French cafes and Pebble Beach

woody2As soon as the Golf Police asked the question, I knew there was a problem.

“So need any new clubs in your bag?” he asked.

It was twenty six hours before my birthday.  This meant there was no gift hidden in the wardrobe, waiting for the day.  The day which had been known about for three hundred and sixty four days.  I decided not to make things easy.

“I don’t think so” I said.  Sometimes you should not ask the question if you do not want the answer.

He was not the only one asking.  The text came through six hours later.

“Any ideas for your birthday? xx  I stuck to the script.

No xx

The twenty hours passed. There was no blue dawn or soft summer day. Or big present.  The rain fell hard and the cars went by with their lights and wipers.   It was’ just another day’.

“Maybe you could choose yourself a dress or something” said the Golf Police, handing over a cup of tea with a card.  The ink was not dry and it smudged on the envelope.

“I was going to get the dress” said Daughter No. One.

“I’ll get it in my in my lunch hour”.

“Have you got anything planned for today?” said the Golf Police.

I looked out to the iron grey sky and the wet pavements.  The roses which caught the raindrops and the rivulets of water running down the leaded window panes. The fairways did not beckon, neither did the practice ground.

“ Why don’t you have the day off. We could always go to the seaside. Take out a kayak. Eat fish and chips laced with vinegar and sprinkled with salt.  Sit on a pebble beach and watch the waves.    Have a cream tea on the way home. Scones with blackberry jam and a  teapot for two”.

Or we could go to Venice for the day.  Ride down the Grand Canal in a gondola and take a drink in the shadows.  Find a quiet piazza and eat pasta or a calzone filled with mozzarella and tomato.  Light a candle in a church and leave a prayer.  Catch a traghetto with the Venetians and their shopping bags. Watch a sunset from the Rialto or see the moonlight in St. Mark’s Square.  Listen for footsteps on the  Bridge of Sighs.

“Sorry” he said. “Meetings all day”.

I gave it another shot.

“Cancel the meetings.  Go sick.  Let’s jump on a ferry and go over to France. Find a cafe and eat a bowl of moules with garlic and frites, washed down with cold beer. Visit a museum.  Find the bronze of the soldier on horsback riding through a storm.  Sit on the edge of fountain and make a wish.”

Won’t pay the mortgage” said the Golf Police.

“Let’s pretend we dont have a mortgage to pay and steal the day.  Just one day”.  My pitch failed.  Dreams clashed with reality. And bills.

“Tempted. But no can do” he said and became part of the traffic. Part of the meetings.  Not part of the dreams. It was just another day.

Bon Jovi was on the radio singing ‘Have a nice day’.  But the day didn’t shine and there was no dice to roll. Meetings. Traffic and raindrops.

I read the texts, opened the cards and  waited for the post. Between raindrops, I dreamed of a different  Pebble Beach and playing with Phil Mickelson.  Birding the seventh and the fourteenth and keeping the same ball for the whole round.  Big Rich had played Pebble.  He had walked off the seventh with a birdie.

“Can’t see why the Pros have a problem with that hole” he said.

The Postie rang twice and delivered some more cards and a parcel with its stickers and halogen smiles.

A parcel from the land of Shakespeare, theatre and thespians.   A present bought, wrapped and sent between relentless rehearsals, wigs and costume fittings.  Technical run throughs,skipped lunches and late suppers.  Beetroot, apple and broccoli juices, voice and movement sessions.

And a snatched moment to queue in the post office.  Each gift  wrapped in blue and stuck with yellow tape borrowed from the techies.  Each with its own special memory and a card with words crafted from a thespian heart.

I put the cards on the mantelpiece, loaded the washing machine and checked the emails. And that is when I made the decision.  Carpe Diem. I would sieze the day.  I took the car out and headed towards the motorway.

I broke all the rules and left paper trails. The Golf Police rang between meetings.

“How is your day?”

“Just fine” I said. “Just fine”.

I had lunch with friend and between lunch and supper it was fine.

Supper was delicious and the dress fitted.  Nearly.

“Could get the next size up” said Daughter No. One.

“I was going to get the dress” said the Golf Police.

“No problems” I said.

I thought about the day.  The day we could have spent by the sea eating fish and chips and the smell of vinegar.  The kayak and the pebble beach.

I thought about eating mussels in France and the chic women with their poodles and the street side cafes. Using my school girl French to ask the waiter if he ‘parlez vous’d anglais’ and ‘where was the pen of his aunt’.

I could have ridden the gondola up the Grand Canal and asked ‘che ore sona’.  The Gondalier would have told me the time and sung Nessum Dorma, as we passed under stone bridges from shadows to sunlight.  I might have bought a dress without having to ask ‘Ha la taglia piu grande? (Do you have it in a larger size?).  We could have paused and had a drink in the shadows.

I thought about the raindrops and lunch. The parcel from the thespian, supper and the dress bought in the lunch hour.  Blue to match my eyes. And it had not been just another day.  They had made it my day.

“Sorry I couldn’t get the day off” said the Golf Police. “Chose yourself something and stick it on the credit card”.

But he was too late. Between lunch and supper the purchases had been made.

I thought about the precision milled face putter with the offset shaft. The putter I tried to win in the Golf Magazine.  The putter which appeared on every letter to Santa, but never made it to the stocking. The putter used by Rickie Fowler and Rory Mcllroy.  Davis Love the Third and Adam Scott. I thought about how the ball came off the clubface and knew it was a putter which could not miss. Dare not miss. Would not miss. A putter which won Opens. A putter of dreams. And birthdays.  And I knew it was upstairs. Hidden in the wardrobe. Next to the new driver.  The 10.5 degree driver with the regular shaft.  The one which promised more yardage. More control and more distance. And they sat tucked in with the golf gear, waiting their moment and waiting their time.

“More dessert” said Daughter No. One and I broke all the rules and tucked into seconds, washed down with chilled wine.

And when I slept I heard the phone ring.

“Hey, its Phil Mickelson here.  Fancy a game at Pebble and you can borrow Bones to caddy?”