Hell-raisers decide they want to go to heaven

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The Independent Online

Where do tennis stars belong ... socially? In Datchet or Cobham I'd say – and their upstate New York equivalents and everywhere that looks like that across the world. They'll fit in nicely in any haute suburb with manicured lawns.

Where do tennis stars belong ... socially? In Datchet or Cobham I'd say – and their upstate New York equivalents and everywhere that looks like that across the world. They'll fit in nicely in any haute suburb with manicured lawns.

Tennis stars are terminally dull, especially when they fit themselves up with a personality. And tennis wives are like 1970s rock star wives. When you get to a certain level in tennis, they must simply send you one as part of the contract. But – or is it just me losing my usual forensic grip – isn't the veteran's circuit quite fun in a mild way – Henri Leconte and Jimmy Connors. Isn't Ilie Nastase a bit interesting? Not just Iron Curtain with long hair. Perhaps I'm confusing him with Roman Polanski. In my mind's eye Nastase was part of the Drones secondary bankers' fun set of the early 1970s. I could be wrong. Very possibly he's not interesting at all. I'm sorry I started this now.

Saga want Nastase for a sunbeam, as an example of how we all get fat and well-behaved and a decent insurance risk after 50.

"I used to be a bad boy," he says to camera, looking plump. "I used to argue about every decision." (So he's just like the others then – no five-times-a-night, no out of his head on Charlie, no Jack Daniels at 10am.)

Then, just to make sure you get it – it's Ilie Nastase, old tennis star and hell-raiser, Vera – there's some footage of his young, thin self on the court, arguing. "Everyone calms down as they get older." He explains how drivers under 50 claim more often on their car insurance and how because Saga only covers the over 50s, that could mean lower insurance costs. Could?

Nastase's driving a big Merc' Saloon – sober black – through lush Home Counties country roads (Windsor? Beaconsfield?). Then he stops in front of a posh stone arch; you just know it's going to be one of those country house hotels the tennis classes like so much.

Saga's version of the old American Express line is "experience has its rewards". It certainly does – you can drift round Berks and Bucks Club Class for the rest of your life.

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