'All I knew about Moldova were the names of eleven men printed on the inside back pages of my newspaper. None of them sounded to me like they were any good at tennis ...'
An eccentric wager finds Tony Hawks, a man who loves an unusual challenge, bound for the little-known Eastern European state of Moldova. His mission: to track down members of the country's football team and persuade them to play him at tennis. The bizarre quest ultimately has little to do with tennis or football, but instead turns into an extraordinary journey involving the Moldovan underworld, gypsies, chronic power shortages, near kidnap, and a surprisingly tender relationship with his host family.
Follow the fortunes of Tony in this hilarious and often moving adventure as it takes him from Moldova, onwards to Northern Ireland, leading to an exciting denouement in Nazareth - and the naked truth of the bet's final outcome ...
The follow-up to British comedian Hawks's Round Ireland with a Fridge (a chronicle of his efforts to make good on a liquor-sodden wager to hitchhike Ireland with a refrigerator in tow) employs a similarly ridiculous premise. While watching a football game between Moldova and England, Hawks, an ex-junior-tennis-champion, and his friend argue the importance of technique in sportsmanship. The conversation culminates in a ridiculous bet; Hawks must beat the Moldovan football team at tennis, or else strip naked in a London street and sing the Moldovan anthem. What follows is an oddball travelogue spanning Moldova, Northern Ireland and Israel as Hawks tracks down and plays each team member. Hawks, who admits to knowing nothing about Moldova, offers few insights about the country; his socioeconomic and cultural observations lean toward the superficial. However, Hawks offers plenty of easy laughs (mostly at his own expense) as he brazenly and good-naturedly takes on local bureaucrats, would-be capitalists and seemingly insurmountable language barriers in pursuit of an admittedly pointless goal. "Things can be done," Hawks notes as he gears up for the journey. "The people in life who get them done are the ones who know that, and the ones who don't are the rest." Noting his reliance on the kindness of others, Hawks engages in a social experiment, demonstrating the willingness of strangers to help another achieve even the most whimsical of goals.
Fun and positive
A fun light read that had me laughing out loud, an adventure that ends with great human qualities, worth giving up some time to page turn