Well, it’s no-Masters week and the Open at Royal St George’s has already been put off until next year, so we (currently non) golfers have been indulging in a lot of nostaglia – in between perfecting our visualisation skills, improving our flexibility, strengthening our glutes and revamping our swing. We’ve all had plenty of time to do all that, haven’t we?
I was rooting through my stuff, as per usual and came across some photos, well, hundreds of photos – they’re the last frontier when it comes to de-cluttering – and, lo and behold, some of them were of Masters past. There are some black and white ones taken by Dai in the 1970s but I’ve spared you those and put in a selection for your delectation and delight.
The cars are pretty aged but look at the press room and those enormous great typewriters; the lawn is ready for action, one green jacket in situ early and the waiters ready to roll; and Peter McEvoy on one of the biggest stages of all.
McEvoy, for his sins Dai’s and my best man, played in two Masters Tournaments as (British) Amateur champion and in 1978 he played all four rounds. He finished a little bit behind Gary Player, the unexpected winner, who had a last round of 64, to beat Tom Watson, the defending champion, Hubert Green and Rod Funseth by one shot. Lindy Miller was the leading amateur and Gary Hallberg, Vance Haefner and Richard Siderowf were the other amateurs to make the cut. Gary P, by the way, won $45,000, a fair amount of money in those days.
Player’s playing partner that day was Severiano Ballesteros and two years later the Spaniard won the first of his two green jackets, inspiring his European contemporaries Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam and his compatriot Jose Maria Olazabal, a little younger, to take Augusta by storm. Between them all they won the title 11 times from 1980 – 1999. Astonishing – and inspiring.
The Masters is a tough week for journalists and the man taking a power nap (behind what looks like a Tandy, an early computer, in what was the upgrade on the original Nissan hut of a press room/media centre) is the late, lamented Alister Nicol, the squat Scot, who spent a large part of his career with the Scottish Daily Record. I think the photo on the right, though still in Tandy time, was taken somewhere else but it shows a young (ish) Michael McDonnell of the Daily Mail staring down the photographer and, behind, a thoughtful Dai in (de)composing mode (disturb at your peril).
This picture (below) is sheer indulgence. It’s me posing for the piece I wrote for The Times about playing Augusta National the week before the Masters. Not sure who the photographer was – Hugh Routledge perhaps? There’s also a pic somewhere of me on the phone to my Mum – a Hi Ma – telling her that I’d just had a par 3 at the 16th. Miraculous. There were no mobiles in those days but the telephone engineer had just activated the public phones behind the green.
Changed times. Where’s the golf gone? Where’s the sport gone? Where’s the vacuum? There isn’t one, is there? I think it’s a law of physics (plum-coloured notebook, goodness knows what was in it) or something but aren’t vacuums always, inexorably, filled by something?
A lot of my friends seem to have been jet-washing the patio recently, using one of those ferocious machines that sends the muck flying everywhere and means you have to clean all the windows too – and yourself. I’ve been doing it manually, or womanually, with brush, Mangle & Wringer’s bleach, gentle but effective and water. It’s a reasonable workout in the absence of the gym and engenders a rather unedifying feeling of smug satisfaction, as though my elbow grease is saving the planet. What a load of bollocks! Perhaps I am going stir-crazy already.
Four of us tried bridge on Zoom earlier in the week and it worked, more or less. We had a lot of laughs, managed a few hands and will give it another go next week. As someone said, it needs refinement but are we refined enough to manage it? All help and advice gratefully received. Setting up the hands requires a lot of work and a lot of cards, so it’s just as well I bought a few packs whenever I was tempted into the Masters merchandise megastore.
I’m still walking Alice most days – not because Sue, her owner, is unwell but so Alice can have two walks a day. She goes on Sue’s walk and my walk, which she still finds a bit baffling but the prospect of a good sniff is too good to resist. Usually.
I hadn’t been shopping for about a week, so after walking Alice one day I kept walking and went to Waitrose, which is my nearest supermarket. Michael Fabricant, our MP (Conservative, of course), recognisable because of his blond mop, dressed in a brightly-coloured rugby shirt, was joining the queue as I left, hefting my rucksack, burdened down with some ill-judged purchases like potatoes, tins of chickpeas, litres of milk, that sort of thing. I’d also splashed out on a tin of Rare Tea Co speedy breakfast tea and was looking forward to a special cuppa when I got home. I washed my hands, filled the kettle, opened up the tin – and there was no tea therein! Ah well, back to the bags.
After Maureen’s favourite photo last week, Daphne Johnson sent us these gems from Southport and Ainsdale many years ago – I think it was when Alison Sheard won the Women’s British Open and the Pretty Polly candlesticks but am happy to stand corrected. David, the young man in the pics, son of Daphne and the late Sands, survived the ordeal and is now a professor of orthopaedic medicine.
Checking my iPad just before signing off, I realised that there’s no need, ever, to be short of things to do, not when you’re being told that you can “learn how to type with one hand…..” Wow. Never thought of that. Add it to the list….