I played golf on Monday – 13 holes in glorious sunshine with two friends – and got battered by our oldest member, who played beautifully, racking up bogeys and an annoying number of pars at holes where she got two shots. No hugs at the end, of course – not because we were bad losers but because we were meticulous social distancers.
“Same time tomorrow?” we said, having seen that the forecast was good and anxious to play as much as we could while we could.
As we’d feared, however, that was our lot. Courses all over the country are now closed but we are allowed one walk, one cycle or one run a day. Some wit put up a pic of Boris announcing: “You can only go for one walk a day” followed by a pic of the Proclaimers with the caption, “Say no more.”
It made me laugh and I sent it to a friend but she’s not a Scot, not a fan and she was baffled: “I think my brain’s gone on strike, don’t get it!!!!!”
She didn’t recognise the talented twins, Craig and Charlie, from Edinburgh but she knew the song: “I would walk 500 miles…..” (proper title “I’m Gonna Be…”), so all was explained.
I’ve been mixing my walks (with the sainted Alice) with gentle cycle rides – the easy-peasy way to keep your distance – and, given the lack of traffic, pot holes are the main hazard. I even pedalled round Bowling Green Island, a big, scary, speedy roundabout near me that, normally, I wouldn’t take a pension to cycle round. There was, of course, a car buzzing about behind me complicating matters but I lived to tell the tale, though I’m not sure I maintained the perfect line.
One thing still puzzles me, though. How on earth do cyclists build up the necessary resilience in their nether regions? Not a pain barrier I feel I can break through in the amount of time I hope I have left. Do you think a sheepskin saddle would help? Or should I stick to walks in Beacon Park?
Talking of sheepskin, I took advantage of the sunshine yesterday to wash my slippers and a variety of ancient headcovers, all allocated to clubs that have long been retired from active duty. The most aged cover is from the 1983 Ryder Cup at PGA National, where Seve pulled off his miraculous 3-wood recovery from a bunker and Jack Nicklaus, the US captain, kissed the ground when Lanny Wadkins produced his own bit of magic to ensure that the USA won a damned close-run thing.
Next up is the 1986 US Open cover from Shinnecock Hills, where Raymond Floyd won the title by two shots from Wadkins and Chip Beck, with Lee Trevino and Hal Sutton a shot further back. They were one ahead of Ben Crenshaw and Payne Stewart, who both started with 76 – the par was 70. Amazing how much joy a golf tragic can get from just reading the results. Remember Joey Sindelar, Jodie Mudd, Larry RInker, Mac O’Grady, Tsuneyuki Nakajima, Sandy Lyle? They’re all in there.
There’s also a John Daly lion with a multi-coloured mane, bought in Augusta from the man himself and a dragon, inherited from Dai. Amazing what you can find to do when you’re not allowed to stray far from home.
I’ve also found time to clean my winter golf boots, which, with luck, will not be needed again this year. Let’s hope Footjoy realise they’re a staple and don’t decide to discontinue, which would only discombobulate the happy wearers. They’re cosy, comfortable and quite brilliant. They’re the black ones in the foreground, with the sainted Dubarrys in the background. Those cost an arm and two legs but have proved worth every penny/cent. They made their debut at the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, in 2010, in a mud bath, more than earning their keep. Still going strong nearly 10 years later, their cost-per-wearing must be so minuscule as to be unmeasurable.
Now that we’re more or less confined to barracks, with police patrols checking that any journey is really necessary, those of us who are on our own are being encouraged to learn a language, take up reading, write poetry, sing, discover our inner Piscasso, cook like Jamie, speak to our friends and neighbours (at a distance), volunteer to drive, collect prescriptions, whatever, anything to stop us going stir crazy.
I’m happy to do all of those things – or give them a go – but, first, the clearing, sorting, de-cluttering continues, the never-ending battle against STUFF. Some of it’s lovely, most of it makes me smile and brings happy memories flooding back, so much so that I can’t just wave an arm and say goodbye, consigning it all to the charity box without a bit of thought or a pang of regret. Another few months of quarantine, though, and even I should be good to go. Greek anyone?
Or, of course, I could turn my attention to golf.