Tuesday, 25 March 2014

I Join A Club

A couple of weeks ago, I was playing badminton with my son, and towards the end of our hour, Steve and Ross on the next court asked for a game of doubles.  I didn't know they were called Steve and Ross till we lost to them conclusively and they invited us to join their club.

When I was a teenager in Highbury, two brothers, John and Len, ran a badminton club on Saturday evenings.  John had lost the sight in one eye due to a squash ball accident, so he occasionally missed a shot. Len never did.

In the year of the Queen's Silver Jubilee, I was paired with Len for the club competition.  Len explained that this was because I was the youngest and taught me to play a tactic called 'front and back'.  This meant he ran around at the back of the court retrieving the shuttle with style and speed, whilst I batted the occasional net shot, sometimes over the net.  Len was the kindest man I knew, and showed me how to do stealthy serves with the feathered shuttles.

On my first visit to Ross and Steve's club, not one of my stealthy serves was stealthy.  They passed no comment about this and were very welcoming.  This evening, I rediscovered the knack.  The stealthiness involves serving short, just over the line, towards the outer edge of the court.  The angle of the serve is therefore rather obtuse.

When Len and I won the competition, it was was one of the unexpected moments of my childhood.  I was given a keyring and a round of applause.  I can still see the keyring's hexagonal silver sculpted edge and dark blue plastic centre inlaid with '1977'.

I kept my keyring for years.  After it broke, I put it with two sixpences, a thrupenny bit, a gymnastics colours badge and several buttons in a drawer in my bedroom.  I haven't seen it since the house move after my mother died when everything got a bit confused, but I can still feel the weight of it in my hand.


  1. wonderfully evocative, beautifully written...bravo x

  2. Thank you baztench for your kind comment on this and other posts x