Friday, 28 April 2017

Lads On Tour II

It's over - and we partied like men on a mission, which was justified because we may not be back. There has been sensible talk of knocking it on the head and Big Fat Pig will definitely be missing because he has promised to be with the Groupie to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of their meeting.

Well how was the golf? I opened with a display of near competence at Dunmore East, a result made all the more remarkable by my being scandalously hung-over. As the alcohol coursed less thickly with the passing hours so I found myself with a minor case of the shakes which made teeing the ball a matter of high comedy.

Dunmore East Golf Club - Big Fat Pig had six pars
Next was the dreaded Faithlegg. The Pig has been known to suggest that the site should be bulldozed. Nothing this year caused a reversal of this opinion. Played like a clown; course was a bit tatty and the administration was woeful.

Tramore was in good nick but the Pig's game was not. Last up was Waterford Castle and the Pig played much better if still without anything remotely like distinction.

Good food was eaten, drinks were drunk in good company. I will miss it if we don't do it again. The thought of never chatting again to 'Flat Top' Pat from Dublin is mildly vexing. Thanks as ever to Big Willy who had the thankless task of marshalling the Pig and Viperjohn.

One last thing  - I greatly enjoyed the confit of rabbit at the Lemon Tree Cafe.  

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Lads On Tour

On the ferry as I write this, probably my last missive until I am back on board next Friday. It is not that they don't have Internet access at the places in which I will be drinking in Ireland, but rather that I can't risk leaving the computer in a bar somewhere. I know my weaknesses.

Mention of weaknesses brings me nicely onto my golf at Bull Bay yesterday. Actually not totally terrible but definitely not totally good. Big Willy naturally won the Bull Bay Classic playing off his ludicrously generous new handicap. Viperjohn and I trailed in his wake, as is our destiny.

The Irish Sea is mill-pond still which bodes well for the week to come. We leave behind the banalities of a British election campaign. Ahead lie fun and laughter and, who knows, maybe even odd incursions into golfing competence. Don't hold your breath.

Bull Bay Golf Club as photographed from my private jet

Friday, 21 April 2017

And So It Starts Again ... For The Last Time

Nobody's keeping score but I reckon this will be my seventeenth year attending the Dunmore East Golf Classic. Big Willy and Viperjohn have been at it for even longer. Well, sad to say, old time is on our track boys and it has been resolved that this will be our last trip. Things ain't what they used to be. No doubt we will think of something else to take its place - presumably something mildly less ruinous of liver and wallet.

We start tomorrow with the traditional warm-up at the glorious Bull Bay on Anglesey. Then it is the ferry on Sunday, succeeded by four days of what one must laughably call competition in Ireland's sunny South East. My golf game degenerated many years ago but I will set out with the usual ludicrous optimism that this could be the year I don't make an arse of myself. I've cleaned my clubs specially.

Bring it on!

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Another Poem

The Gradated Death of a Local Hero

1. In the Pink

And – which is more – you’ll be a man my son.
His quest for finished fullness never won
He bequeathed it to me
Not from any harshness but affection
That any loss at pitch and toss might be redone.

No island entire of itself and yet he stood
Craggy proud in spirit’s fatherhood
Gifts borne hero proper lightly
And regiven burnished to his tribe
Pretty burdens urged and not misunderstood.

2. Faded Shaded

He hosts his thieving illness
Though always searching
Yet cannot find his keys
Terrified of stillness.
For stock questions
He learns stock answers
Yet cannot find his keys
Resents helpful suggestions.
At all meals’ end he tidies
Meticulous in stacking
Yet cannot find his keys
Nor tell Sundays from Fridays.
The form is an abandoned shell
How often must we say farewell?

3. Palimpsest White

loud character overwritten
in grey
and lighter
and overscribed again until
in white
finally undetected unpersoned
in spite at our winnowed out grief
nothing can be read
of a local hero.
God mocks us.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Politics Just Got Interesting Again ... But Then Again

We're having a general election in June. Good. Should give me something to whine on about for the next few weeks.

Mind you the hurdle of the dreadful Fixed Term Parliament Act has first to be jumped. That Act, you will recall, is a monument to the hubris of Dave 'Boy' Cameron and his little mate Nick Clegg. I suggest, with all due deference, that history will judge the pair of them as smug tossers.

What then do we make of today's shenanigans? Well first up has to be the most over-publicised politician in the realm, Nicola Sturgeon. Having (correctly if a tad maliciously) taunted May as unelected and lacking a 'mandate' (surely the most overused word in modern politics) a few weeks ago, La Sturgeon now affects to bewail the snappiness of this snap election. Don't worry folks she's chuffed really because the SNP estimation is that this turn of events makes independence more attainable. And 'Good riddance' comes the chorus from the English shires - don't mention it out loud but this is very possibly part of May's calculation.

Jeremy Corbyn has professed that he welcomes the fight. I bet he does - at least when the election is lost he can resign with some degree of dignity and go back to doing whatever he did before we were asked to take him seriously.

Tim Farron. Twerp. His presence lends Corbyn gravitas.

Bloody hell, I'm sick to the back teeth of the entire shower already. 

Friday, 14 April 2017

This Caught My Eye

Apropos of my last blog, this is from John Bew's highly readable Attlee biography, Citizen Clem:
In other words, Attlee's instinctive and immediate response to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan was that Britain must have this weapon for itself. In a brutally realistic assessment, he came to the conclusion that there was no alternative. He had  heard a suggestion that, in a new Geneva Convention, all nations might agree to abstain from the use of the atomic bomb. Yet while gas was forbidden in the First World War it was still used. Indeed the British were quite prepared to use it on Germans if they had landed on British beaches in 1940. Attlee himself had been the minister responsible for stockpiling thousands of gallons of poison gas against this eventuality.
Nothing is truly simple. Happy Easter.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Asymmetric Warfare

In an early episode of The West Wing, the tyro President Bartlett agonises over military action and muses angrily that some day someone is going to have to explain to him the meaning of  a 'proportionate response". I wonder if the Donald was similarly vexed when ordering the air strikes on Syria. We can only pray so because one has to say that the world makes precious litle sense to anyone in these fractured times. Just why does the use of chemical weapons tip the balance of atrocity to one that demands western action? I'm only asking because it is not obvious to me. War is shitty, however one wages it - full stop.

If you press me I will shamingly concede that the American strikes make a warped sense in a warped world. We welcome America back to the world stage after it had been so poignantly vacated by Obama, vacated moreover in favour of a gangster like Putin. The trouble is, one wishes these decisions rested in hands more dextrous than Trump's.

Listening to now
But enough of all that. I'm listening to a bit of Belle and Sebastian as I write. One of Scotland's better exports. The other platters that have mattered recently have included Stevie Wonder's masterful Songs in the Key of Life. Why was that not in my advent countdown? I think you should demand a recount.

Have been listening to
I have decided to be pleased that Sergio Garcia won the Masters. I didn't back him (don't ask - I'm still mired in my losing streak) but in the final measuring it is nice to see a man wrestle with and defeat his demons. Never mind the birdies he made - best of all was the par he made from under a bush at the thirteenth. OG style golf one might say, only good. I wouldn't look good in a green blazer anyway. Not my colour. Mind you I do believe that my dear friend Big Will Macfarlane owns such a garment - a permanent reminder of his richly deserved captaincy of the Royal Chav (Cavendish Golf Club to the uninitiated). To re-coin an old phrase is, Big Willy is a man who looks good in anything - except clothes. Mind you I have seen him in the showers and you have to say he looks pretty rubbish in the buff as well. Too much information?

Talking of golf, the annual pilgrimage to Ireland hoves into view. Yet again I have thought long and hard and have solved the puzzle of how to be good at golf. I really have cracked it this time. I'd tell you but then I would have to kill you. On that very subject (golf not murder) I do seem to have been bombarded with junk mail informing me that the key to golfing success is to buy a wondrous new club called the GX7. All I have to do is part with $200 and success will be mine. Not bloody likely - I've had cars that cost less than that.     

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Learning Lines/Forgetting Lines

Be careful what you wish for. As I faced the second night of The Winslow Boy I had spoken of second night over-confidence. Well sure enough one line completely eluded me in the second act and there was no one to cover for me this time. The dreaded prompt was needed. Bollocks.

Nights three and four were, however, much better. Perfect would be a misnomer but at least I got a representation of every line out and into the play. A Good play. All in all a good run. Well knackered by its end.

A picture which should be seen
The world can seem a mad, bad place so there is much for people to get agitated about. But people seem drawn to misapplying their intelligence - read this for starters - Open Casket. The museum curator in this scary little story is, of course, one hundred percent correct.