Dom Joly: Why my McEnroe moment called for new balls

Share
Related Topics

Looking back, I'm pretty sure that John McEnroe wasn't entirely comfortable with my conversation. I'd always wanted to meet him – he's one of my childhood heroes. He was the anti-establishment, left-handed, tennis genius that I couldn't take my eyes off whenever he played. My dad would huff and puff about this fiery New Yorker's bad behaviour, but I couldn't get enough of it. Whenever I've been asked that hackneyed old question, "Name your dream guests at a dinner party", McEnroe has always been on my list. He's a man who says what he thinks and always appears to have a great sense of humour. So, here I was, in the opulent surroundings of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel, sitting chatting to him.

I'm on a "jolly" over here taking part in a sort of celebrity mini Winter Olympics, and the hotel is positively heaving with famous faces. There goes Chevy Chase. Oh look, the Baldwin brothers! I'm sharing a lift with Peter Fonda. Is that Buzz Aldrin? It's all reasonably exciting but nothing compares to meeting Mac the Mouth. I've got so much to say I go dry and end up talking about... my dog's recent castration.

The day before I set out, I got home to see a nervous Huxley pacing about and whimpering to me, as though indicating that Skippy the Bush Kangaroo was stuck down some well and I needed to go get help. He led me into the kitchen, where a forlorn-looking Oscar was lying gingerly on a big cushion. Our eyes met and I just knew.... I'd seen those same sad, hollow eyes two years ago when Huxley himself got the snip. Once again Stacey had acted fast and decisively while my back was turned, and now Jackson and I were the only men left in the house.

"Not for long..." whispered Huxley. "I heard her call the doctor about you two days ago," said Oscar in a slightly high-pitched voice. "She's planning to get them to do you when you go in for your annual medical. They're going to put you out and then... snip."

Try as I might I just couldn't get this scene out of my mind, and so inevitably ended up talking to John McEnroe about it. At first he laughed a little as I told him about how guilty I felt letting this happen. Then I moved on to sharing my thoughts about Stacey's future plans for my genitals and he shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

Finally, I really put him off his Alaskan salmon when I started getting annoyed at the fact that Stacey hadn't accepted the vet's offer of Oscar's balls in a jar. Somehow it just felt wrong that they'd been disposed of like leftovers. I could have had them put in a display case or simply kept them somewhere. At least there would have been a semblance of dignity in that.

John McEnroe didn't think so. He'd put down his knife and fork and was staring at me with that glare I'd seen used on a hundred line judges. For one glorious moment I thought that he was going to use the "You cannot be serious" line on me. I tensed expectantly but it never came. "Will you shut the fuck up about your dog's testicles?"

The greatest tennis player that ever lived had cracked. I apologised and got up to go to the "washroom", where I thought long and hard about how I'd screwed up my potential friendship with Mac. I looked to my left – there was Bruce Jenner the US Olympic gold medallist decathlete and another great hero of my youth. I stared at him, perhaps for slightly too long. He looked at me quizzically before zipping up and moving away shaking his head. It takes balls, meeting your heroes.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Mr. Cameron is beginning to earn small victories in Europe

Andrew Grice
Pakistani volunteers carry a student injured in the shootout at a school under attack by Taliban gunmen, at a local hospital in Peshawar  

The Only Way is Ethics: The paper’s readers and users of our website want different things

Will Gore
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick