I am well known as a tennis pundit – well, I am to those lucky listeners to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire one afternoon 3 or 4 years ago who heard me correctly predict the results of both Wimbledon Singles Finals. Sadly, I didn’t have sufficient confidence in my punditry to back it financially, so I’m still “working” for “the man”. It is in my role as a tennis expert that I have noticed, with the exception of the recent ATP Masters, Roger Federer seems to have become somewhat estranged from his winning ways of late. Younger, more poorly dressed whipper-snappers have kept him from winning tournaments – or even reaching the finals.
Given the fairly generous prize money paid out for winning major tennis tournaments, and his extraordinarily successful career, I had assumed that Mr F would not be short of a bob or two. Certainly, I am always mystified by those who go on to earn their second (or, indeed, nth million for any n>1) – as I’d be quite happy to stop and take life easy after (or, if I’m being honest, probably well before) making my first million (be it in GBP, USD or EUR). However, recent events suggest that Roger may be on his uppers.
Over the weekend, I happened to see some sort of advertisement broadcast by one of our many commercial television providers (I never hear these presentations, well not while I am within easy reach of the Mute button). This starred the Swiss tennis ace, who seemed to be leaving on a jet plane to destination unknown. The little vignette focused on the scanning of his hand luggage prior to moving on to the departure gate. His hand luggage was a rather large sports bag (rather larger than I would try and sneak through as hand luggage) and the X-ray scan results showed it to be puzzlingly packed with small spheres. On visual inspection, his only item of hand luggage was discovered to be packed with small spherical chocolates from one of Switzerland’s larger commercial chocolatiers.
Now, I will admit that my hand luggage is usually partly filled with food – in case I become peckish mid-flight – but I would normally have a greater variety of healthier options and would also have at least a book and MP3 player to keep myself amused during my confinement. Perhaps, Mr F was expecting a very serious case of the munchies? Though frankly, I think he has gone beyond the munchies and moved into the territory of serious addiction – and were he to consume the lot, he would not be moving around the court with his customary grace in future. No, I am forced to assume that he has taken to chocolate smuggling to make ends meet. Indeed, he used some of his contraband to “bribe” the two female customs officials to allow him to proceed.
Have other tennis stars of yesteryear also been forced to turn to a life of crime? Certainly, no others have been foolish enough to be filmed “in the act” to my knowledge. Will Andy Murray be caught smuggling haggis to the USA (where it is banned) in the future? Aren’t we failing as a society if our über-rich tennis players are reduced to the role of food mules to keep the wolf from the door? Some sort of appeal or bail-out is surely in order? We found the money to keep our bankers in champagne and Porsches (not at the same time, this blog does not encourage drink-driving), surely we can do the same for tennis players? After all, they’ve provided a lot more entertainment and pleasure.
Talking of financial rescues, I wondered if the French, Belgian (subject to its availability) or UK governments would help Stena Line if it found itself in trouble. The idea of bailing out the ferries is rather pleasing.