Not much golf for me this week but Maureen and I did have a treat on Tuesday, a jaunt to London for a do at the Embassy of Ireland in Grosvenor Place, hosted by Ambassador Dan Mulhall and his wife Greta, in aid of the Journalists’ Charity. There was a sombre one minute silence in memory of the people killed in the most recent Manchester bombing and the ambassador’s valedictory speech – he’s off to Washington next – was poignant and heartfelt, not the jocular address he’d planned.
A lot of people had to cry off because they were working round the clock on the tragic story and its aftermath but those of us who were there hugged our friends with extra vigour. It was great to catch up with Tom Clarke, who was my first sports editor at The Times and sent me off round the world, and his wife Meg, both keen golfers and full of bounce and joie de vivre.
I don’t miss traipsing round the world covering tournaments – airports are much less user friendly these days – but I did feel a pang when I heard Iain Carter on Radio 5 Live giving us an update on the early starters in the first round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
It was hot and sunny – a day for seeking out the shade if you’re a north Atlantic bod like me – so I thought I’d watch a bit on the telly, see if I’d recognise the course after the latest changes and spot veterans who were just beginners when I was writing about them. Then I remembered, damn, it’s not on the Beeb any more, it’s on Sky and when they lied to me and set the debt collectors on me, I swore a great oath never to have dealings with them again. Also, there was a certain amount of self-preservation involved because as a sports nut (less hardcore than in the past but a bit of a tragic nonetheless), I thought I might have difficulty getting out of the house: I’ll just wait till the end of this over; ooh, I’ll wait till the end of the game/set/match; rugby 7s involving Fiji, better watch that; bit of footie, why not, could be a good game; better brush up on my rugby before the Lions go over to mangle (!!??)/squeak past the All Blacks [Note to all tourists: BBUs (Brave But Unavailings) are banned].
Anyway, I went up to the golf club to put my clubs in the locker after their tour of Ireland and Cheshire and, lo, the golf was on and there was a guy in a green shirt over a putt of about 10 feet. Looks like Luke Donald I thought and it was indeed Luke Donald, the current, mature model, who missed the putt, which the younger, potential-major-champion model never did. There seemed to be plenty of people out on the course watching the golf, whatever Maureen’s fears about all the added extras in the tented village. Let’s hope the medics didn’t get overrun with cases of sunstroke. Remember the old Aussie slogan, slip, slap, slop. Can’t remember the order but it involved a tee shirt, a sunhat (with a broad brim, no ear-revealing baseball caps) and sunscreen.
The sun reminded me that it was time to root out the summer wardrobe and do you know what? I hadn’t a thing to wear. Where were the shorts? Ah, just that pair I bought when the airline lost my luggage a few years ago and are all right to put on when you’re somewhere with people who know you very well – or not at all. Not golf club friendly, probably, in truth, only back garden friendly and then only if you avoid that rose with the vicious, Spanish Inquisition, punk-like spikes.
It’s depressing, not having a summer wardrobe that doesn’t make you look like one of those old-fashioned Brits abroad or at the seaside, knotted hanky on head; rolled up trousers; sandals with socks; arms and faces flashing red for danger and a visit to the dermatologist. It reminds me of the cringe-making photos of me playing golf at Prairie Dunes in Kansas in 1986 prior to the historic GB and I Curtis Cup victory in temperatures of 100-plus Fahrenheit. It was not something I was equipped to do, either physically or sartorially and 30 years on nothing much has changed.
Except, perhaps, that I’m ready to accept my parchment-coloured legs that look as though they’ve spent a lifetime in a sarcophagus and root out that skort that I bought in a moment of Mary Beard over-60 bravado last year.
Comfort rules OK…….