It was time to go back. Back where I belonged. Back to the fairways.
The house was quiet. I left before the juicer had seen any action. Before the eight minute shower and post mortem about the missing hot water. Before the traffic built up and became rivers of red lights and impatient drivers. Before the sun had risen in the east and been caught by the silhouette of winter’s trees.
I left a note on the kitchen table.
It is time to say farewell to the remote, the reading and the chores. Time to smell the grass and see the sun rise. Time to watch the early morning mist lift from the cold dark fields. Time to see the frosted brambles which arch like cathedral roofs, coated in a sparkle of frost. Time to find the fairways, my swing, my Swindle friends.
Don’t forget to put the bins out for recycling. Can someone hang up the washing and leave the kitchen tidy.
This is me leaving home (Just like Eleanor Rigby……)
The Boss xx
It was quiet at the golf club. I chose the second best parking space. Next to the President and the Captain’s hallowed spaces. The clubhouse was empty, save for the cleaner with her duster and sparkly earrings. A different pair for different days. Purple some days, Red another. Always green when the Irish were playing any sport with any shaped ball.
“My boys” she would say, “My boys”. And she would give the mirror an extra rub and think of home.
The practice ground was empty and in the distance the green keepers were busy with bunkers, tees and greens. Birds were finished with their dawn chorus and the sun was rising along the distant fairway of the second green.
I found my favourite place on the practice ground. A tree lined fairway, with small left to right sloping green, protected by a small bunker on the left. Once the old eighteenth hole, I walked down towards the disused tee and tried to imagine it being the finishing hole before the clubhouse had burnt down. I wondered what Abercrombie thought about the change to his masterpiece. Was it like changing the last bars of Tchaikovsky’s Eighteen Twelve? Like changing a few brush strokes of one of Canaletto’s Venetian scenes?
In my pocket was a scrunched piece of paper. Scribbled notes about the take away. I read them and committed them to memory. It looked so easy. On paper. I worked slowly through the clubs. Trying to erase the faults from the hard drive and groove the new take away. The clock ticked, the traffic built and somewhere in the woods, two timid deer hid amongst the trees.
Daughter No. One would be stepping into the shower for her eight minute morning ritual and the Golf Police would be hunting for his porridge bowl.
The Swindle caught the tail end of the traffic and had time for a quick slug of caffeine before the ball drop.
The Golf Police had a cold shower and Daughter No. One missed her train. The kitchen decks were not cleared and the porridge bowl was still in the sink.
After the ball drop, we walked the fairways, scored holes and blobbed holes. We shared out the winnings, booked another tee time and returned to our loved ones.
Two PS’s had been added to the family note. One in pink pen. The other a scribbled illegible hand.
PS So why not just say you are playing golf instead of writing about brambles? Any chance you can collect my dry cleaning x
PPS. If you have time, I need some new blades and will be away tomorrow night x
In the evening, supper was burnt and late. Normal service had been resumed.
“See we are back to nourishing carbon again”.
“So tell me what this dish is called again?” It tasted better than it looked.
“Did you get my blades and was it good to play golf again?”
I thought about my reply. I thought about leaving early and getting to the course before the deer had hidden for the day and the sun had risen in the east. I thought about the mist which had caught in the brambles and the cold, bare ploughed fields.
I thought about the scribbled notes and the take away. Feeling the ball leave the club face and landing on the fairway of the old eighteenth hole. I thought about the ball drop and playing with the Sheriff and Sid. I remembered the Sheriff whispering about a match and saying it was not fair when it was my first game back.
“Maybe it would be good just to find your swing and feel around the greens?”
“Game on” I said. “Game on”.
The drives were long and straight and the driver earned a place in the bag. The chip shots were crisp and landed near the pin.
“Sure you haven’t been out for two months practicing?” said the Sheriff. The greens and putter were my Achilles Heel.
The putts were poor. Hesitant and uncertain. But I hung onto the coat tails and monster drives of the Sheriff. His putting was poor. We were level after nine.
“Well played, Babe” said Sid. It was good to be back on the fairways. To be the Babe of Sid.
I missed a putt on the sixteenth and was three points down to the Sheriff.
There was a moment. A moment of knowing all was lost. Of knowing there would be no titanic battle up the eighteenth. The eighteenth of Abercrombie. Or someone unknown hand. But hard upon the heels of feeling lost there was another feeling. A feeling of not throwing in the towel. Of it not being over until the fat lady sang. The fridge magnet which said NEVER EVER EVER GIVE UP.
I regrouped walking to the seventeenth tee. A par three over a heather strewn gorge. A small green protected by bunkers. One ninety five off the whites. There was no wind. It would play its yardage. The pin was back left. Near the bunker.
I went for the pin. It sailed across the gorge, landed and finished past the pin. Game on. The Sheriff found the heather. I missed the birdie but got the par. The Sheriff blobbed the hole. Two points retrieved.
One point down going down the eighteen. Not the eighteenth of Abercrombie but the new one. Both on in regulation. I sunk the putt and levelled the match.
The Sheriff mentioned a swing change. Not the take away but a flat swing. It was a work in progress. I re checked the notes on the scribbled piece of paper. Swing plane. It was all there. Just not on the fairways.
I thought about the thirty points, halving with the Sheriff and taking joint first with the swindle.
“Means you will be cut” said Big Rich. “Back to twelve”. But I didn’t mind. It was good to be back. Back where I belonged.
“Well played Babe. Well played” said Sid.
I gave the Golf Police his answer.
“No and yes.”