flying a kite

A Letter to The Times from the Reverend Wilfred A Tighe:

“Sir, Aeroplanists should keep their eyes skinned for agents other than human at the earth end of a kite string. I have seen a horse flying a kite.

image found here

It was in Hong Kong twenty years ago. The kite swooped into a paddock where horses grazed: the string snapped, leaving perhaps 30 feet of its length still attached to the frame work: the free end fell across the rump of a horse: a twitch of the tail secured (mysteriously) the string; the animal moved, felt the drag, moved faster, became frightened, began to gallop – and the kite rose and soared beautifully and in partnership with its flier round and round the paddock for almost a minute.

Alexander Graham Bell’s Horse Kite found here

Three others saw this with me; they are all alive today. For the benefit of the unkindly suspicious, this equine feat was observed during the last of three hard sets of tennis and more than two hours after a very light lunch.”

image found here

Published in: on November 22, 2011 at 6:54 am  Comments (37)  
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suck on a sugar lump

One of the greatest female tennis players of all time was  Suzanne Lenglen.

No matter where she went or what she did, controversy, scandal, gossip and rumor buzzed about Lenglen’s bandeaued head like a swarm of benevolent bees. This delightful, outrageous and quintessentially French woman was the unrivaled queen of tennis from 1919 to 1926.

She was continually doing in broad daylight what most people only dreamed of in the dark of night. She drank, she danced, she smoked, she swore, she wore her skirts short and her arms bare and she had lovers—lots of them.

Regardless of the climate, she appeared for tennis clad in fur, or fur-trimmed coats with large collars that framed her pale, powdered face and dark red lips. Beneath the silk dress she wore silk stockings rolled just above the knee, and who knew what else.

In 1919, with post war Europe at peace, Lenglen was 20 years old and ready. She played the defending Wimbledon champion, 40 year old Chambers, in three sets. Chambers, the proper Edwardian in her ankle-length tennis costume, and Lenglen, the child-woman at the dawn of an era, short-skirted, brazenly bare-armed, consuming cognac-soaked sugar lumps tossed to her from the grandstand by her father.

For company Suzanne had her mother, a personal maid, Helene, an Irish masseur named William T. O’Brien and Ann Kinsolving, 19, a cub reporter for the Baltimore News. Her interviews were frequently conducted over breakfast in her hotel suite, where her costume ranged from black silk pajamas to a white satin negligee. At breakfast, late in the morning, her bed became the center of a sort of royal levee where she was massaged by O’Brien in front of everybody.

Carefully excluded from photographs but often included in Suzanne’s excursions around San Diego was a tall, tanned and very rich California playboy, one Baldwin M. Baldwin, known as the Sheik. When she returned to Europe she took the already married Sheik back with her for four years.

The one event in her life that she could not stage-manage was her death, of pernicious anemia. On June 29 she was given a transfusion and on July 4 she was dead. Floral displays from tennis clubs filled three automobiles in the procession to the cemetery in suburban Sain-Ouen. Suzanne was buried in the family plot, alongside her beloved Papa.

Published in: on March 6, 2010 at 7:27 am  Comments (38)  
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