January 2010 Archives

Help Guy and Mary Kewney...


UPDATE (April 8, 2010): Guy died in the early hours of this morning. We - Adrian (who did the hard work of organizing the Paypal end), Mary, and guy's daughter Lucy - would all like to thank everyone who joined in; your generosity undeniably helped make an awful situation a little less tough, and I know Guy was very moved by it. Guy did have life insurance, so the position now is rather different.

Lucy and Mary will be reading comments and responses posted at Guy's LIveJournal, and also at David Tebbutt's blog. *This* blog eats all non-spam comments for reasons I've never been able to understand or fix (it drives me mad).

PC Pro also has an obit.

As most of Guy's friends know, he was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and has been undergoing treatment for some months (he sporadically posts updates here. While Britain of course has the wonderful NHS, being ill and freelance is still a difficult financial combination.

Accordingly, Adrian Mars has volunteered to collect donations via Paypal to aid Guy and Mary cope with bills and possibly even give them the wherewithal for themselves the odd bit of luxury. Adrian is here merely acting as a conduit. Below are two buttons. Use the top one to send a donation to Guy and Mary with a note of who it's from. Use the bottom one if you'd like to send them an anonymous donation - that is, Adrian will know who you are, but Guy and Mary will not. Either way, credit card statements will show the name Adrian Mars as the recipient.


Use the button below for identified donations:

Use the below one for anonymous (identified to Adrian, but not Guy and Mary) donations:

A frequent problem at tennis clubs is: what to do when only three players turn up? The usual solution, playing rotating games of two-on-one, isn't satisfactory for a number of reasons. If you switch around every game it's tedious. If you switch every 3-4 games, it feels a little less pointless and boring, but if your players are of varying standards there's usually someone who feels overwhelmed. A lot of people openly hate "threes" - and it's notable that every country attributes it to some *other* country. English people call it "playing American"; Americans call it "Australian", and I don't know what Australians call it.

I've come up with an alternative (I'm probably not the first) I'm calling Triplets until someone tells me it's already been named something else. So far, those who have tried it have been enthusiastic.

- Two of the three players play one game of singles. The loser stands down and is replaced by the third player. Repeat for as long as you want. No one ever sits out more than one game at a time, and someone who goes on a winning streak gets to keep playing. If you want to keep score (people do) the winner is the person who wins the most games.

- If it's very cold it's probably a good idea to play sudden death on the 2nd deuce, so the waiting player doesn't freeze.

- A player who has played two successive games on the same end of the court changes ends.

- The two players in the first game determine who serves first by racquet spin. Thereafter, there are two variants.

For players who can't remember things: the player coming onto court serves. This has the slight disadvantage that a player on a winning streak never serves.

For players who *can* remember things: each pair alternates serve - eg, A serves, playing B. B loses, is replaced by C, who serves. C loses, replaced by B, who serves because A served last time A and B met. B loses, is replaced by C - but last game A vs C C served so A serves. Etc. It sounds confusing when written down, but follows the normal logic of tennis.

- If there is one strong player and two markedly weaker ones, it's probably best to start with the two weaker players facing each other. Otherwise, they may never play each other.

You do wind up sitting out for games, but as against that, you run around more when you are playing because you're playing singles. In practice, unless one player is *really* out of the others' class, any individual's winning streak tends to be self-limiting.

Feedback to refine the rules welcome.


Kew is a small place, and after you've lived here a while you recognize people on the street that you've seen around a lot. One such - who in fact I may well know from the bowls section of one of my tennis clubs, I'm never quite sure - is a tiny older woman with one of those iron-grey mannish haircuts. (I say tiny: she makes me feel BIG, and I'm only 5'6"). She was standing in the middle of the sidewalk (pavement, for Brits) yesterday as I came walking back home from an errand, and she stopped me with that: "You see that woman over there?" Across the street was a small, bent figure with a cane, wrapped in a long, camel-colored coat, a scarf over her head, and I think glasses as well: you couldn't really see the actual person. She was walking rather slowly, as you might expect.

"She's as old as the hills," said my interlocutor with admiration. "But she won't take any help. She did something in the War [World War II for Americans], but she won't ever talk about it." We watched a little longer, and then I said something like, "And how are *you*?" and she said, "Oh, fine", and the conversation ended. When I got to the far end of my street, I turned and looked back. The woman with the cane was just crossing the end of it, quite possibly on her way to the shop around the corner (Squire's). I will have to watch for her in future.


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