‘What do you notice about this game at Wimbledon that’s different?’ Kai asked.
‘The English guy’s winning!’ I volleyed back with a hint of facetious spin on it.
‘Take a closer look,’ he urged me with a straight raquet. ‘Tell me what’s unusual, pal. Open your eyes. Smell the coffee.’
I could see he was serious so complied with his request. There didn’t appear to be anything out of the ordinary. The white clad players were engaged in battle on centre-court. The grass was its usual vibrant green except for the bare patches where the most activity occurred and Hawk-Eye was tracking balls with its trusted precision. The line judges were occupying their positions and as would be expected on such a hot day the crowd comprised of a plethora of summer hats and short sleeved garments.
‘All I can say is that it’s sunny,’ I pathetically offered. The glare I received coaxed me into trying again. It was then, on my return that I scored, for at thirty-love up on his serve, I seen something as Miles Streppings prepared to make it forty-love. ‘The players seem to have waited ages to receive the balls between points,’ I observed. ‘The ball boys and girls are taking longer to…in fact, there’s only one ball boy and girl. There’s usually far more than that, there’s always a whole bloody team of them!’
‘Game, set and match to you, matey.’
‘Right, yes, but where are they then, the rest of them, and why aren’t they there?’
‘Isaac Newton,’ Diamonde replied.
‘The History Maintenance Commission have alerted the All England Club at Wimbledon that the law of gravity might soon no longer apply. There’s every indication that back in the seventeenth century Newton is being persuaded by a meddling timetraveller that he should look upon the incident with the apple as a sign that he should get an appartment of his own, his very own apple Isaac Pad and stuff gravity.’
‘You’re kidding, right?’ I replied with a healthy dose of incredulity, but at that moment the Brit won his service game and pictures switched from centre-court to the large, patriotic crowd assembled in party mode on ‘Streppings Hill’ just outside the tennis complex. Amongst the throng I caught sight of a girl kitted out in the distinctive navy, green and purple uniform of a Wimbledon ballgirl.’
‘They’re all over the place,’ Kai explained. ‘They have to be as at any moment gravity could be undiscovered. Nobody could then be certain of where any ball will land once struck or even if it would land at all.’
‘But, surely, if Newton fails to discover gravity someone else will come along later and do just that?’
‘Oh, it’s like that is it?’ Diamonde replied contemptuously. ‘I honestly don’t know why famous figures from history bother, when someone else would’ve come along soon after to do the same thing. Thank God we don’t all have that same disrespectful attitude. The statue makers would be out of work.’
The revelation that The HIstory Maintenance Commission was engaged in a battle to save the law of gravity intrigued me and I agreed to my strange phenomenon being assessed by Professor Delphi in New York City for the benefit of mankind but as long as I retained involvement. The decisive factor came, as I mulled things over, when I looked through my window and seen a Wimbledon ballboy positioned by my neighbour’s hedge ready toto search there should gravity no longer have a say.
‘Christ,’ I exclaimed, ‘in Maidstone, too!’
In PART 6: HAVE THE WRIGHT BROTHERS HAD THEIR WINGS CLIPPED?