Champagne corks fly at Wimbledon as Hurricane Boris looms

Columnist  | Kishwar Desai

Opinion, Oped

Aaaaaand finally we saw Archie — or shall we say, more politely, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

British Prime Minister Theresa May (Photo: AP)

However much you may fault British politicians, one thing they are prompt about is leaving their official residences, and also handing over responsibilities as fast as possible. Already we can see that the outgoing Prime Minister, Theresa May, is far more relaxed than she had ever been in the last few years, as the countdown to July 24 has begun.

Even as she still faces flack almost on a daily basis, she was cheerful and withering in her own criticism of the leaders of the opposing parties, Jeremy Corbyn and Vince Cable, at her Prime Ministers’ Questions last Wednesday, though the chamber was not well attended. And on the weekend she was out enjoying the Henley Royal Regatta — sailing down the Thames with her husband, Philip. And yes she was out of those severe blazers and business suits, wearing a comfortable long dress, and even a large white hat with orange flowers… This was the cool demeanor of a woman happy to move on. No more tears! Whoever pulls off Brexit will need the skills of Houdini and the brains of Einstein — and there doesn’t seem to be anyone like that on the horizon as yet. Perhaps we may yet remember Ms May with far more nostalgia than we now imagine.

Aaaaaand finally we saw Archie — or shall we say, more politely, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. It was a fraught few days as the christening of the child had been kept strictly under wraps. Till now his parents have been very protective and not a single photograph has leaked out. But the press has been grumbling that there was far too much secrecy around the christening of the little child — and that the people of England needed to get to see him. They had as yet not even seen his face! Outrage poured out as people calculated that Archie’s parents, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, have spent a small fortune of £2.5 million refurbishing their cottage — where he will spend his early years.

However, some calm prevailed post the christening when the mandatory family photograph was published and released to the public. Finally, everyone could see Archie and remark on the resemblance he bore to his father — especially the upturned nose.

However, the names of the god parents were kept a mystery — though the christening ceremony was attended by a small group of people, which included Harry’s nanny when he was a little boy.

But for many the weekend was more about Wimbledon and cricket than Baby Archie, and to everyone’s delight India carried on with a winning streak, striking out against Sri Lanka. Thus, the last few weeks have been spent watching World Cup cricket. (Tickets have been sold out long ago.) There are four neighbouring countries from the subcontinent and loyalties are tested. When two of “our” sides play each other — Bangladesh versus Sri Lanka or Afghanistan versus Pakistan — the spectators are all from the subcontinent, either visiting or resident. India luckily is doing fine though the match with Afghanistan was a bit of a heart stopper. But Sri Lanka proved easy. Rohit Sharma has stolen the show as in match after match he has scored centuries. Now India is in the last four for the semifinals — the only team from the subcontinent. Afghanistan did not win any match — but considering the fragile country they represent, everyone admired their courage. What is the greatest distraction players face at Wimbledon? Would you believe champagne corks! In a recent match, the umpire had to allow a point to be played again as in the middle of the court landed a champagne cork! You cannot prohibit champagne bottles popping. Not during Wimbledon matches. No more than you can ban strawberries and cream. People define Wimbledon not as tennis but as strawberries and champagne, and celebrity spotting.

What about the Boris Johnson hurricane that is soon to make landfall in the UK? Many are already trembling at the thought, but the reality is that he already seems heading for victory. It seems as though nothing can stop him — or so say the bookies.

Of course, there is still a chance that something shocking will turn up, but then with Boris Johnson people expect to be startled. Besides, we have already been through every kind of allegation with him over the years and this includes adultery, illegitimate children, drugs and so on. A lesser individual might have had his prime ministerial ambitions snatched from him by now, but Boris retains his prime position. Despite fitting into the classic definition of a “bounder”, Boris manages to make people repose their faith in him. Many now recollect that he actually did a good job as the London mayor, and maybe beneath the “Boris Bluster” lurks a serious-minded man. Certainly a very ambitious one!