Love Juice.

June 25, 2014

Watch TV

A little kid came trotting down the stairs and into the kitchen, “Mum what’s Love Juice ?”

Stunned into silence for a moment his mother responded with the traditional answer to such a question, “wait till your father gets home and ask him.”

Of course no sooner was hubby’s face through the door he was set upon and told to go and have that talk with his son, you know the one you have been putting off for so long, and find out what he’s been watching on TV !

So off trots dad and sits son down on the edge of his bed and duly informs him all about the birds and the bees and where babies come from and how they got there in the first place. When he’d finished he asked, “ do you understand now all about love juice ?”

“Yeh! Thanks dad.”

“Tell me son, what were you watching on TV that made you ask the question in the first place ?”

“Wimbledon,” came the reply.

With the world famous tennis tournament well into its stride the joke above brought to mind the answer I gave to a fellow Linkedin member’s question earlier in the week about the confusing way a game of tennis is scored, 15, 30 40 Etc.

Needless to say the answer or answers, are buried deep in antiquity and also needless to say the British had a hand in maintaining the confusion.

As far as I can ascertain the first European version of the game was a simple form of eleventh century monastic exercise in France called ‘jeu de paume,’ literally, game of the palm which was played by hitting a ball over a net using the bare hand.

By the thirteenth century French nobility had taken the game over calling it ‘Tenez’ or ‘Take This,’ and it was played inside the courtyard of their home.

Hyde-tennis-court

As you can see from the picture, what became Royal or Real Tennis is played on a court with what appears to be low lying roofs on two sides. This is to emulate the courtyards of old where the ball was deemed to be in play as it bounced off the walls or rolled off the slope of the roof.

The game then was not the power mad baseline smashing marathon of today it was much more gentile and I suppose most points scored would be at the end of fairly long rallies. To that end time intervals were imposed for rest periods and the game was divided up into four with the score being called at 15, 30 and 45. There wasn’t a score called at 60 as this was the end of the game. In French the words for 15 and 30 are much shorter than the words for 45 so it is likely that over the years it was abbreviated to 40.

If the score happened to be tied at 40 a call of ‘a’deux’ meaning play would continue until one player won two new points in a row.

A score of zero was called “l’oeuf” (egg ) because of the shape of the 0. Over the years l’oeuf became Love and a’deux became deuce.

So far so good now enter the British in the form of one Major Walter Clopton Wingfield who after seeing the French game took it outside and thus invented lawn tennis in 1874 which, for reasons best know to himself, he called Sphairistikè (Greek for “ball games).”

Needless to say the name was dumped soon after but the game itself grew in popularity. The All England Croquet Club, in Wimbledon, in 1875 set aside one lawn for the pursuit of this new game.

By 1877 the club changed its name to the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club. In 1882 the term Croquet was dropped when Tennis became the main activity of the club. However in 1889 it was restored to the club’s name for sentimental reasons and the club’s name became The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

Given the British love of all things French it is something of a mystery as to why we kept the centuries old French scoring system as documented by Wingfield in his journal.

I suppose we could change it to; ‘One, Two, Three, Game,’ which would undoubtedly bring a response from aficionados of “YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!”

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2 Responses to “Love Juice.”

  1. Raani York Says:

    Holy Macro, Merlin – this really sent me off, giggling like crazy. It was so funny!! Wimbledon!! ROOOOOAAAARRRR! And these stories of the birds and the bees for nothing! LOL 🙂

  2. merlinfraser Says:

    Hi Raani… Leave them laughing is my Motto… I can be serious but not for too long….. Thanks for stopping by.


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