With perfect timing, with the final episode of the Dr Who series looming later that day, the comedian David Mitchell conjured on Wimbledon finals weekend the thought that Wimbledon was so, well, extra-terrestrial that maybe it was being used as a lab by aliens:
Everything’s been freshly painted, and it all matches; there are flowers in pots that have never been pissed on; alcohol is freely available but there’s not a trace of vomit – it’s quite simply how things should be. It’s so perfect, it’s like a slightly unnerving sci-fi utopia – you expect to discover at any moment that the place is kept going by burning baby brains, or that some horrible tarantula master race is secretly farming everyone, but they’ve discovered that we become more delicious if we’re stuffed with strawberries and champagne and kept in a permanently good mood.
It reminded me of Isaac Asimov’s deft short story Jokester, in which a man whose only social skill lies in telling jokes decides to find out where jokes come from. Of course, he discovers that they’re being used as a tool by another race to experiment on humans – and the minute he finds this out he can’t remember any joke