, sorry, Our Pat hit a lovely winner. "Niiiice!" said I.
"Niiiiiiiice!" said the bloke from Adelaide.

Added to the hordes of Australians were a smattering of South Africans. Then it occurred to us that there were no (visible) New Zealanders there! "Name a New Zealand tennis player!" I said. We couldn't. Are we ignorant? C'mon Pat.

"C'mon Pat!"
"C'mon Pat!"
"C'mon Pat!"
"C'mon Pat!"
"C'mon Pat!"
"C'mon Pat!"
"We love you Pat!"
"Rafter, give us a wave!" Huge call from the bloke from Adelaide/Stevenage, which sent us all into hysterics.

C'mon Pat wrapped up the match in three sets, which pleased the assembled Australians. We took photos of us watching the big screen, I had a scrounge in one of the rubbish bins, and then we headed off back to the tube station.