Sunday, 6 July 2008

Cheer up, the worst is yet to come

I was tidying my bookshelves earlier today and re-discovered an interesting book that I bought in 1982 when I was still a student in the UK. The book is called `The Book of Heroic Failures' and is a compilation of real stories of unsuccessful attempts at doing things. It seems that being a failure can sometimes make you famous too. Examples of disaster stories include The Worst Burglar, The Man Who Almost Invented The Vacuum Cleaner and many others. I can remember having a good chuckle while reading these stories.

The book was written by Stephen Pile, who calls himself the President of the Not Terribly Good Club of Great Britain. Contrary to his tag of not being terribly good at anything, his effort became a bestseller. It prompted the compilation of a sequel called `The Return of Heroic Failures'. A tagline on the second book says, `The runaway success of The Book Of Heroic Failures was a severe embarrassment to its author.'

I wish to share a story from the second book relating to the Equality of Sexes theme. Appropriately today is the end of Wimbledon Tennis fortnight. The story involves one of the all-time great Wimbledon ladies champion, Billie Jean King.

The Least Successful Male Chauvinist

Sick of hearing about female equality, Mr Bobby Riggs challenged Billie Jean King to a `battle of the sexes' tennis match.

`I want to set Women's Lib back twenty years, to get women back in the home where they belong,' he said, adding that they are at their prettiest when they're barefoot, pregnant, taking care of the kiddies and doing the housework.

Although he had not been a Wimbledon champion since 1939, he told a press conference before the match on 20 September 1973, that natural male superiority would be enough to defeat the reigning women's champion.

`I will scrape her up,' he said. `She is a woman and is subject to women's emotional frailties. She will crack up during the match.'

In front of 39,000 people, the largest crowd in tennis history (at that time), Mrs King thrashed him 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

Pic of Billie Jean King from the sports biography in


Patricia said...

Hi! I'm old enough to remember that actually happening! And following it in the newspapers as it unfolded. How I wished that Billie Jean King would wipe the court with him - and she did! Hahaha! Thanks for tinkling my memory - I must've been in sixth form then.



I thought I was the only one who bought strange books like that. Nice to know I have company ;)

Oldstock said...

Hi there Pat,

I read that King and Riggs became good friends after the match. Just goes to show that sometimes you have to learn things the hard way!

Speaking of strange books, I'm still looking for a book in my collection about laws and principles celebrating the art of Pessimism. Things that are in the Murphy's Law league. One that I remember well is The Extension of Murphy's Law : If a thing can go wrong, it will happen at the worst possible moment.

Now if I can only remember where I kept the book...

Thanks for dropping by. Will visit your blog soon.

Patricia said...

Hahaha... I know what you're saying! Somewhere in the mess I call my bookshelf is a book by Murphy's mother-in-law!! Really, I lie not. It's too funny, but I can't lay my hands on it either.

However, I did find 'Parkinson's Law....' and now my husband is shouting out parts of it to me :(