Sunday, March 9, 2008


Today's Tiddlywinkydink is another biographical sketch of the real person behind the historical televersion.

In the 'Poirot' episode "Death In The Clouds", the Belgian detective was in Paris for a tennis tournament. And the star attraction during the tournament, the Roger Federer of his day, was Fred Perry. (Not being a tennis fan, that's as relevant as I can get.)

Here's what I learned from Wikipedia about Perry:

Frederick John Perry (May 18, 1909 – February 2, 1995) born in Stockport, Cheshire. was an English tennis player and three-time Wimbledon champion. He was the World No. 1 player for five years, four of them consecutive, 1934 through 1938, the first three years as an amateur. He was the last Englishman to win the Wimbledon Men's Singles. Perry is considered by some to have been one of the greatest male players to have ever played the game. In his 1979 autobiography Jack Kramer, the long-time tennis promoter and great player himself, called Perry one of the six greatest players of all time.

Kramer, however, has several caveats about Perry. He says that Bill Tilden once called Perry "the world's worst good player". Kramer says that Perry was "extremely fast; he had a hard body with sharp reflexes, and he could hit a forehand with a snap, slamming it on the rise—and even on the fastest grass. That shot was nearly as good as Segura's two-handed forehand." His only real weakness, says Kramer, "was his backhand. Perry hit underslice off that wing about 90 percent of the time, and eventually at the very top levels—against Vine and Budge—that was what did him in. Whenever an opponent would make an especially good shot, Perry would cry out 'Very clevah.' I never played Fred competitively, but I heard enough from other guys that that 'Very clevah' drove a lot of opponents crazy."

[Toobworld note: So actually, he sounds like the John McEnroe of his day.....]

Kramer also says that in spite of his many victories, both as an amateur and as a professional, Perry was an "opportunist, a selfish and egotistical person, and he never gave a damn about professional tennis. He was through as a player the instant he turned pro. He was a great champion, and he could have helped tennis, but it wasn't in his interest so he didn't bother." "Death In The Clouds" was broadcast in January of 1992. As Perry lived for another three years, it's not unlikely he got to see this televersion of himself.

If Kramer's opinion is to be taken as fact, Fred Perry would have made for an excellent suspect in a 'Poirot' mystery. Or more likely, a murder victim.....

Toby OB

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