Bill Rees has been living in the south of France for ten years working as an itinerant bookseller in Montpellier. The one thing he misses about England is table tennis. Then he sees an advert to join a club for “experienced players only” and veterans. He starts training immediately, he’s forty and not as fit as he used to be but Bill Rees is returning to the game à la carte.
Covering one Sunday tournament in the depths of Languedoc when his team bids to make the National Finals, Bill Rees produces a deeply felt and deeply funny homage to the beautiful game of ping-pong. Rees shows the sport for what it is: painful, exhilarating, tactical, fast (especially when his club mate Alain is at the table), consuming. All of which is revealed from the perspective of a Brit playing in French amateur leagues. Conveyed is the pain of competition, the agony of losing and the joys of victory. The reader is also regaled with a Zen-like insight into the sport.
For all those athletes who dream of glory being around the corner and never too late.
Contains illustrations by the Monpellier based artist Beachy.
Bill Rees lives in Le Vigan (Sud de France), and makes a precarious living by selling used books. He studied at UCNW (Bangor) and Birkbeck College. He worked as a reporter for a local newspaper in London before the lure of travel and bookselling led him to take a less conventional path. His memoir, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Book Runner was published by Parthian in 2011. In recent years Rees has rediscovered the joys and frustrations of competitive table tennis. An embarrassingly large amount of Rees’s time and energies have been devoted to perfecting his backhand top spin. A Late Return goes some way to explaining why.