What a terrible week for table tennis. For the past couple of summers, tables have proliferated in parks across the country; hipster nightclubs have been holding ping pong nights instead of karaoke ones; men have been meeting for weekly late-night games, where once they would have played poker.
But then Barack Obama went and gave the visiting Prime Minister a customised Dunlop tennis table. Now, nobody in Britain will be able to strike a ball without imagining Dave and George knocking up in the games room at Chequers.
Within 24 hours of this unfortunate occurrence, the now-famous former Goldman Sachs employee Greg Smith bragged in his resignation letter of having won a bronze medal in the sport at Israel's Maccabiah Games, also known as "the Jewish Olympics". This, he wrote – in the resignation letter that, with a colossal vanity surely worthy of his ex-profession, he published in the New York Times – was one of his "proudest moments in life". Ping pong: sport of Conservative politicians and investment bankers. Shall we all just agree to take up jai alai instead?
On a side note, a friend of mine once competed in the baseball competition at the Maccabiah Games. After reading Smith's letter, I recalled said friend explaining that certain US states would send what he alleged were "ringers" to the contest: skilled sportsmen of suspicious lineage. I emailed him this week to ask if I'd recalled his anecdote correctly. I had, he replied: "It was Team California. They beat us in the Gold medal game. At shortstop, the least Jewish person you've ever seen – one 'Felipe Tettleboin'."
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