John Vane: Roy’s Summer of Sport  (Wednesday 4 July 2012) Selsdon man

John Vane: Roy’s Summer of Sport (Wednesday 4 July 2012) Selsdon man

Another day at home. Roy rang Brian while watching Roger Federer overrun a Russian as Prince William and Kate Middleton looked on. There was no “Hello” just a clipped, impatient, “Brian Paine.”

“It’s Roy, here.”

“Ah, Roy. You’re very elusive.”

“You said it wasn’t urgent.”

“Yes, I did…” A mannered qualification hung in Brian’s saloon bar pause. “It’s about the house.”


“The market’s rising, I think we ought to hang on.”

“You mean rent it for a while?”

“It would be wise, I feel. Might be worth another five thou in a year.”

Roy recoiled, as he always did when his brother’s calculator whirred.

“Have you talked to Nerys about this?” Roy asked, with all the innocence he could summon.

“Yes. She found the notion unsettling.”

“She could probably use the money right away.”


Federer left Centre Court to cheers. Murray came on to louder ones. His quarter-final opponent was the Spaniard Ferrer – the seventh seed, a stubborn obstacle. Roy struggled to concentrate on whatever Brian was saying.

“I suppose I’m wondering if it’s worth the trouble,” he said.

“Oh, no trouble really. We just need to find a nice family; business people, maybe, looking for a temporary base near the airport and not too far from London.”

Roy’s eyes followed the knock-up, his mind becoming glazed.

“Well, Brian, it is your house.”

Guilt, that’s what Nerys said: they’d given the house to Brian because Don felt bad about him.

“Yes, but I felt I should consult.” A smirk slipped into Brian’s purr. “I don’t want to seem too ‘Selsdon Man’ about it.”

Roy ignored this. “I’d sell and be done with it, but it’s your call.”

“Very well. I’ll dwell on it. So what exactly are you doing, these days Roy?”

“Getting by. Taking things a bit easier these days.”

“Nerys tells me you’re having some sort of crisis.”

“Nerys says a lot of silly things.”

Brian let out a low chuckle. Roy waited for him to go away.

“I’ll speak to you soon, Roy,” said Brian, in an abruptly lightened tone. “Love to Kristie. Bye.” Gone.

For the next half hour Roy paced the room, breathing hard, muttering rejoinders he hadn’t thought of at the time. Murray lost the first set on a tie-break and fell behind in the second. His plight drew Roy back to the sofa and a different form of stress.

There was a second tie-break. Murray won it to make the score one set all. Roy rushed to the kitchen, put a pizza in the oven, grabbed beer, grabbed crisps. Murray took control, slowly, relentlessly wearing down the man they called “Roadrunner” and “The Wall” and winning after yet another tie-break in the fourth.

Roy punched the air. He looked around at the front room’s proliferating clutter. Things had to get worse before they got better. He would keep on and on. He would prevail.

Photograph: Selsdon Hotel. All previous instalments of Roy’s Summer of Sport are HERE. Follow John on Twitter.

On London strives to provide the best possible writing about the capital city. Become a supporter for £5 a month (or £50 a year) and receive an action-packed weekly newsletter and free entry to online events. Details here.

Categories: Culture, Roy's Summer of Sport

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.