This week marks a first for the blog – not a very distinguished first admittedly but a first nonetheless:  it was started after the shipping forecast (North Utsire, South Utsire – or is it Utsera?  Too late to delve in to the correct spelling forensically but they’re wee islands off the western coast of Norway apparently).  Anyway, that’s a pretty late start even by the standards of a world-class prevaricator.

The reason is that I had very important visitors, who required, nay, deserved my full attention, so I waited until they’d gone to bed and I’d done the clearing up (see above, fingers crossed) – and made my own bed, having taken advantage of a decent day to wash and hang out my sheets – before settling down to write.

I was going to write about golf for once but even Rory swinging sublimely in to an early lead in Dubai didn’t get the fingers tip-tapping.  It’s great to see him getting back to his best and bouncing up the fairways full of joie de golf but I think the truth is that I’m ready for a rest, longing for an off-season, waiting for events that really matter.  Or, even, an event near me that I can go and see in person.  That would do.  The last event at The Belfry, which isn’t too far from me, was still restricted and good though the telly guys are and hard as they try, there’s still a feeling of same old, same old.

Nothing old here:  Collin Morikawa, the Open champion (left), being presented with honorary life membership of the European Tour by the tour’s chief executive Keith Pelley prior to the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai.  Morikawa is in pole position to become the first American to win the Race to Dubai and become Europe’s No 1. [Getty Images]

There’s not much point writing about my own golf at the moment because there isn’t much of it and what there is is ordinary in the extreme – not always dire but always threatening to head that way.  That said, on Tuesday, in our stableford comp, I putted quite well but didn’t amass very many points, even allowing for it being over the winter distance of 15 holes.  It was, however, a joy to play with Bev Chattaway, who makes the game look easy and is one of those rare competitors who treats the twin impostors  just the same (Tyrrell Hatton take note!)  Whenever I’m playing with Bev, I try, rarely successfully, to suppress my groans and moans and tuts and ochs – after all who am I, hardly a haunter of the practice ground or a visualiser par excellence, to have any expectations whatsoever?

Bev: all ease and grace, great to watch and a pleasure to play with.

Oops, made a mistake there:  went and had a glass of water, sat down and dozed off….Could be a long night.

All being well, we at Whittington Heath will be playing throughout the winter, kept on our toes by a variety of routings as holes are taken out of commission because of tree felling or other housekeeping tasks.  Fifteen holes proved more than enough for me this week because I’d had my booster jab the day before and felt cream-crackered after what turned out to be nine holes – I had to check the temporary card to see just how many we’d played and was glad to discover later that I wasn’t the only one discombobulated by the changes.

At least we’ll have time to get used to them on the hoof, so to speak.  Last week, my Swedish friend Lena, who has lived in Helsinki for years, played her last game of the season and has put the clubs away for the next five months.  That could explain why she’s pretty good at table tennis!

Lovely day for the last game of the year in Helsinki. [Forgot to ask who took the pic]

The three musketeers or as Lena (centre) put it: The last of the Mohicans. [One of those selfie things]

I haven’t seen Lena in person for years but she tells me she’s put in an application for a new passport, so with a bit of luck will be testing her golfing skills at WHGC before too long.

Gone but not forgotten: the final knockdown as the old clubhouse is turned to dust on a suitably grey old day.

Given that my golf isn’t bringing me much joy at the moment – even my new woods seem to have developed some disconcerting shots of their own (nothing to do with me guv, obviously) and there’s no sign of the new irons – it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas before hope can spring eternal once again.  Anyway, ever optimistic, I was rather relying on my bridge to take a turn for the better and give me a much-needed confidence boost but it looks as though that will have to wait too.

I was going to explain why but then realised that that would be giving too much away to the people I’m playing with – on Zoom – this evening.  I’ve said too much already.

Hey ho.  Perhaps somebody’ll give me a weekend with Andrew Robson for Christmas….Then again, that’s unlikely.  Bridge is as small a world as golf and he’s probably been forewarned and booked himself up for the next decade or two.  More chance of a game with Rory and Gerry McIlroy at Seminole….

Now there’s a thought to gladden at least one heart.

Oops, did I just hear “No bid” in an Ulster accent?

Gareth, signed by the great man himself, back under Dai’s admiring gaze (in the photo with the sainted Kathie Shearer).