Saturday, 17 March 2012

Email Squash

It was with foreboding that I opened my email last week to find a message from a Sarah Loughton entitled 'Squash'. An innocuous title, you might think. Wrongly.

An in-joke I'm afraid.
Hint: moustache
Keen followers of Kate in the Countryside (all others please consult glossary here) will know of my enthusiasm for squash. These days, the only other fans of the game are aged gents. They played when Jonah Barrington (squash player) was almost a celebrity and flares were in. Squash back then was a cool game, or so Daddy Mason likes to tell me. But then he does have a moustache. 

Opportunities for squash games down at my local Pimlico gym are numerous. Saturday's Fight Club, where we tough things out on the squash court to make up for the indignities of office work, is one example. But Sarah Loughton's email relates to the squash league. It's a friendly league for those who like to indulge in the odd gentle game.

Ah, Sarah. She doesn't play squash. At least, I've never actually met the girl but I sense it to be true. Ms Loughton is the diligent PA of Bob, one of my opponents in the league. And she takes her duties very seriously indeed.

Dear Kate

Bob would like to set up his game with you for this month. He is free on Monday 4th, Wednesday 6th, Saturday 9th, Tuesdays 12th and 19th but not Tuesdays 5th or 26th. Thursdays are usually not best. Please respond as soon as possible with your availability.


I already spend much of my life replying to emails. And not all of them about squash. Receiving an email like this usually makes me retreat to my room where I can put on Harry Potter tapes very loud and sit in a corner humming madly to myself. But Sarah does not like to be ignored:

Dear Kate,

Bob is no longer available on the Tuesdays as advised, but will be free on the 5th. Sunday 10th and Thursday 14th or Friday 15th….

Bob would like to play his games in the second week of the month this time. Tuesday 17th 3rd or Sunday 30th (not Saturday) may be best. Wednesday….

Please detail your availability at your earliest convenience. Bob's mother has….

It becomes a game. I send back impossible chains of numbers to which Sarah replies with one liners. We get nowhere. I don't even want to play this man. He wears a DT teacher's visor on court and last time we played he ran into me so hard that I was winded. Twice.

Then, last week, she strikes:

Since you never seem to reply we ['we?' What is this? Are we going for two-on-one here? Surely unfair] will be claiming a walkover if you do not get in touch.

Imagine this in email form
I spend the next two days crafting an email of such impenetrable niceness that it can surely lead to no more conflict. I can't take this any more. I have a full time job!

Next day: a forwarded email to accompany Sarah's helpful scribings. She has spoken to the League Master and he has obligingly agreed to remove me from the league. 

A sad day.


  1. Outrageous league behaviour! My latest experience was against a seemingly equally aggressive chap who hit me twice, shouted at me when I asked for a let he didn't agree with and was then shocked when I didn't want to continue playing for the whole of our booking time after the match was completed. What is the world coming to?!

  2. he wasn't called 'Bob' was he?? i have never come across anyone too important to arrange their own squash matches before. perhaps he is secretly james willstrop