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Old 14-06-2010, 21:53
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Out on a limb
Posts: 180
Default Duva sports challenge 2010

I wrote this little piece for my wife and as a wind-up for my son a while ago. We are great mates really, despite the competition and rivalry described here. Here is the slightly modified version.

Not sure where to put this on the forum, so I will stick it in Miscellaneous for now.

Duva Sports Challenge 2010

It’s very nearly time for our annual hotly-contested father and son holiday sports slugfest. This will consist of tennis, swimming races, posey diving (with lot’s of pushing-in and holding heads underwater – I really should have let him surface much earlier last year, but you live and learn I suppose), table tennis and pool. We are both very competitive and will be very much playing to win. It’s great fun (quality father and son time blah, blah) and very therapeutic as long as I can manage to overcome the initial danger of imminent cardiac arrest.

He has yet to take a set off of me at tennis (although he has come pretty close forcing me to a tie-break on a few occasions) and to my shame I have failed to heed my wife’s advice and “Just let him win now and again”. God, do they understand anything? Anyway, he’s not a ten year-old now and if he wants to win he’s going to have to earn it. However, I have to say I am more than a bit worried this year. He is actually as tall as me now, and I know I am not the biggest at five-eight, but there is something very disconcerting and unnerving when your own son can look you directly in the eye when you are both standing up. Next year at this rate he’ll be looking down on me. Just don’t get any ideas, son!

Here’s what happened in our tennis match last year:

After a couple of warm-up games (double-fault after double-fault) just “getting to know the court and judging the height of the net”, it’s advantage to him on his serve at two games all, and the little (or not so little) b*gger hits a decent first serve that swings out beyond the reach of my forehand, but I’m on my toes and a nifty sidestep to the right and a stretch means I can just get to it. Unfortunately, it comes off of the top rim of the racket and the ball flies up and over the high fence and into the field. I curse and stare at the racket with incredulity, mutter something about naff equipment and how we should bring our own, and trudge off miserably to retrieve the ball, as my son is now invoking the “Whoever hits it out, gets it” rule.

Now, Murphy’s well-known 1st Law states that the dropped toast will always land buttered-side down. A less-known variation of this law says that a miss-hit tennis ball from a court near a sheep field will invariably land in a mound of freshly laid poo. Stephen Hawking could probably explain it if he was here, and he would be most welcome as long as he didn’t mind getting his wheels clogged with cr*p. I mean there’s desiccated piles of it all over the place, it’s ninety degrees and it would be practically dry by the time it hit the ground, right? Wrong. This one is still fresh, warm, runny and wet. What are the odds on that? After all, it’s not as if one of them could have had a dodgy mutton vindaloo the night before, is it? All they do is eat is the same dry grass and scrub day-in, day-out, in one end and out the other. I remove the poo-stained ball gingerly with finger and thumb, holding it at arms-length whilst looking around for the culprit. There’s three or four within range, but they’ve all got their woolly backs to me (a very risky strategy in some parts of the world), heads down, probably peeing themselves with ovine laughter, the sods. I swear I can see their bony shoulders shaking with mirth and hear their bells a-jangling a little faster and louder than previously. I smile wickedly as I remember where we are eating this evening, and that they do a particularly fine shoulder of lamb in honey and rosemary. I am really going to enjoy that. Who’s laughing now, eh? I storm back to the court with visions of sheep massacre fresh in my mind, and invigorated with renewed aggression, I manage to take the first set.

Second set begins and it’s nip-and-tuck for a while. Sonny boy hits a glorious forehand down the line and I am on the other side of the court right over by the tram-lines. It looks a definite winner, but somehow I manage to cover the court and get my racket on it, me little legs doing nineteen to the dozen. The ball goes over the net at an impossible angle and lands about in inch inside the line. It’s a glorious running cross-court winner worthy of Federer himself (except I haven’t got the Alice band, gold lame and Coco Chanel bag - it’s a confident man who can get away with that look and still retain his machismo) and probably the best tennis shot I’ve played. Ever. Breathless, I await an inevitable complimentary response such as “Great shot, Dad!” or “How did you manage to get that back?”, but all I get is “Out, Dad”. He is trying to look all nonchalant and innocent, smiling whilst indicating an inch gap between his thumb and index finger, in the way that you do when you question a man’s masculinity. I reckon old Sigmund Freud was right when he said the son has a sub-conscious desire to castrate the father (that’s assuming the old lady doesn’t get there first, of course). The ball was in, I swear to you now the ball was good. I look around for moral support but there is none, only the disinterested sheep who wouldn’t help me now even if they could. They can read your mind you know, and in their rudimentary collective consciousness I have “SHEEP KILLER” smeared across my bare torso in the blood of innocent lambs. There’s a solitary black vulture riding the thermals over the mountains, and he could have seen it with his keen eyes; but he’s looking for something else, and if his luck’s in will probably be feasting on the same type of meat as I will later. After much heated argument, we decide to play a let. The best shot of my life and it’s a let! I win the point when he hits a weak shot into the net but to me it feels like a damp squib, and spurred on by the injustice of it all, I go on to claim the second set.

By the third set he has completely given up the ghost, and either smashes the ball wildly or doesn’t either bother to move, going all “stroppy teenager” on me. “Come on son, shift yourself. You’re not up in your room playing Modern Warfare on your X-box now. This is reality and you’re getting hammered by the old man!” It’s Death in the Afternoon, and I am toying with him like a matador showing the full repertoire of his skills, before finishing off the demoralised and exhausted bull. Ole! Drop-shot. Ole! Perfectly timed backhand. Ole! I deliver the coup de grace with an overhead smash. El Daddio indeed. It’s a six-love trouncing and after fist pumps a-plenty, I jump the net (yes, I CAN still do that) in the heady euphoria of victory and am tempted to shout out “I am Spartacus!” or something. Yes, I know I’ve just beaten a twelve (well, nearly thirteen) year old at tennis and not won a spectacular victory over the Roman Empire, but that’s not the point.

We walk back to the apartment hot, covered in sweat and totally knackered but still brimming with the aggression of combat. He’s hurrying in front of me to claim the first cold shower. On our return my wife says, “I’ve been sitting here watching you from the balcony. It’s so nice to see you enjoying yourselves together”. A cold San Miguel and a fag bring welcome respite, and I relax on the balcony and watch some local kids who are just beginning a lesson now (sensibly) the temperature has gone down a bit. My god, they are good! Little dots of only seven or eight, boys and girls who can barely see over the net hitting immaculately timed shots and excellent serves, and getting quite severe but encouraging reproaches from the coach when they don’t. I could easily be watching the next Nadal (or the female version).

That was last year, but this year I’m not so sure, guys. I mean physically my son is so much more grown-up. Taller, stronger, little ‘tache of bum fluff, voice that goes from baritone to soprano during a single sentence, getting interested in girls and that sort of thing; and I am my usual unfit mid-forties, 20-a-day self who hasn’t picked up a tennis racket for a year. I’m not in shape at all, we are going tomorrow and I know he has been playing recently and frequently with his mates. He has been “larging it” big time and revelling in telling me how he’s going to beat me. Maybe this year will be the year of the fall (it’s got to happen sometime), and I’ll be a Ken Rosewall to his Jimmy Connors.

Wish me luck (or him, if your sympathies lie in that direction)!
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Old 14-06-2010, 23:16
Gommar Goffer's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: PP permanently
Posts: 1,622

Superb read namesake - a man after my own heart - 20 a day.

can't play tennis for toffee mind
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