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Everything in life is more so than it was. That is the basic premise we must live under in the world today.
Teddy Tinling said that to the Tennis Tyro one day, and the callow fellow listened and wrote it down because he had been advised that Teddy knew more about a number of things than just about anybody. Anyway, he said them better.
Apart from the fact that he has a large, shaved ovoid head, has a diamond in one ear, and wears pastel clothing and chains around his neck, Teddy would look the perfectly proper clubman. Teddy had a nanny, he was a lieutenant colonel in intelligence in the second war, and when he speaks, mellifluously in the tones God had in mind before the English tongue washed up on American shores, he talks most fiercely of grace and respect, those two crumbling pillars of the community of man. Though he resides in Philadelphia (in the same apartment building Pete Rose once called home), is a resident alien, has a dentist in Paris and checked in and out of 50 hotels last year, Teddy is decidedly an Englishman. ("For he might have been a Roosian,/A French or Turk or Proosian,/Or perhaps Itali-an./But in spite of all temptations/To belong to other nations,/He remains an Englishman.") And though he was unceremoniously booted out of Wimbledon 35 years ago for putting a lace fringe around a female bottom—"You have put sin and vulgarity into tennis," said a member of the Wimbledon committee—Teddy is now chef de protocol for the sport, oral historian of the game, guardian of its glory, keeper of its idiosyncrasy.
Teddy was there himself, with Don Budge and Gottfried von Cramm, just before they went out to play the greatest match in history, when Hitler rang up and Von Cramm said "Ja, mein F�hrer" 11 times. Teddy umpired the first match ever played at Roland Garros in Paris, in 1928. Teddy was on the ship when the Japanese player, Jiro Satoh, despondent over leaving his fianc�e to play a Davis Cup tie in Europe, committed suicide by throwing himself overboard. Teddy was called to serve at Wimbledon in 1927, when some of the players felt alienated. Teddy was called to serve at Wimbledon in 1982, when some of the players felt alienated. Teddy was at the scene when Billie Jean King, in one of his dresses, beat Bobby Riggs. Teddy played Big Bill Tilden when Tilden was Wimbledon champion. Twenty-seven years later he played Lew Hoad when Hoad was Wimbledon champion. Teddy was even there in the Wimbledon draw four times, a good enough player to compete at that level, in doubles, anyway. Teddy was there, on the Riviera, in the Roaring Twenties, Suzanne Lenglen's favorite, her designated umpire. Teddy was always there. He believes in reincarnation, but does he need it?
Teddy may have been born in 1910, but he's a teenager. He's Teddy Tinling, but he's also Huckleberry Finn.
The bigger the outside is, the more fun it is to be on the inside looking out.
Teddy said that late one night, and the Tennis Tyro smiled and scribbled it on his notepad.
One thing that bemuses the British—oh, for goodness sakes, let's say it: annoys them—is the American predilection for beginning almost every conversation with a stranger with "What do you do?" So if you aren't familiar with tennis, you're surely saying to yourself, "What does this fellow with the shaved head do?" Well, here are some words the Tennis Tyro wrote down: liaison, communicator, host, catalyst, image, public relations. When Butch Buchholtz, the former touring pro, was recently putting together a two-week tournament for both men and women that will premiere next year, he called on Tinling because, as it turned out, Teddy was somehow connected with six internecine factions that Buchholtz had to satisfy. Teddy is the only person in history to work on the staffs of all four Grand Slam tournaments, as he has been paid to do these past two years.
The Daily Mail of London once said rather bitchily, "How sick can a sport be when it requires a dressmaker to solve its problems?" What Teddy does is make things gentler and more agreeable. "I'm often the court jester, someone to tinkle the bells," he says. Wouldn't you like to have terrific company like Teddy around your place of business? Everybody should have someone around who doesn't necessarily do, but just is, and is excellent at that.
Here is what Teddy told the Tennis Tyro one day as they chatted after Teddy had his daily Valium: "My destiny is to communicate, one person to another. I never forget that a large quantity of people have a very dull life. It's terrifying to consider that when I come back it might be as a Russian, for those people are so terribly dull. I know He's a forgiving God, and I really don't believe I've behaved necessarily bad—or good, for that matter, because I wouldn't know the difference—but He still probably feels I need another aspect next time."