Whisper it quietly – don’t want her to hear – but Mum would have been 100 next Monday, the 8th of June. She wasn’t keen on anyone knowing her age and Maureen and I really only found out by accident, when we had a casual look at a newly acquired passport. Luckily for Dad, Mum had a fear of flying, so globetrotting wasn’t on her agenda and she had no interest in exotic holidays to expensive resorts on far-flung islands. You didn’t need a passport to get to Donegal or Dublin or Belfast or Mullingar or Lahinch or Killarney or Cork or Rosslare.
Our holidays were mostly golf related and, usually, the car did the job. Mum wasn’t fond of boats either, which was a bit inconvenient for someone born on an island but providing it was calm enough she’d brave the ferry from Larne to Stranraer. Sadly, I wasn’t there to witness her finest hour when Dad and Mo had settled themselves on the boat but, after a chat with the purser, who confirmed that it was a replacement and “a bit of an old tub”, Mum decided that she wasn’t going and that they were all getting off. Dad, paper opened and pipe lit, said he wasn’t moving and called Mum’s bluff by chucking the car keys on the table. “There you are,” he said, settling back into his seat.
Mum snatched up the keys, said, “Come on, Maureen,” and headed for the car deck. Mo, sheepishly and Dad, furiously, followed.
The men on the car deck did a bit of yelling, directing and re-arranging and Mum, apparently with great aplomb, reversed down the ramp, off the boat and back to check-in, where she booked them on to a more suitable craft. Dad said not a word until they were more than halfway to Scotland. Then, at last, he uttered. “There’s something wrong, we haven’t stopped.”
“Why would we stop?”
“To pick up the wreckage.”
Collapse of all parties and peace was restored.
Apologies if you’ve heard this story before but it’s one of my favourites and I couldn’t resist using it as a centenary celebration.
Mum and Dad played and watched golf all over Ireland and beyond and if she wasn’t at home, it was odds on you’d find her on the golf course, armed with a trusty set that included a strong 5-iron and a weak 5.
Mum wasn’t a great fan of having her photograph taken but every now and then we’d take her more or less unawares – and sometimes even I, famous for my headless snaps, would manage to get most of her in the frame, head and all. That was in the days when you had to take the film to be developed, so it was always exciting to see if anything half decent came back. I once took a picture of the formidable Enid Wilson, a very distinctive figure who wrote for the Daily Telegraph (and had won the British – matchplay – three years in a row in the early 1930s) that was mostly grass. If you looked closely, you could just see the tail end of a heel.
The US Women’s Open Championship, which was scheduled to be played this week, is a mere youngster of 75 this year and, all being well, will go ahead in December at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas. Annika Sorenstam, the Swede who won the title in 1995, 1996 and 2006, has been appointed the championship’s ambassador and will be helping celebrate the big birthday. Keep an eye out for uswomensopen.com, which will track the history of the event, using film, photos and interviews with champions past and present.
The season should be in full swing now, with top-class events everywhere you look but COVID-19 put the kibosh on that and we’re just grateful to be back out playing ourselves, emerging from lockdown with rusty swings and creaking joints – not much change there then, you might say….
I was looking forward to spending next week in Conwy in north Wales, catching up with old friends and watching the stars of the future at the Curtis Cup but that’s been put on hold until next year. Golf goes on but not quite as we knew it.
Finally, some more photos from the shoeboxes, in tribute to Sergio Gomez, who died last week. He was Jose Maria Olazabal’s manager and much, much more, his strong right arm, friend and support. In these photos, the late Phil Sheldon is orchestrating a photo shoot with a very young Jose Maria on his home territory and Sergio is doing double (or triple or quadruple) duty as the photographer’s assistant.
Endlessly affable, Sergio used to tolerate my requests for a “frasa del dia” in an attempt to improve my Spanish but the only one I can remember now, for some unknown reason, is: “Nunca venderse la piel del orso antes de cazarlo.” At least it’s an advance on “dos cervezas por favor”.
Muchas gracias Sergio.