When I was a little girl, we lived at a place called Home Farm, just outside Newbury in Berkshire. We rented part of a house on the farm. There was a lot to do in the English countryside; making houses with bails of straw, for example, and cycling around the lanes. But by far my favourite thing was hitting a tennis ball against a wall in one of the large barns. When the calves were there, they would watch if there was no food to eat, but otherwise I was alone.
I was mad about tennis even then. I collected a scrapbook of all the press clipping when Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in1977. I tried to get into the team at my school, Shaw House School for Girls. It was all going swimmingly until I told the captain, Agnes, how to deal with her facial hair problem. I’m not sure she thought she had a problem with facial hair and thus what could have been a celebrated school career was cruelly thwarted. I never even got to try out for the team.
This morning I was delighted to find that Leo has discovered the joys of hitting a ball against a wall. All the furniture downstairs was moved (it is too hot to hit outside) and there he was, blissfully practicing hie forehand and backhand. We even had a little rally together, us against the wall. The wall won of course, it always does.
I am happy to announce that in addition to the wall, Leo has discovered the joy of playing tennis (we have played every evening since we got back), watching tennis (when I was ill with food poisoning this weekend he lay on my bed with me and watched four hours of tennis clips on Youtube) and learning about tennis (we get lessons from a website called Fuzzy Yellow Balls), as well as talking about tennis at every given opportunity.
This is all ideal for me, because poor Rupert has had enough. “My last wife was obsessed with golf, and you’re obsessed with tennis. Can’t I just have a normal wife?” he complained yesterday as I was telling him of my plans for Leo’s tennis-playing future. Clearly he needs to win Wimbledon, as soon as possible, and my plan is to recruit Rafa as his coach once he retires (just in case you have forgotten what Rafa looks like, here’s his picture).
So as long as Leo stays keen, I will always have someone to talk to, and I won’t ever have to hit a ball against a wall again. Once he starts school again in September I will also impress on him the importance of telling the school captain how fetching his moustache is.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2011