When the decision was made, no one knew about the volcanic dust. No one had crystal ball. No one read the tea leaves. Iceland was certainly a country which punched above its weight. With economies and volcanoes. The land of ice and fire grounded planes and ruined best laid plans. The Swindle got lucky. Thanks to Sid. A raw egg and the exchange rate for the euro.
“So where shall we go on tour this year?” said Big Rich tucking into his double bacon butty.
The question was batted around the table.
“How about France again?” said Bill, tempted by the jugs of vin rouge and the frites. “We had a good time last year.”
“No way” whispered Sid. “Not after they gave me that raw egg”.
The question went round the table again and after much deliberation and the poor exchange rate with the euro, it was decided not to cross the Channel or leave a carbon foot print in the skies.
“Dorset” said The Sheriff. “Great courses and good food. No ferries or planes”.
It was put to the vote and carried. Democracy at work. Dorset got the most votes. Therefore Dorset won. No back room wrangling or dodgy deals.
“Leave it to me” said the Sheriff “ Ruggy can be my No. Two”.
There only remained the task of slipping it into the conversation over supper with the Golf Police. It required delicate handling and a suitcase of gold stars.
The cupboards were stocked and suppers appeared as if by magic. Shirts were ironed and odd socks matched until an opportunity arose. Over the bangers and mash.
“Apple crumble and ice cream?”
“A pudding?” said the Golf Police. He knew there is no such thing as a free lunch. Or pudding. I put an extra scoop of ice cream on the plate and broke the news.
“Sounds ok” he said coming back for seconds. I left out some of the details. How many nights and how many rounds of golf. And the cost. I put an extra ice cream scoop on the plate and turned the kettle on.
The plans were laid and the courses booked. Green fees fell across the whole spectrum of price range. Hotel bookings were problematical. The date clashed with a Police Conference and all beds were booked.
“Should be banging up criminals” said Sid “Instead of having a party at the seaside”
“Hope they aren’t golfers” said Gus writing a note to check his car tax.
“Just watch those speed cameras, Rich” said Ruggy.
Rich smiled and the Sheriff remained silent.
A hotel was found. Convenient. Shabby chic. The only one in town not booked by the Boys in Blue. Big Rich knew the area well. And the hotel.
“Surprised it hasn’t been knocked down” he said.
“Just somewhere to lay our head between rounds” said Ruggy.
The long range weather forecast was checked and it became a numbers game. Four balls. Three balls. Two balls. Sid could not make the dates and Biggles was flying in from Gibraltar. Ruggy found a date clash in the diary and needed to arrive a day late.
“But we booked it round you” said The Busman
“I’ve got choir” she said. “Chance of recording contract”.
“Can’t believe you can put singing before golf” said Big Rich. The canary would not budge. Fame and contract beckoned and the lifts were re-arranged.
“Trust my driving” said the Sheriff. “I am blue light trained. Triple nine response. Red light runner”.
I left out that bit for the Golf Police. On a ‘need to know basis’, he need not know. And the Sheriff did not need to know about the pillow, the hair straighteners and the shoes.
The Busman could only make part of the trip and Bill had to leave early. Pancake ‘ummed’ and ‘aahhed’ and was put down as a no show-no go. Divot was heading off to Spain with clubs and lads for golf between hangovers.
“Sure you won’t come?” Gus asked Sid. “There’s no foie gras or raw eggs in Dorset. You won’t miss the footie and you can drive on the left”
Sid declined the offer. We agreed to send Sid post cards.
“It will work” said the Sheriff regigging the three and fourballs.
Shoes were cleaned and the fridge stocked with emergency rations.
When the household was asleep, last year’s golf gear came out of storage. Trousers which had not seen a putt or felt weight transference on the tee since before the snow. The detox and diet had not gone according to plan. Too many temptations. Too many fries and too many fridge raids. The trousers knew the score. I fought the zip, checked them out in the mirror and sent a text.
A multimedia message. Subject – Does my bum look big in this?
Have you got anything else x Ruggy
There also remained the problem of the swing. No one wants to take a bad swing on tour. The Sheriff had discovered a fault off the tee. Shots did not always find the fairways. Gus dicovered a slice and the unforgiving territory either side of the fairway. Oaks. Birch. Firs. He needed a time to work on the fault. A slot in the unforgiving hour of the day. He waited until the supper plates had been cleared and it was half time in the footie before he broached the subject.
“Going to go in to work early tonight” he said “traffic might be bad”.
The traffic was light and he went to work via the driving range. All week the traffic was bad.
The Busman walked the fairways like a haunted man. A man whose glass was half empty with a crack in it. A condemned man who inhabited the no man’s land of golf. Shank. OB. Slice.
“So disappointing” he said, after another shot headed towards the road. Or the rhododendrons. Or the woods. His game had fallen from the peak to the trough. It was not a good place to be and nor was handing over the money to Ruggy and the Sheriff after a drubbing.
“It’s only a loan” I said handing my stake over. Front nine. Back nine and overall.
“Pleasure doing business with you” said the Sheriff whose short game negated the poor drives.
Ruggy practised her scales and googled ‘how to speak to record producers’. Gus snuck away for more practice sessions and Big Rich bought some new shoes. The Sheriff spent his lunch hours in the net and on the putting green. The Busman brooded and Bill googled ‘west country ales’. Volcanic ash swirled above the clouds and Divot checked the website for arrivals and departures to Spain.
Back room deals and power struggles were done away from the cameras in Whitehall as the lines became blurred between winners and losers.
The bread and pasta were binned. A note was pinned to the fridge.
LESS FOOD – MORE EXERCISE EQUALS LESS TOLERANCE ON TROUSER SEAMS
Out came the juicer and three day detox and the scales.
A note was pinned to the memory board.
Pack phone charger and pillow/ hair straighteners/camera/ sun block/ books/waterproofs/fluffy towels/ shoes/fleeces/tee shirts/baseball caps. And underneath:
BUY POSTCARDS FOR SID
The Golf Police continued to eat supper and always made room for the extra pudding.