While Andy Murray (pictured) restored his tennis career at Queen’s, I got inspired at Ilkley’s grass-court tournament – a sort of poor man’s equivalent.
We were staying in a riverside pub, minutes’ walk from the picturesque grounds and, as with Andy, all was going well – easy drive, nice double room and, by Yorkshire standards, fine weather.
We had front-row seats to marvel at the pros just feet away, while on-site food and drink was good and affordable. What could go wrong?
Usually, She Who Knows can laugh over some embarrassing mishap which overtakes me on such breaks. At least she’d given up persuading me to a Michelin two-star restaurant in the town centre. We got as far as its front door last time, when meal prices stopped me in my tracks. Instead I dragged her across the road to a less expensive but, by that time, aptly named Moody Cow steakhouse.
Trouble is, mechanical things sometimes defeat She Who and, in the small hours, she rattled the door handle of our en-suite loo annoyingly. Then still later, when I had to go, I found the bathroom door now firmly locked - from the inside – while She Who Knows slept cosily back in bed.
Giving up, I crept downstairs in pyjamas only to find the bar toilets also locked. What to do? So it was, at 5am, dawn found me standing in the front garden of our hotel, self-consciously finding relief while warily watching for early-morning dog walkers - then grimly realising I was being filmed on CCTV cameras.
At least I’d provide hotel staff with a laugh at their Christmas party.
Still, any further fears over ‘spending a penny’ were relieved later that day, simply by inserting a coin in a slot of the twisted door handle, then freeing its lock.
Easy when you know how ... unlike tennis.
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