Well, I can’t believe it. Two working lifetimes of stuff – or most of it – disposed of to a good home. As we sorted through the seemingly endless boxes crammed with papers, Maureen said, often, “Why on earth would anyone want that?”
“They’re archivists, Maureen. They’ll take anything. They’re worse than me.” That may or may not be true of the keepers of the British Golf Museum in St Andrews but I really needed my sister to keep me on track and stop me from reading and keeping every last bit of paper. “Did you NEVER throw anything away?”
Dai, who had the gall to accuse me of being the hoarder, had kept virtually everything, not least because it was a valuable research tool and very necessary when we wrote Beyond The Fairways. One tattered sheet showed the book was going to be called Over The Humps And Hollows, A Golfing Odyssey, a title much dearer to our hearts but since Ping were kindly providing financial backing, Callaway’s putter could hardly get top billing. Ulysses be damned. The reviews were good, the sales less so and one Dutch publisher called it, “Almost a classic.” Lots of memories.
Apologies to all social historians but out went all the pittance slips from The Birmingham Post and Golf World, endless invoices and expenses claims, testimony to the days when golf writers were sent further afield than the sofa and the Sky subscription. There were letters aplenty to and from sports editors and I couldn’t throw away the one from Tom Clarke of The Times that started: “Dear Patricia, Welcome back from the South Seas.” Indisputably a classic.
Dai was an inveterate collector of islands so we’d been to The Marquesas – no golf there – on the Aranui, a copra boat, picking her up in Tahiti, where we did play golf with a lovely woman called Tiare. She’d once travelled to play in the French Championship and wrapped in waterproofs and woolly hat met Cecilia Mourgue d’Algue in the first round. A long way over to go out.
We also played golf on King Island; Norfolk Island (that’s a very long story which involved the amazing Maiseys from Robin Hood in Birmingham, Solihull to be exact); Cruit Island; Waikaya; Barbados (bought by Ian Botham in an auction); and the Isles of Scilly, to name but a few.
Enough people liked our stuff to keep us going over the years, although there was one critic who commented on one of our submissions thus: “This copy was not written by me and I have to say it doesn’t meet the standards I would expect from a prestigious golf publication. Frankly, sections of it do not appear to have been written by a native English speaker.” Another classic. As were the expletives from Dai, a Welshman born in Crewe, who was incandescent. I did the re-write and completed the assignment
There were too many obituaries: Alister Nicol; Jan Blomqvist; Angela Uzielli; Bill Johnson; Rhonda Glenn; Dick Taylor; Bill Blighton; Liz Pook; Phil Sheldon; Neil Elsey; Georgie Hart; Peter Dobereiner; Marian Carr; Michael Williams; Maureen Garrett; Peter Corrigan; Bev Norwood; Joan Rothschild; the list goes on and on. But you know what, sad though it is that a lot of them died far too young, my goodness, it’s the laughs and the fun that remain in the memory. I’m smiling between the tears as I write this and I’ll still be smiling when the tears have gone.
Finally, heartfelt thanks to all at OCON (Owens Conveyor Company) in Aldridge for storing my stuff for so long and saving it for the nation (or a small bit of the golfing nation). Without your generosity, patience and forbearance, I’d have had to chuck it all on the tip – or taken it to BIFFA next door. Thanks again.