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Monday 12th July 2004

CNPS numbers spotted 0 (899) - the CNPS gods are not sentimental and did not feel like giving me a 900 for my birthday. They did feel like giving me four 901s, two 902s, three 903s, a 904, two 905s, one 906, two 907s and a 908 though. Which in a way is better. Though in most ways is just horribly annoying. Please, oh munificent gods, end my drought tomorrow.

I had another tennis lesson today. This time I was on an outside court. Rather bizarrely the Westway Sports centre is situated under a major road system (the Westway as it happens). It was strange to be playing tennis with such a stark urban background. Plus with all the fumes from the cars it probably made it the most unhealthy two hours of tennis I have ever played. I'm guessing its taken two years off my life.
A photographer and journalist from the tennis magazine that have sorted out my lessons were there today. This slightly distracted from the lesson and although I had made a marked improvement from yesterday, the constant stop and starting for photos meant I didn't get a chance to build on that. After John had taught me to do things right I had to rather confusingly demonstrate how I had been doing things wrong so they could get photos of this. It was actually quite hard to go back to the way I had been playing yesterday and I worried that if I started playing like that again I would forget the correct way.
But it was encouraging to be getting my serves in and hitting hard and reasonably controlled shots across the court. I think I've got a good chance of winning on Saturday. Provided my nephew hasn't been getting lessons on the sly from Tim Henman (you can make a joke here, if you wish, that I should be OK in this case, as Henman never wins anything. But I won't laugh at your stupid observation. I think rather than complaining that he has never won Wimbledon we should be applauding him for regularly getting into the final stages of most competitions. In a planet of so many billion people -admittedly some of whom don't play tennis- I think we should be proud that our tiny country has produced a player who is in the top 8 players in the world. But oh no, for some reason, because we are English, we feel that it is our right to win everything and we have failed if we don't. Grow up. Yeah, how funny was your joke now? - Having said that I am sure someone will find an example of me making a similar joke in the past. I am nothing if not a pompous hypocrite).
At one point some kids passed the court and one of them opened the gate and came in. He was only about ten, but he looked quite hard. "What do you want?" asked John, not unreasonably. The boy went back out again, but was still skulking around.
He started shouting something at us, and finally made it clear that he wanted us to give him a tennis ball. "We're using them all," said John, again not unreasonably. They were his balls and he couldn't just go giving them out to any child who wanted them.
The kids kept skulking and looking bored and miserable at the thought of the long summer holiday stretching ahead of them with nothing to do and no ball to kick around. John is a nice guy and he saw them and relented and threw them one of his balls.
The 10 year old kid jumped for joy. It was a beautiful moment where the priveleged world of tennis and the unpriveleged world of the estate at the Westway met. Then immediately the boy started shouting again, "Can I have another one for my brother?"
He had pushed it too far. He was just after what he could get. We all knew that if he got another ball then he'd want another for his cousin and then one for his grandad and so on until all the tennis balls of the world were in his possession.
One ball is all that he got.

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