Virginia Barton

7 July 2017: SW19

7 July 2017: SW19


7 July 2017


The title of this Commonplace has been referred to as “the most famous postcode in the world.” Hands up those who know where it is and to what it refers?

Humph. As I thought, not that many. Certainly not enough for worldwide fame. And if you put it in your Sat Nav it won’t get you anywhere except in a general sort of way. You must add “5AE” in order to arrive at — Wimbledon, actually.

Now there’s a word that really is famous. Wimbledon. You can just hear the wallop of ball on racket and the roar from Henman Hill, or should it be “Murray Mound”?




No mean whacker of tennis balls in his day, BH likes to follow the game on television. He approves of the way that whites are obligatory and that it’s played on grass, and that bad behaviour is still boo’d.

Neither of us have been to a “live” match since the seventies – can that really be true? My last Wimbledon (this will date it) was when Charlie Pasarell played an interminable set against I’ve forgotten whom. Was it 24-22 in the third set? I believe it was after that match that they brought in the tie-break. *

If you are on Centre court and have the most expensive tickets you may qualify for cold salmon, strawberries and cream, and champagne, all of which are de rigeur at Wimbledon; dress code is smart casual. An All England Club tie is an enviable accessory for men, and perhaps a discreet crossed-rackets silver brooch picked out in purple and green for ladies. Comfortable shoes and no hats except sunhats – heaven forbid one should block the view of a stunning backhand. It’s also bad form to talk through matches: knowledgable silence followed by tremendous cheering at appropriate moments, especially for any British player who happens to win a game. It’s rather like going to a matinee at the opera.


Looking up the list of Men’s Singles winners (the first was in 1877) is very gratifying because they were all British in those early years, hurray. Same with the women, beginning in 1884. One has seen clips of players in their antique clothes and big hairdos – everything conspiring to make you feel hot. Beards, bustles, high necklines and full sleeves.

My Dad and his friends always wore long white flannels and that was in the late Fifties. At school we girls were bus’d to Queens Club twice a week in the summer term and wore white shorts that looked like skirts, pleated affairs down to the knee.

When I look at the women players now I’m filled with admiration for their skill and deep envy for their outfits. The only thing in common was the colour white.

Oh well, at least BH would approve.



* Memo to Virginia:
On 26 June 1969, Charlie Pasarell played Pancho Gonzales in what was, until 2010, the longest match in Wimbledon history in terms of the number of games played. The 41-year-old Gonzales finally defeated the 25-year-old Pasarell 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9 after a battle that lasted 5 hours and 12 minutes.





  • Ginny says on: July 7, 2017 at 1:34 am


    Thanks for that Note. Imagine sitting as I did, through all of that! Too polite to leave. Was it after that match that the tie-break was introduced? VB

    • webmaster says on: July 7, 2017 at 1:09 pm


      You are correct, Ginny. According to a tennis history:

      “A 1969 Wimbledon Championship match between Pancho Gonzales and Charlie Pasarell had required a total of 112 games to complete, the highest number of games ever played in a singles match. The following year, the tiebreaker was made official at the U.S. Open and proved to make scheduling of matches as well as television program scheduling much easier. By 1973, the tiebreaker had been adopted at Wimbledon as well as the Australian and French opens.”

      The 1970 introduction of the tiebreaker is the only scoring change made since the game was founded.

  • Jack L says on: July 7, 2017 at 3:34 am


    Glad to see that bad behavior is still booed at Wimbledon after that awful incident the other day when that boorish oaf snatched the towel out of the young man’s hand.

    Ginny, whom does BH favor to win this year?

    • Ginny says on: July 7, 2017 at 7:12 pm


      BH thinks Nadal will win, Jack — but he’s not putting any money on it as there are so many top players this year within a whisker of it! Gin

  • Nadine says on: July 7, 2017 at 5:23 am


    I’m guessing the postcode must be that of the White House, but this makes it look like it’s Wimbledon??

    • Ginny says on: July 7, 2017 at 7:12 pm


      Nadine you’re spot on, Wimbledon it is. I’m sure some kind person will send the zip code for the White House, just in case… Ginny

      • Jack L says on: July 7, 2017 at 7:13 pm


        That would be: 20500

  • Mary says on: July 7, 2017 at 5:54 am


    Just dialling in from North Carolina where I was working in 94 degrees for 12 hours today (with incredible humidity).

    Thinking about the year of the famous heatwave in the UK — 1976 — and remembered that Bjorn Borg beat Ilie Nastase that year at Wimbledon.

    Gosh, now there were a couple of charismatic champions.

  • Ginny says on: July 7, 2017 at 7:13 pm


    Oh dear Mary, it DOES sound uncomfortable where you are! But as my Dad said to a plasterer complaining of having to work weekends:
    “I daresay it’s worth your while.”

    Borg and Nastase eh? A couple of true greats! Remember how Borg never shaved till the very end, when he’d won the championship?

    Tally ho, Virginia

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