It happened after a game of golf. Quiet words in the car park.
“It can be fixed. I have been there.” We exchanged hugs. He made a call. It was brief.
“Help me” he said.
I had returned to golf after a meeting with the medics and white coats. Their skills had resolved the problem. The fairways were calling.
The household of the Golf Police accepted the return of the dimpled ball addiction. The clubs no longer propped up against the book case. The car not always on the drive. Food not always on the table and the ironing pile high.
“Think I preferred it when you didn’t play golf” said Daughter No. One.
The thespian packed up her brightly coloured bangles, bedding and books, and returned to the land of the Bard. The juicer was packed and left the scene of beetroot, ginger and apples. Celery and spinach and the multi coloured compost heap. It left a gap in the kitchen, by the toaster and a silence.
The car was loaded and left before the blackbirds had time to sing their first note. We checked into the hotel with the six pillowed beds and luxurious fluffy towels. The red headed receptionish smiled her mega watt smile and gave us an upgrade. At night we ate in low ceiled rooms, with beams as old as the Bard. Uneven floors and leaded window panes. Roast beef, thick gravy and Yorkshires. Home made apple pie and ice cream.
“Just like home cooking”. No one filled in the spaces between the oak beams and the beef.
The thespian unpacked the bangles, bedding and books, as outside white swans glided along the wintry river with the wind ruffling their feathers. The canal boats rode on their moorings, brightly coloured kayaks overtook the ducks and the willows were bare.
I sent a text.
Will not be back for golf tomorrow x
We spread out on the six pillowed bed with the thespian, read the papers, fiddled with the remote. Nibbled nuts and crunched crisps.
We visited the new theatre, lit a candle in the church where silent Will lay beneath the glass window. We packed up and checked out. The Red Head said farewell. A parting is such sweet sorrow farewell.
“I am leaving” she said. And we knew things would never be the same again. The hotel by the river and the swans, with its beds of dreams and fine dining. Its black and white photos of thespians and riverside terrace. The little knot gardens and gastronomic feasts. But no smile and soft words from the Red Head on Reception.
We wished her well and she walked away from the river, the swans and our lives.
And another farewell, to the thespian.
“Back in time for Hamlet and Romeo in the Spring” I whispered and slipped a letter of love between the bangles and beads. We drove home in the rain. And the radio filled in the silence left by the thespian.
Two days later, the swindle met and decided to play a different format. Instead of the usual individual stableford, it was agreed to play in teams of four. Best two scores to count.
“Split the handicaps. Double the stakes. Third is nearest the pin” said Big Rich.
The course was quiet. The buggies had been grounded due to the rain and there was time for an extra coffee before the tee time.
“Going to hit some balls” said The Sheriff.
“And me” said Gus. Big Rich finished his coffee and cake. Pancake and Sid talked about cars. Horse power. Full injection and consumption. Ruggy went to sort out her hair and her waterproofs.
“Hope I don’t let you down” said Sid on the first tee.
He sunk his putt for two points.
“Game on, Sid, Game on”.
The green keepers were still busy trying to clear the course of leaves. Heather hid beneath the tannin oak stained leaves of autumn. The greens were receptive and the sun shone between the bare trunks.
“We need to get six points a hole” said Big Rich. “I am not losing to that motley crew”.
We got five points and walked off the sixth hole. And no one noticed Sid. Sid who quietly stood on the tee and found the middle of the fairway. Sid, who chipped onto the green and found the pin. Sid who slotted his putts.
“Reckon we are a few points adrift at the turn” said Big Rich. “Let’s get some good scores on the back nine”.
The team began to perform and the points mounted up.
“We need a strong finish” said Pancake on the seventeenth and Sid took a deep breath. He took two practice swings, another deep breath and put his ball on the green. Sunk the putt. Three points.
On the eighteenth he took another deep breath and found the middle of the fairway. Par. Three points.
“I didn’t let you down” he said. “I didn’t let you down”.
Rich worked out the scores over tea and cakes.
“Looks like your team came last” he said to Ruggy.
The money was shared out and a tee time book for the following week.
And this time the man in the car park smiled as he put his clubs away. The man who had left with slumped shoulders and a heavy heart. The man who made the call and asked for help. The man who had a plan. The man who booked a weekly lesson and didn’t spend his day slicing off the tee and hunting through the woods. The man who found his swing and knew how to chip to the pin. The man who had been part of the team. Sid. A man with a Pro, a plan and bad knees. Sid, who got thirty seven points. Sid was the man and had his day in the sun.