AT least twice a week, I’m Roger Federer. I may be closing in on 60 and have dodgy knees that have required three operations so far, but I love my weekend games of tennis with a passion.

And, in my head, I really am Roger for the duration of my matches. I even push my hair behind my ears like he does, despite the fact that there’s less and less hair to push anywhere.

My passing shots – on the odd occasion that they come off – are sublime like his. My victories are all Grand Slam titles en route to becoming the greatest player the game has ever known. For a couple of hours every Saturday and Sunday morning, I am lost in a fog of my own delusion.

Anyway, there I was last Saturday, playing another club member called Andy: respected solicitor during the week; impeccably turned out tennis player at the weekends; exponent of arguably the best topspin backhand in the club; and proud owner of a dapper new pair of Roger Federer shorts.

Both of us are fiercely competitive and our games are always very close. This particular match was no exception and, after an hour of gladiatorial battle, we’d reached a critical moment. It was 6-5 to me in in the first set and a glorious, under-pressure cross-court forehand had made it my advantage.

Just as I was about to serve for the set, my wife pulled up in her car and shouted: “Don’t forget you need to pick up the paint for the garage door by 12 o’clock because that’s when the shop shuts.”

We’d just spent a small fortune on replacing our old white front door with a very smart red one with frosted glass. The adjacent bright blue garage door didn’t match it, so it needed to be painted with the same tone of red, and the door company had given my wife details of the exact colour we needed.

She poked a piece of paper through the wire fence. “This is the colour we need mixing,” she told me. “Two cans should be enough but see what they say.”

“OK, that’s fine, “I replied, and went back to bouncing the ball in preparation to serve for the set.

“Oh, and we might need primer as well, with it being a blue door,” she added.

“Righto,” I said.

“They shut at 12 o’clock on a Saturday,” she repeated.

Now, I’m guessing this isn’t a scenario that Roger Federer has ever had to deal with. I know he’s ice-cool under pressure but I suspect he may well crack if he was serving for the Wimbledon title and his wife shouted down with instructions about getting the right paint for the garage door.

For the record, I served a double fault but, somehow, I managed to re-focus to win the set before going on to seal the match. Even so, the distraction took the gloss off my victory.


THANK you to hard-working colleague Matt Westcott for letting me know about young son Ethan’s comment on the way to school the other day: “Dad, if you get to work early, do you get time to play?”

THANKS also to Colin Scott, a father-of-two from Durham, for letting me know about his six-year-old son Kieran’s thoughts following a reading lesson at school.

“Dad, you know the Big Bad Wolf goes to the house of straw, and then the house of sticks, and then the house of bricks?”

“Yes, son,” replied Colin.

“Well, do you think they should have called the police?” Kieran asked.

FINALLY, I’m grateful to Tom, a fellow grandad from Darlington, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Tom’s grandson, Adam, five, came up with a searching question the other day: “Grandad, when you’re dead, can I have your car? I like your car, Grandad.”