Dear Dottie,

Saturday, 27 August 2011

My tennis playing days are definitively over. Went to the club last night with dr. Veltman – not that he plays, of course. Dr. Veltman has never touched a ball in his life.
Oh, untrue – he informs me that he played soft ball in grammar school, as an unfit 15 year old. He was awful at it, but did once score a homerun. There was strangely little opposition, he noticed, as he ran his round of glory around the bases. When he arrived, triumphantly, at home base, he saw a group of people standing around something. They turned angrily to him. In their midst lay, on the ground, a girl. Turned out that after he had struck the ball – in itself a most unexpected event – and thrown the bat away to start his run, the bat had hit a classmate in the head. She was unconscious. He doesn’t know what became of her.
At the club, dr. Veltman drinks wine and smokes small cigars, staring at the players in an off-putting way. Now and then he shakes his head slowly and sadly, which can put less confident tennis players right off their service..
I happened to watch a women’s game (no men playing, or I wouldn’t have, of course) and it was not pretty. These women have no sense of dress or dignity. A huge girl, fairly young, carried frightening amounts of fat on her stomach. As I’ve always said: all women should watch their figure, but tall girls should subside on dry salt crackers entirely. If there’s too much of you on one axis, you can’t afford branching out on another axis.
Not only was this girl huge, she wore her t shirt tucked into her shorts. I wouldn’t have dreamed of showing up in anything but a stylish tailor made skirt, in my day – mind you, nothing so extravagant as these Williams girls wear on the tour. Flashy and vulgar. But shorts on a woman are just horrifying. This girl’s looked to be made of nylon, and very tightly followed her giant thighs. 
And as she stood there, labouring away at her service, sweat glistening on that big forehead, I realized at once that I can never play again. How could I try to beat such a girl, whose day depends on a win in these silly club championships? She has nothing else in her life!
I know I’m famous for saying plain girls have it easy, and on the whole that is true – any moderately confident plain girl has the world as her oyster. But there are of course limits as to how far you can push being plain. And she pushed the envelope. I would have been unable to muster the will to beat this girl. As I’d look at that desperate, red face, and the large, awkward, labouring body, I would have been frightened lest the last bit of light would depart from those lifeless, tragic eyes.
So I shall play no more. Oh, a little mixed double now and then, purely for recreational purposes – but no competition. Truly, if I weren’t so soft hearted, I would probably have been a formidable player. I have fabulous technique, my teacher always told me (and not only at tennis, he said, but that’s another subject.) I suppose I might have made it to Wimbledon.
Bought a book called “Controlling People” by Patricia Evans. What do you think – there’s no instructions in it, whatever! False advertising I call that. I will toss it into the bin.


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