Well, so much for my September resolution of getting the blog done and dusted early, well before the wee, small hours.  I put it down not just to being a lazy, prevaricating git but to being a bit depressed after virtual choir.  Singing with other people is meant to be one of the best, most uplifting, endorphin-enhancing activities, good for us on every level….and so it is, usually; even for me, a novice striving to overcome nearly 60 years of standing at the back and miming.

The more uncharitable of my family and friends – the ones with half an ear – suggest that I should still be standing at the back and miming after several years of failing to hit a note with a group of amazingly tolerant, forgiving people, most of whom hit the right notes with impressive regularity.  Dai, who could sing, roared in agony whenever I ventured a warble in the shower and we ended up in kinks laughing the one time he tried to get me started and I couldn’t even manage doh.   The sopranos are safe from me but I now apologise unreservedly to the men and women lower down the scale, the poor souls within earshot.  And to the sainted Helen, our leader, who managed not to wince at my efforts in the days when we could all get together in the same space.

At least I know what the best sound like…simply beyond me.

We’re all on mute when we sing together via Zoom – even the best sound cacophonous otherwise, so there are still some technological frontiers to cross.  At the end of yesterday’s session, when we were singing Morecambe and Wise’s ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ (composed by Arthur Kent, lyrics by Sylvia Dee), I made one of my dafter decisions:  I picked up the phone and switched on the voice recorder, just to check how far I was from my first recording contract.  Then, pushing the outer edges of daftness, I replayed the recording….

If I had any sense – which, patently, I don’t – I’d have ended the blog there and gone to bed to nurse my shattered aspirations and get a decent night’s sleep.  But then I’d have had to face the fact that there’d been no mention of golf at all…

And there was plenty of memorable golf early in the week, albeit at a more lowly level than the ANA Inspiration, the second women’s major of this disrupted season, which got under way yesterday in the searing heat of the Californian desert at Mission Hills Golf Club. A travelling band (of golfers) from Llangollen Golf Club (plus one interloper from WHGC) endured much wetter conditions at Pleasington on Monday, although we set off well fed after being treated to our lunch by the club president, a gesture of hospitality that was above and beyond the call of duty.  Many thanks, Michael.  Mo’s back was playing up, so she didn’t play, which, given the near relentless rain, was a wise decision.

Ready for the off at Pleasington, home club of Julia Greenhalgh, one of Britain’s best golfers in the 1960s and 70s.  Is Mo grimacing with pain or grinning because she won’t be swinging in the rain? [Pic by Aly]

Pleasington, near Blackburn, goes beyond undulating and would take a lot of playing in the dry with a bit of run on the ball but we made it round – my highlight was avoiding what would have been a very expensive hole-in-one by 12 inches – then headed off for a night in Blackpool, at the Imperial Hotel, my first non-family stayaway in months.  The famous Illuminations had been switched on a few days before but it was still raining, so I nipped outside for a quick glance then scuttled back inside, masked up.  Lucky we weren’t booked in for next Monday when, from the sound of it, parties of more than six will be illegal.

Impossible to leave it out, even unilluminated….[pic by Aly]

On Tuesday, we played St Annes Old Links, not quite in the shadow of the Tower but not so far from it.  Plenty of linksy humps and hollows, no hills to speak of and no rain but no pushover, with bunkers, bunkers everywhere.  If you want to score at St Annes, you HAVE to avoid the sand.  I played the wrong club short of the bunkers guarding the 2nd green and the ball ran unerringly into the middle pot.  Three attempted extrications later I conceded defeat, picked up and our designated raker set to work, fearing a very long day.  In fact, after an initial flurry, she had a long, sand-free period before making up for it at the short 16th, one of the many greens  surrounded by bunkers, where all but one of us hit the beach.

The bunkers at St Annes Old Links are a work of art but you don’t want to be in them – or raking them. Thank you Ann, la presidente.  She was glad to return her rake to the communal barrel, ready for sanitising.

It was late when we finished, so we headed off for fish and chips at the justly renowned Whelans and then had a pavement presentation that verged on the bizarre but was the perfect end to a memorable trip.  Thanks to everyone for the laughs and the photos.

All smiles after the delicious fish supper, nothing odd about that…..[Pic by Aly]

But the presentation smacked of the surreal…[Pic by Sue]

The same day, at Kedleston Park in Derby, Scotland’s Heather MacRae successfully defended her WPGA Championship title, posting a 36-hole total of 145, three under par, one shot ahead of Keely Chiericato, champion in 2018 and two ahead of former British and US Women’s Open champion Alison Nicholas MBE.  A few days after last year’s championship MacRae underwent surgery for cervical cancer and, what with recuperation and lockdown, could be described as seriously undergolfed.  Heaven help the rest when she’s in full competitive flow…..

A well-ordered presentation:  Heather MacRae with her trophy. [Pic courtesy of Adrian Milledge, PGA]