Paul Azinger, who now commentates for NBC, is that rare being in the modern world:  a winning US Ryder Cup captain.  He is also a wind-up merchant par excellence but the worrying thing is that he might well have been serious on Sunday when he intimated that Tommy Fleetwood, in contention to win the Honda Classic in Florida, would be making a big step up by winning on the US tour for the first time.  Fleetwood, a winner of significant events elsewhere and runner-up in the 2018 US Open, played some ropey shots towards the end, to finish third behind Im Sung-jae, a South Korean who looks like a major winner in waiting.

More of Azinger later but this week’s blog has a confession to make, a shameful admission for someone who was brought up in Portstewart, on a coastline battered by Atlantic winds, a place where trees were in short supply (probably still are, even with global warming) and where gardeners were stubborn, determined people not to be messed with.  How our neighbours, keen, diligent, ever-optimistic gardeners, put up with Hamlet, our adorable but wayward, untrained golden cocker spaniel, rampaging through their lovingly-tended patches, is beyond belief.

I cringe at the memory.  Hamlet – Dad was fond of Shakespeare – would turn three circles in our front garden, then set off on his circuit.  He’d leap over the low wall, across the road into the field opposite, tear round it, then back up the road and into a garden two or three doors up, round, through the fence – just three wire strands in those days – and down through more gardens, completing the loop several times.  There were some complaints I believe – that nearly came up as complants and, my goodness, more than enough plants were compromised if not uprooted.  Mortifying, as even our mother, who loathed that word, had to admit when we looked back in horror years later.

Couldn’t lay my hands on a pic of Hamlet. Is it in that box of photos behind the champers?

That thoughtlessness – not overlooking the lack of canine control – is pretty shameful but what I’m admitting to, reluctantly, is that I fear I’ve become a fair-weather golfer.   It is, I’m assured by Mo, obligatory to mention golf in this blog, so that’s what I’m doing, even though there’s been very little golf in my life recently.  There’s been a fair bit of golf elsewhere, of course but since my telly has now gone to the charity shop, I haven’t seen a lot of it – nothing of the telly, if you’re being picky and pedantic and very little of the golf.

It’s been mostly wild, wet, cold and pretty miserable weatherwise, my swing’s been more dodgy than ever, with a turn that’s non-existent and I’ve being thinking about other things.  Friends, some of them a lot older than I am, have been out there swinging womanfully, a couple have even won through to the next round of the Daily Mail Foursomes, winning away at Beau Desert, at the 20th.  Proper, competitive golf, in Staffordshire, at this time of year!   Australia, California, Florida, Oman, OK but middle England?  In March?  Blimey, well done girls.

Mo did persuade me to go with her to the driving range at Clays, in Wrexham, last Saturday and we shared a bucket of balls as she worked on sorting out her backswing.  I videoed her swing for her and as usual she gave me some sage advice and made me think that even I could improve, given time, a bit of sun and, most important and unlikely of all, a smidgeon of commitment.  Now, where did I put those clubs?…..

Off her rocker: no hiding place for anything, surely, let alone a passport.

For those of you who follow the blog (is that the right terminology?), you know that not remembering where I put things is one of my specialities.  It’s not a particularly useful skill (?) but I’m good at mislaying things that are of some importance.  My passport is one of those items.  After we came back from South Africa last year, at about this time, I had my passport.  Obviously.  I must have had it.  I got home.  Then it disappeared.

I hunted and hunted, checking box after box, drawer after drawer, ignoring my brother-in-law’s suggestions to report it lost and apply for a replacement.  It MUST be in the house somewhere.  Eventually, in September or October, with a rather unedifying screech of triumph, I found it.  Hallelujah.   Later I looked more closely.  It had expired in July…..

I used to travel week in, week out, passport in travel wallet, always to hand.  I’d found the passport but where, oh where, was the travel wallet?  No sign of it.  Strange.  These days I don’t wander too far, so I wasn’t in a rush to replace the passport, plenty of time to do that – unless I was the unlikely winner of ITV’s comp to go to Rome for the England/Italy match at the end of the Six Nations.  Lovely hotel, oodles of spending dosh, three nights in Rome, goodness gracious me, worth watching England for……Good thing I didn’t enter now that the coronavirus is disrupting everything.

New floor means new arrangement of furniture and cleaning everything from fridge drawers to blinds.

I’ve been very exercised recently with the saga of my floor, as all my long-suffering friends and family know.  Much-vaunted Karndean rippling like the ocean wave, making me feel a bit queasy, like Captain Pugwash ( I don’t think there are any younger readers so no need to explain).  John Lewis, my insurers, Which? recommended, weren’t interested but, eventually, I had to give in and arrange for the whole lot to be replaced.  Different flooring, from Howdens, beautifully laid by Stacey and Simon (B E Central Construction), looks like a real success, fingers crossed.

Anyway, the furniture had to go into storage and that’s when I found the travel wallet, under the cushion on my Ikea rocker – no longer the hiding place of choice, potential burglars please note.  And in the travel wallet there was a passport, expiry date 2028…..

Thursday is meant to be blog day but yesterday included tai chi (and tea), washing machine de-gunging (furniture and household appliances returned on Wednesday), bridge in the afternoon (what was I thinking – and we were stuffed; didn’t get the cards) and Tom Lehrer (irresistible despite the day) in the evening.  That’s life, thank goodness.

I’d forgotten just how wickedly funny Tom Lehrer was. Great fun and still relevant.

Finally, I will just say that Azinger, who really shouldn’t wind nice (but competitive) people like Fleetwood up in a Ryder Cup year, is a bit antediluvian if he thinks that to be regarded as really good you have to win on the US PGA Tour.  It’s a good idea if you want to be disgustingly, mega, mega (in golfing terms) rich and guaranteed shedloads of world ranking points and some decent weather occasionally but not vital otherwise.

Of course, the PGA Tour, which likes to exert a Kremlin-like control over things – and it’s not the only organisation guilty of that – will probably lay claim to all the majors because they’re on its schedule even though they’re not its responsibility and are run by somebody else.

On reflection, though, nothing much has changed over the years:  all non-Americans have to win in America to prove  (to the Americans) that they’re better than just good because that’s where three of the majors are played – and don’t forget, it’s only a small percentage of Americans who have passports….

Tom Lehrer could write a song about it.

Tony Jacklin won the Open and the US Open, so even the Americans had to admit the Brit could play. [Think I took the snap, so it’s remarkable Tony, beaming at the camera, is in the picture at all!]