Tuesday, November 01, 2005

On This Day In History

34 years ago today, I started a new primary school after my idyllic childhood was mercilessly uprooted and shifted to another part of the country. It’s never been talked about, much less confirmed, but I believe our family may have been embroiled in something unsavoury and we were forcibly placed into a witness protection programme.

22 years ago today, I started my first proper job (delivering newspapers until the age of 27 doesn’t really count) and ended up working for the same company for 19 years, 6 months and 6 days. Approximately.

2 years ago today, I caught a flight from London to Hong Kong at the beginning of a seven month, round the world, “big holiday adventure” as my little four year old friend Megan likes to call it.

I mention these facts only to highlight that I thought here might be some newspaper column mileage in the notion that significant events often happen on a recurring date. I was wrong. The mileage was short and the journey came to an abrupt halt at a literary dead end.

So instead here’s a tale of a weekend spent golfing and drinking and a whole bunch of other stuff that I can only hint at.

I have a little calendar on my desk; one of those page-a-day efforts that you tear off each morning to reveal that YES – it really IS a long time till the weekend comes round again. My particular calendar contains scenic photographs of different golf courses and they’re often accompanied by a bit of history about the course or a flowery quotation from some literary figure I’ve never heard of. Last Thursday was a perfect example.

“Golf camaraderie,” proclaimed the writer, “like that of astronauts and Antarctic explorers, is based on a common experience of transcendence. Fat or thin, scratch or duffer, we have been somewhere together where non-golfers never go.”

As a golfer who regularly frequents golf courses with friends, the revelation that “we have been somewhere together where non-golfers never go” was hardly earth shattering news. But I could tell the writer was hinting at something deeper and the discovery of the quotation was timely, coming as it did two days before a golfing weekend away with some of my oldest pals.

The organisers of the trip had clearly decided that hopping a cheap flight to the Med to play golf in the sun was strictly for wimps and had opted instead for a small seaside town on the east coast of Scotland. They had reasoned, no doubt, that on the off chance that the late October weather turned inclement, we could always fill our time with a spot of antiquing or lashings of tea and buns at the local café.

However, as our convoy - fat, thin, scratch and duffer alike - rolled into town on Saturday morning, spirits were high and hip flasks were at the ready.

“Weather looks reasonable,” noted Optimistic Doug before emerging from his car to find the remnants of Hurricane Wilma howling across the fairways. “Och, it’s just a breeze,” he added annoyingly as I donned a fifth layer of clothing to my already bulky frame.

Fortunately the rain stayed away and we checked into our hotel on Saturday night excited about all the possibilities that a night out in a small seaside town on the east coast of Scotland might bring.

The room allocation passed without major incident – although I’m sure I caught one or two relieved looks on the faces of those who managed to avoid sharing with the well known snorers – and after ignoring certain pleas to stay in and watch The X Factor, we were soon suited and booted and ready to paint the town red. Or a lighter shade of grey at least.

First stop of the night was the local curry house, a choice that always seems like such a good idea at the time but one which, five short hours later, will relegate the snoring issue to the bottom of the list of problems associated with sharing a hotel room.

From there, the search was on for a decent drinking establishment but the rain was now lashing down so we waddled across the road and tumbled into the first pub we encountered. Had there been a piano player playing, he would have stopped abruptly and joined the rest of the saloon patrons glaring at the eight strangers who had somehow breached their town walls.

Maybe it was just my imagination but pool cues, along with the women folk, seemed to be held a little tighter until the locals determined that eight timid city boys did not require to be run out of town. Besides, it was too wet for them to light their flaming torches.

Although I’d love to tell you about the crazy antics that unfolded as the weekend progressed, the rules of the trip caution otherwise. What happens in a small seaside town on the east coast of Scotland STAYS in a small seaside town on the east coast of Scotland.


At 1/11/05 12:25 am, Blogger Green Glass Beads said...

Sounds like you´ve been having a rough time of it lately Neily. Hope all´s well and all that. I seriously suggest substituting the train for some moped or something though cos I´m scared you´ll go mad otherwise...

At 1/11/05 5:15 pm, Blogger svetlana said...

aw, you jerk. you had me reading every word waiting for a juicy scandal. :-D well done, you.

At 1/11/05 9:30 pm, Blogger Neil said...

Sai - I'm managing to struggle on somehow. Many thanks for your concern.

Svetlana - 'Jerk'? Is that a term of endearment in California/Canada?

At 2/11/05 8:53 am, Blogger DC said...


Was the Sutherland family's " move" 34 years ago anything to do with the harm done to Scotland's proud and noble kilt wearing image by yourself and Stuart( Tartan Kilts 2 - 22.3.05). If this wasn't bad enough, all the Surlan " Boys" - finish the job more than 30 years later on an international stage !( Tartan kilts 4 - 16.3.05).



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