Eaton Bray Lawn Tennis Club
Posted on December 6, 2007
As the nights progressively draw in, the less hardy members of our club (including myself) are sometimes less inclined to venture outside in the dark damp evenings for a set or two of tennis, and more disposed to sitting in front of the fire with a warming brew and the dulcet tones of Bruce 'nice to see you' Forsyth blaring from the TV set as he once again tells the couple, with a celebratory possessing the dancing skills of a pregnant warthog, that they are his favourites. So in order to entice a few of these lounge-lovers onto the courts, we organised a 'Round Robin' tournament last week and were delighted that 12 members turned out on what was actually a rather nice afternoon, and we only had to pay 7 of them. For those not in the know of such colloquial tennis terms, a 'round robin' involves games of doubles where everyone plays with everyone else in rotation, swapping partners after 4 games (tennis partners, not what you're thinking) and keeps count of their own scores as to how many games they have won. It's all quite simple after you've played in a few hundred competitions, but fortunately there's always someone there who nearly understands it, so by the end of an afternoon's play punctuated by cries such as 'who swaps with whom?', 'is it sudden death deuce?' and 'ouch that hurt' a winner was decided and awarded the usual lavish prize of a bottle of cheap plonk. As befits tradition, the last placed player also receives a special consolatory prize, so at least I went home with something.
As Focus goes to press, I'm delighted to bring 'hold the front page' news about last night's Quiz night held in our clubhouse. It's not known as the Tardis for nothing; from the outside one would never imagine that any more than 32 people could be 'reasonably' comfortably seated inside, but blow me down if we didn't have 33 people including quizmaster Keith Blackburn ensconced. Let me tell you about Keith; although he's never made the same big time as brother Tony (and therefore never munched on tsetse fly larvae in the jungles of Australia) he does put together a rather excellent quiz, and would make a welcome fellow passenger on a long haul flight to that same country, as he can keep one amused for hours, nay days, on fascinating trivia to prevent you from falling asleep and therefore making a complete hash of adapting to the vastly different time zone. 'Who invented NASA?' and 'What decade was Zinc' might have been 2 of the questions, but I may have got those mixed up, as I did most of the answers. My team, '4 Js and an A', consisted of myself (the 'A') plus four others whose names began with a 'J'; quite clever we thought, but no bonus points. I can reveal that three of the four were a Jane, a Jan and a John, but the fourth member has begged anonymity which I have to respect (thanks for the fiver J*nny, 29). Up until the last round, we were level pegging with Chairman Ross's team "One overly loud Italian and his long suffering wife (Shelagh 'where's me mini') plus a couple of hangers-on".
The last round was critical. Could we make up the two points required to overtake them and prevent another six months of insufferable smugness? It all hinged on the last question; 'Which three small islands in the British Isles issues their own postage stamps?'. 'One overly loud' etc went for Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, whilst I, as chief scribe, was persuaded to note down the Isle of Wight, Isle of Dogs and Isla St Clair. Inevitably we were pipped at the post and our Chairman delighted in handing out to his team their much deserved prizes of quality wine, one of which my wife and I had donated, so at least one of them will have a shock when they open that at their next dinner party. Home made is always the most enjoyed, I find, and Goldfish wine has to be savoured at almost freezing to be fully appreciated, although we didn't make that clear on the bottle notes. Thinking about it, we missed out any reference to the goldfish either. Probably best though after all the media trouble last time, although the guinea-pig fruit cake has since proved a gastronomic success at our local market cake stall in Dunstable. Call for further details, but leave it a couple more months until my release date.
Source: Focus, December/January 2008
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