The Tour de France has started which means that a surprising number of my friends are glued to their televisions, laptops, tablets and phones to follow it. I can’t say I see the attraction. To me, it’s like watching paint dry. But in combination with a bottle of excellent Portuguese red wine called ‘The Hat Trick’, it did get me wondering about sports idioms that have been seamlessly integrated into everyday language.

‘Hat trick’ comes from cricket and means three wins in a row which wouldn’t happen if you were ‘on a sticky wicket’. Outside the cricket pitch, that’s really any difficult situation. American football gave us ‘blind-sided’ which is what you are when you don’t see something coming and obviously, if you ‘drop the ball’, you’re letting the team down by making a mistake. That might tempt you to ‘throw in the towel’ as boxers do as a sign of defeat but ‘the ball’s in your court’ so it’s your turn to make a move. A person can be ‘out of their league’ even if they don’t play baseball: they simply don’t have the skills to succeed.

It seems only fair to end with one from the world of cycling: ‘back-pedalling’ is what you do if forced to change your opinion about something. Who knows? There might come a day when I watch the Tour de France!