The quintessential sound of the English summer echoes around me as I write this: the thud of the tennis ball against racket and sun-hardened grass and the whoops and claps for the great, maybe the greatest, Roger Federer as he takes on Novak Djokovic in the Men’s Final at Wimbledon. Now aged 32, how often will we see the Greatest Of All Time dominate this stage, we all think, watching with the customary awe and wonder evinced by experiencing the beauty and grace of Roger’s finest.
The great champion’s hair curls in tendrils over his headband. I will be thrilled once mine is long enough to do that, although I can’t expect such lustre as the shine of the Champion’s locks.
Told the Iceman about my cancer last night.
We’re snogging, he tugs at my wig and it comes off in his hand. Embarrassed I blurt out. “I’ve got breast cancer,” and pull away from him.
“Yeah, I worked that one out,” he says.
“How?” I say, surprised.
“It’s obvious,” he says, moving away from me, the moment gone. “The scars, the wig. It’s ok.”
“Aren’t you freaked out by it?” I say, taking a gulp of my gin and slimline tonic.
“No,” he says. “Why would I be freaked out that you’ve been ill?” He gazes at me with an intense ice blue stare. He goes like this suddenly sometimes, I’ve noticed: serious.
“I don’t know,” I say. “I guess it’s not very sexy?”
“I wouldn’t think that,” he says. “You’re sexy anyway.”
“Thank you,” I say.
“You look fine without the wig,” he says, as I put it back on.
“I don’t feel like me without lots of long hair,” I say. “It’s like, I don’t know, wearing make-up, or sunglasses. I like to hide behind it. I feel almost naked without my long hair.”
“What I would say is I reckon you’re quite vulnerable,” he says. “You’ve been really ill, when was it?” That Ice blue gaze again.
“All year,” I say, taking a sip of my gin and slimline tonic.
“Wow, that recently,” He says. “So what treatment did you have?”
“Nine cycles of chemo, then I was going to lose a lot of skin, it had cancer in it, so I had to grow a hump on my back…”
“Why on your back?” He asks.
I think. I haven’t really wondered why Engelbert was on my back before.
“Um, I think because it needed to be turned round in the operation. I’m not sure.”
“Wow,” he says.
“Then the operation and then five weeks of radiotherapy and then recovering from the radiotherapy. And that finished in April and then I started dating at the end of May.”
“So you’ve been ill very recently,” he says, his gaze soft.
“Do you want another drink?” I say, noticing that his glass is almost empty.
“You know you mentioned food?” He says, smiling.
“Yeah, I’m sure I can rustle something up,” I say, as we make our way to the kitchen.