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Predicting the weather 

Play is meant to start on centre court at Wimbledon in 15 minutes. So of course the rain is chucking down here in south London. We’ve had about six weeks with virtually no rain until yesterday. Wimbledon is a wonderful harbinger of rain.

For what it’s worth, here are my tennis predictions, rain permitting. Men’s semifinals: Federer v Grosjean, Henman v Roddick. Finals: Federer v Roddick, Federer champion (I will note, however, that the last time the men’s top two seeds reached the final was in 1982). Women’s semifinals: Serena v Mauresmo, Venus v Myskina. Finals: Serena v Myskina, Serena champion.

Given my past record, whatever you do, don’t try to make money betting with my predictions.

The pacifist bull 

In a step out of the ordinary, I’m the narrator in a performance of Ferdinand, written for solo violin and speaker, at my son’s school this afternoon. Krysia Osostowicz, leader of the Dante Quartet, will be doing the more difficult work on the violin.

I remember my parents reading me the original Ferdinand when I was a child, and it’s a favourite of my two children now. Forty years ago, however, I don’t think I picked up the strong pacifist theme in Munro Leaf’s book.

Apparently, Hitler ordered the book burned while Stalin allowed it to be the only non-communist children’s book published in Russia. Gandhi called it his favourite book.

Straw in the wind 

I don’t place a lot of stock in the predictive power of crosswords, but Saturday’s Guardian prize puzzle had an encouraging clue: “Kindest characters go wrong in quarry, possibility for next year? (9,5)”

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