Monday, May 17, 2010

It's so hard to get good service these days.

In an attempt to get the young gentlemen away from the TV, I set up our badminton net in the back yard, and we've all been trying to improve our game. This starts with drill in the correct pronunciation. (It's not "badmitten," what's the matter with you Americans? And while we're about it, the all-England tennis championship is played at Wimbledon -- I once lived there -- not Wimbleton.)

I used to be quite good at badminton -- allow me my moment of immodesty, I didn't get many sports genes beyond the ability to run fast in a more-or-less straight direction* -- but my immediate need these days is figuring out which strength of reading glasses gives me the best view of a rapidly approaching shuttlecock.  (My late brother, on the other hand, was a very good amateur player.)

For Primus and Secundus, the priority is getting good returns going. For Tertius, however, the ability to connect the racket to the shuttlecock is, so far, elusive. Even during service. A little frustrated, despite our giving him five service attempts each time, he disappears from the game. Five minutes later, he emerges from the house with a bottle of Poland Spring and a cat glove puppet and announces that "for your entertainment," the cat is going to sing the alphabet while he drinks the water.

When you allow for the fact that the cat can only say the syllables "me-ow," it was a pretty good attempt.**

*Actually, I'm not bad at croquet. I once duplicated the pool/snooker "jump shot" with a croquet mallet on the pristine lawn of St. Anne's College, Oxford.

**Which reminds me of the story of the two cats watching a game of tennis, and one turns to the other and says "My dad used to be in that racket."


  1. My English-born mother used to blame Johhny Carson for making Americans think Wimbledon was pronounced with a "T". Every year as it approached she would call a local radio personality that she liked to remind him of the proper pronunciation. By then she had acquired a gentle, American accent. When told that she sounded southern(like a Georgia peach) she would reply, "I'm from southern England."

  2. There's a line from the first Doctor Who episode starring Lancashire actor Christopher Eccleston in the title role of the Time Lord from the distant planet Gallifrey. Billie Piper asks "If you are an alien how come you sound like you're from the North?" and the Doctor answers "Lots of planets have a north!"