Without a doubt the finest invitation to have come my way in recent times was this week's to view Wimbledon tennis from the royal box. As just about everyone who has had this chance seems to say, it will be lifetime-memorable. Sitting as it seemed just above the players' shoulders, we became instantly absorbed in hours and hours of tennis, point by point. It was great to see Federer win (his own defeat in the quarter-finals two days later has been predicted by some as his 'last ever' Wimbledon game.) But my abiding memory will be of Djokovic's careful, unfussy concentration over every single stroke, in the following match.
I of course immediately started to make musical comparisons with these great 'soloists' having, every day, to perform this demanding series of actions over many gruelling hours, and then expected to be fun and friendly immediately afterwards, even if they lost. In fact my professional music takeaway from the day was the fervent enthusiasm of every single steward and Wimbledon official we encountered (quite a few of them, over a ten hour visit.) When someone from the outside world visits a classical concert, do we express our musical passions so clearly? To the extent that they will remember it for a long time and tell everyone about it, as I have been doing since my visit to London SW19 ?
Another musical point struck me later. Wimbledon has no music, except for the beautiful sound of the ball being hit (I'll leave out the loudmouthed vocalists who felt compelled to shout "Come on Roger!" after every point, far too audibly in the superb centre court acoustics.) I dared not mention this while talking to AELTC people, in case I put the wrong notion into some modernising head. By comparison, I was passing our local sports ground, the Oval, last week and heard what seemed to be a pop concert going on - a bit much during the daylight hours I thought. Later I learned that this event had in fact been the One-Day England v Sri Lanka international, with musical interludes between overs.