I’ve been suffering from stress this week, first-world stress admittedly but stress nonetheless. My home insurance is up for renewal and I’m not happy with the supposedly sainted John Lewis, my current insurers, Which? recommended no less – if I’ve understood all the small print correctly, which is far from guaranteed.
The flooring in the lounge, the supposedly sainted Karndean, is rippling like the ocean wave, making me feel like Captain Pugwash and visitors who aren’t great sailors decidedly queasy. Even copious amounts of ginger tea – good for settling landlubber tummies – haven’t helped. There’s no getting away from it: the floor will have to come up and that means clearing out all my stuff, a prospect to make the strongest heart quail. My insurers? Not interested. Badly done; not their problem……Oh. What’s the point of having them then? Aren’t they there to help in times of need?…….
What’s more, according to the local broker I spoke to – face to face, hooray – if I’ve had a claim turned down, which I have, that puts me in bad odour (I paraphrase) with potential future insurers. Oops. Discussing the options with the broker made my head spin and when he asked me – an ageing old doll admittedly but one who’d told him that she owned a laptop, an iPad and, heaven help us, a smart phone – if I did email, that did it. I took several deep breaths, I tried to remain calm, I eventually replied civilly in the affirmative – and then I snapped. And took him to task. He looked baffled. He had no idea what he’d done, why I was taking umbrage. He’s probably still baffled. But if he isn’t, he’ll be a better broker.
Then, the next day, I heard the sad news that Bev Lewis had died, at the age of 71 and my insurance woes were put in their proper place, off the stress list altogether. Bev, in her quiet, unassuming way, was a pioneer who represented all that’s good about golf, an Essex girl who gave the county a good name, not remotely showy or bombastic but staunch and steadfast, kind and patient, reliable and thoughtful, funny and passionate. She was the girl who started on the local pitch and putt course and became the first woman to be captain of the PGA, familiar with places like Augusta National. She bought her first driver from a junk shop; played her first round of golf in open-toed sandals; won the Essex Championship at her first attempt; turned professional as a founder member of the WPGA (now the LET); became its chairman; won a couple of times; became a coach (a PGA Master Professional), a broadcaster, a writer, an after-dinner speaker and a referee.
She wrote the foreword for Dai’s and my version of Teach Yourself Golf and said, “The image of golf is that it’s for the rich, an elitist sport and it just is not. You know what Ken [her husband] and I see all around us in golf? We see people having fun, so much fun and that’s what golf can be for everyone.”
Ask people about Bev and they use words like welcoming, helpful, encouraging, generous……Alan Walker, a good friend and himself a captain of the PGA, said, “I will remember her as a beacon for all that is good in a person – someone who always did the right thing, acted with courtesy, humility and professionalism and her enthusiasm for golf and life was overwhelming. We have lost a beautiful person.”
Our hearts go out to Ken and all Bev’s family and friends.
I’ve come to the conclusion that at times like this the best we can do is enjoy our lives, cherish our family and friends and do our best to live life to the full. That might mean sitting in the garden watching the butterflies on the buddleia, trekking in the Himalayas, hitting Las Vegas or helping out at the local food bank – or all of those things. Who knows?
Yesterday I played in Whittington Heath’s Captains’ Charity AmAm, in support of Newlife, the charity for disabled children. It was a beautiful, slightly chilly, breezy morning, the company was good, the golf was pretty good and despite a couple of dodgy holes we ended with 90 points, spot on for the format – two scores to count from four, 90 per cent of handicap, men off the white logs, women off the red with two shots added to their handicap because we’re using the men’s stroke index. The non-golfers will have left already! One of the game’s many authorities has an iron rule of thumb for this format: you’ve got to average five points a hole to have a chance.
Well, we were out early and led for quite a time but in the end we were pipped by a four who finished with what can only be described as an unbelievably theatrical flourish. The 18th, for reasons that include a new bunker that is destined for another hole, is now a par 5 for the men as well as the women and the winners surged to the top of the leaderboard with an outrageous NINE points on that one, crucial hole. An eagle 3 and a birdie 4 by guys who both had shots did the job and we were relegated to the runners-up spot by a single point. Hey ho.
Probably the worst part of my round was losing a precious commodity, a relative rarity – in this country at least. Bearing in mind the prestigious occasion and the stellar company, I opted to play a new ball and chose one of the Honmas I’d been given at the AGW dinner at Portrush. Honma’s the Japanese company with a mole in the logo and they make exceedingly expensive clubs – Justin Rose is one of their men – as well as balls. I was three quarters hoping that the balls were also exceedingly expensive, maybe two or three times more than other balls but that doesn’t seem to be the case, although our pro’s shop doesn’t stock them. So I just lost a ball, not the crown jewels, when I skited mine off the 7th tee into the ferns in front of my nose.
Our 7th is a longish par 3 and there are bunkers to carry if you’re to make the green. Mostly I have to take my driver, assiduous gym work notwithstanding and yesterday there was a strong breeze against. My last swing thought was “I could do with Jordan here” as I attempted my version of a long-drive launch and hurtled the ball off the heel into oblivion. So much for delusions of distance.
Fortunately, Jordan Brooks, our long drive maestro, did a bit better at the latest World Championship in America and finished third. He really is world-class.