Why would anyone say a Hail Mary as a precursor to having a pee, prefer the USAF P51 Mustang fighter to the P47 and be able to extol its virtues in great detail? Or why would they cry after receiving a text from Judy Murray, and provide his female French bulldog Roger with an identity crisis when naming her after Switzerland’s finest tennis player?
The answer to these questions and many more are contained a series of beautifully written essays by former Tennis Ireland chief executive Des Allen, who chronicles his battle with cancer, parsed through events in his life, from the tears of diagnosis and the grim battle to try to overcome a physically devastating illness, to his recovery and the clarity it introduced into his life. There is even a Rolling Stones story in there.
While there may have been some catharsis in collating his thoughts into a collection of essays, a more practical remit is to raise funds for the Irish Cancer Society. The result is an absolute gem of a book, both in the writing and content. He's also a thoroughly decent person although his backhand bore an ugliness that defied technical description.
Wandering and Ponderings by Des Allen is on sale in Malahide Tennis Club or can be ordered from firstname.lastname@example.org and is priced at €20. The entire proceeds go to the Irish Cancer Society.