It had been a long golf-less week. But a week where the adage ‘revenge is a dish best eaten cold’ had proved fruitful. The Swindle agreed. I met them for coffee at the club.
“We have all missed you” said Sid.
“Speak for yourself” said Big Rich, slurping his latte with extra sugar.
“Do you know when you can play?” asked Gus.
I told them about the heartless White Coats.
“A bit longer before I am back on those fairways”.
Then I told them about the oven gloves.
“That’s awful” said Big Rich.
Gus gave me a hug.
“Bet you are practising in secret” said Ruggy.
I stirred the herbal tea. The tea bag was near its sell by date and the infusion of cranberry and mango had not taken place.
“I wish I had been chipping on the carpet. No such luck. Total lock down. Can’t even get the garage door open, to check the swing in the mirror.”
“Fancy a bet on the rugby game?” said Michael. “I reckon you will lose in Cardiff against Wales”.
“They will definitely beat us in the singing stakes” I said. And we shook hands.
The Swindle finished their lattes, changed into their golf gear and headed out to the first tee.
“Going to see us off?” said Gus.
“I’ll see you off the first” I said and knew it would make me sad.
I knew their swings and the banter. I knew their world but the door on it had closed. I walked shopping malls not fairways.
Reading and films had become the flavour of my days. I had progressed from Harvey Penick to thrillers and biographies. The Lonely Penguin Tours and global gastronomy. Lived in a world of pages, paragraphs and print. One book ran into another. Characters became friends, then left my life. Forever.
I went to the cinema. Watched thrillers, chick flicks and films for kids. I was on first term names with the staff in the booking office and ate popcorn three times a week.
I had control of the remote during the hours of daylight. I knew all about property prices, renovations and sales. Location. Location. Location. I knew how to prepare a meal in thirty minutes and all the essential ingredients for the store cupboard. I knew how to look younger, fitter, meaner. Leaner. I watched the local news, national news and the world news. I was on first term names with the weather girls. And boys.
But there was part of my soul which did not belong to books, films and day time television. The part which hankered after the Big Outdoors. The margins of the sky and the wind blowing through the pines. The crunch of the leaves and smell of mown grass. The sight of timid deer in the woods, the sounds of a wood pecker, hammering in an old tree.
I missed the feel of a new golf glove and placing the ball on the tee. The sound of it striking the club face, watching it bounce on the fairway. Or clatter against a tree and disappear into the rough. A well executed chip shot, the flight from a bunker shot, the ball falling into the cup.
I missed watching Big Rich do his little gig, when a long putt dropped, or his grimace when it edged the hole.
I missed Sid saying;
“Great shot babe” or Gus middling his three wood. I missed Ruggy’s shoulder shrug when she sliced a drive or duffed a pitch shot. I missed the Sheriff getting his birdie and pulling the match back to all square going down the eighteenth. Or doffing a chip shot.
And I missed getting one over the Golf Police and his trusty lieutenants. The club smuggling and vague alibis. The late- for- supper- suppers and the empty fridge.
I was bored.
Ruggy was wrong. There had been no practice session but it was time to take revenge. For the oven gloves. As the swindle headed towards the second tee, I took a right out of the car park and soon found the motorway.
In the evening, the supper table was laid and the lasagne was browning in the oven. The kitchen smelt of garlic and onion and there were fresh tulips in the vase. Yellow. The colour of corn and custard. There was a fresh baked apple and blackberry pie on the work top and a bowl of mixed salad leaves. The dressing was in a little jug . Olive oil, white wine vinegar, sugar and mustard. The glasses shone in the candlelight and the ice still had not melted in the jug of chilled water.
By the time the Golf Police had arrived home, the lasagne was brown and the cheese had melted on top.
“This looks good” he said.
“Just going to get changed”.
“See what you can do when you’re not playing golf all day” said Daughter No. One.
Queen were singing on the radio. ‘I want to break free’.
The lasagne was good and the garlic fumes drifted over the yellow petals of the tuilips. The ice had melted and the salad leaves were crunchy, dressed in their olive oil and white wine vinegar. There was no carbon. No chaos. No clutter. Even the napkins were crisp.
“Good day?” asked the Golf Police.
I thought about my day. My herbal tea with the swindle and the banter around the table. The talk of the golf trip in the Spring to the West Country. All the different courses to be played.
I thought about them heading off to the fairways and their golfing destiny. I thought about missing their swings. Their smiles. Their banter.
And then I thought about leaving the car park and turning right to the motorway. I thought about the oven gloves. The ones wrapped in gold Christmas paper in the stocking. And I thought about the new club in the bag. Leading edge technology. By the book case. Waiting. Waiting for a return to the fairways.
And far away I thought of two quiet Englishmen who headed to Wales to pay homage to the oval ball. I thought of the phone call during the week. Tactics. Front rows and swerving wingers. Injuries and Memories.
“It would be some memory sis, if we beat them at the Millennium stadium”.
“Safe journey” I whispered to the moon. “And safe home, Bruv.”