My mate Kate is a great Elvis fan, devoted to the man – she even went to Graceland and Tupelo with two of her grandchildren earlier this year, the trip of a lifetime.  Dai always pooh-poohed this devotion, decrying Elvis as a debauched druggie (or some such), although I don’t think he ever dared suggest that he couldn’t sing or send an audience into a frenzy.  On reflection, perhaps it was simple jealousy.

Kate revelling in the Graceland tour.  Note the white gloves.  Dai would have been putting the boot in…

You see, Dai used to joke that he could have been the British Buddy Holly – if only he hadn’t lost the dark, curly hair too early and spurned the advances of Larry Parnes at Tommy Steele’s 21st birthday party.  Parnes managed Steele and many other British rock and rollers and apparently had a penchant for young men, though his obituary in the Daily Telegraph said that “he was circumspect about mixing business with pleasure.  The greatest loves of his life were two Alsatian dogs, Prince and Duke….”.

I love this picture of Dai (note his lack of dark, curly hair) and me.  It was taken at the Monte Carlo Sporting Club a few hours after we’d jetted in from San Francisco.  I went to Paris next.  Those were the days…

All this came flooding back because we’ve just started back at singing – yes, I’m still persevering, relying on the patience and forbearance of teacher Helen and my nearest neighbours – and one of our new songs is “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, recorded, of course, by Elvis Presley.  Words and music by George David Weiss, Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore, arranged by Roger Emerson.  It’s absolutely lovely and sounds amazing, even at this early stage, so I messaged Kate, saying, “Perhaps you were right!!!”

The score (imagine me having one of those!) leaning against a familiar figure on a Costco Christmas popcorn tin.

After singing I sat in on a rehearsal for a concert I’m going to miss and now I’m even more gutted that I won’t be there.  Admittedly, I’ll be in Rome for the Ryder Cup, so it’s not all bad but if you go to this concert, you’ll be blown away by the talent.  And it’s all in aid of pancreatic cancer – which doesn’t sound right but you know what I mean.

And here are the performers who’ll be giving it their considerable all.  Don’t miss them.

From left to right, Julia, Clare, Helen and Lisa (hope I’ve got all the spellings right). They’re a wonderfully talented bunch.

Earlier in the week, well, at the end of last week, two friends and I went to a concert in the unusual and unique setting of Sandfields Pumping Station in Lichfield, a marvel of Victorian engineering that brought clean water to the Black Country and helped stamp out cholera in the area.  There was a narrator, who’d written most of the material and the shanty singers of the Lichfield Lighthouse Company (a lighthouse in landlocked Staffordshire?), to tell the story of the visionary engineers who made it happen.  It was brill and we only knew about it because Sue M and her art class had been there to do some drawing and painting.

An engineer’s dream: a Victorian pumping station full of stunning stuff.


Victorian ingenuity extolled in story, song and slides.

What else has there been in the past few days?  Ah yes.  Cricket.  A visit to Edgbaston to watch Warwickshire play Northamptonshire.  There wasn’t a full day’s play because of a bit of rain but we had turkey and trimmings for Sunday lunch in the Tom Dollery Lounge, I shook hands with MJK Smith (book signing) and not a single wicket fell while we there.  By the time we got to the car – just across the road, just after tea – at least three wickets had gone!  Ah well, such is sport – and life.

Floodlights on in mid-afternoon as play resumes after a delay. Cricketers have to learn patience early on…

There was golf too – hooray, a mention at last.  It was WHGC’s Ladies’ Open Texas Scramble and, wouldn’t you know, it rained.  Day after day of sunshine and then…wet, wet, wet. It was persistent but not so bad that it made things unplayable.  My partners and I did OK-ish, respectable enough but a long way off the 61 nett that won.  In this format you have to hole lots of putts and we didn’t.

Still, it was great fun and I got to meet Viv, partner of John, my fount of all Spurs knowledge, at last.  She’s a member at Coxmoor, one of my favourite courses, home of the late, great Dave Musgrove, caddy to Sandy Lyle among many others.  Viv didn’t even know she wanted to play golf until John, a sporty football obsessive, gave her lessons for Christmas and that was it – she was hooked.

Viv (Coxmoor, right), Chris (Horsley Lodge, left) and me (WHGC) all togged up and ready to go. [Thanks to Pauline, the starter, for the pic]

Last but by a long way – at least 100 kilometres – not least, many, many congrats to Sue Kershaw and Rachel Bailey, who completed their ultra walk of 100 kiloms alongside the Thames, from Putney Bridge to Henley (I think), in aid of Peaches Womb Cancer Trust.  I’ll spare you the snap of Rachel’s feet after their trek but it’s undoubtedly a good thing that her mum’s a chiropodist…

Outstanding effort.

Sue (left) and Rachel, exhausted but elated after two days of tramping.

That was the week that was….