With the promise of summer on the horizon (allegedly), and Wimbeldon just around the corner I started to think about all those childhood summers spent either indoors watching Wimbeldon outside with an old battered tennis racquet and a chewed up tennis ball amusing myself.
I would play against a brick wall, any brick wall would do; the side of the shed, the gable end of a house, the back of a garage. I wasn't alone though, my brothers and sister would have a go too and it is fair to say that we were all pretty useless, except for my sister who had a natural aptitude for any sport that involved a ball, much to mine and I am sure my brothers embarrassment.
We grew up in a time when we just weren't allowed to hang around inside the house. If the weather was in any way good my mother would shout, "right, away out and play you lot!" Bless her she just wanted some peace and quiet, but what she did for us though was teach us how to make our own amusement. And amuse ourselves we did. We were always outside.
Because I grew up in a small town surrounded by countryside we were always playing in the fields or in orchards or at the park. We walked country roads, played rounders, played 'kribbins' (I think some people call it 'kerby' – it's where you stand at either side of the road and throw a football so that it bounces off the opposite kerb, if it does you get a point. Anyone remember it?
One summer though an uncle of mine offered to pay for me and my siblings to join the local tennis club and even have a few lessons!
He bought us all racquets and new balls and we were quite excited. We used to walk all the way there and then try valiantly to play. I was so bad at hitting the ball that people used to think I was deliberately messing around and invariably they would get impatient and plead with me to play properly.
What they didn't know was that I was putting all my effort into trying to make my racquet come into contact with the ball. After a while it became easier to just play the clown and mess around for real and shortly after that I gave up!
Recently though I have decided to try again. I have signed up for some group lessons. There is a tennis facility literally yards from where I live with indoor and outdoor courts so it seemed silly not to take advantage of it.
As I stepped onto the court for the first time all my old childhood fears came back to me in a flood and I started to panic that I would embarrass myself. But then I realised that everyone else was learning from scratch too and I relaxed, a little!
It's a great sport and I am really enjoying it, but I have a long way to go. It's going to take time!
That said I am really excited that one of the greats from the world of tennis will be stopping by The Morning Show to visit us this Thursday, 30th May. I say one of the greats when what I mean is the legend that is Mr. Jimmy Connors!
Often controversial but always entertaining he was not just a champion but a showman as well. He has recently released his autobiography 'Outsider' and I will get to talk to him about his childhood, career and influences.
His autobiography is incredibly well written. Yes there are career facts and figures in there but there are human stories in there too, about the influences of his mother, grandmother (two-mom) and his grandfather (Pop), his struggles on and off the court, his highs and his lows. I have found it riveting.
I'll never be Jimmy Connors on a tennis court but if I had even 0.1% of his confidence and style and showmanship I would still be 100 times better at tennis than I ever thought possible. I'll keep taking the lessons, just in case.
Tune in on Thursday, it's sure to be entertaining!
P.s. If you're just reading my blog and you missed 'The Morning Show', here is my interview with the man himself, enjoy!