I have a school friend who ended up living in a coastal town in North County Dublin. A fellow exile we meet about four times a year for dinner and exchange of news and views. We always meet in town but it was summertime and I said that I would drive out to Skerries and go for dinner there. It was a Wednesday, which is daring and I felt like I was on holidays as we went for a walk on the beach and then out for dinner in a lovely new restaurant in the town which I can truly recommend if you find yourself in that part of the world.
Michael has been doing a tennis course for the past fortnight with mild reluctance but a certain degree of resignation. This has spurred us all to take a greater interest and for the past fortnight, most evenings we’ve gone up to the local courts to play doubles (herself is off at camp so not available). It’s good fun and somewhat justifies under the stairs which has an extraordinary quantity of sporting equipment for a not very sporty family.
I brought my mother’s spare golf clubs to Dublin after she died. My brother took out the putter on the grounds that it was a special putter made for her in some golf club in Limerick and we might lose it. We managed to make good the deficit by taking a putter from my father-in-law’s old clubs and also the husband of one of my mother’s old friends. His son lives up the road from us and his wife and son came and dropped us down a spare putter and we sent them off with a pot of jam. After all the effort, I felt we ought to use them, so Michael and I went out to a small local pitch and putt course. As you know, I am a big fan of the bike but, let me tell you, that there is no easy way to carry golf clubs on a bike, even if it’s only a pair of putters and a couple of nine irons. Anyhow we made it. The club was deserted and initially we were refused admittance on the grounds that it was members only. I offered to pay green fees and my knowledge of this technical terms softened their hearts towards me. “Did we have our own clubs?” Oh yes indeed, though I forgot to bring tees, like a fool. However, they made good this deficit.
I went to the first hole to tee off. I used to play a bit in my teens but I would say it’s 35 years since I raised a club. I had a practice shot. The three elderly gentlemen came out from the shed to have a look at me play. I was a bit unnerved. However, all those hours spent practicing in front of the bored and indifferent club pro with other teenagers came back to me and I was pleased and surprised to see the ball loft up into the air and land squarely on the green. The men said, “Good shot,” and shuffled off about their business.
Michael teed up and sent the ball scudding along the fairway (such as it was) but, as he pointed out, he was nearly as close to the hole as me and it was his first time ever playing. Pitch and putt is not challenging. And that’s the way we like it. Later one of the elderly gentlemen asked me if I’d like to play on their team. I have arrived, I never want to go back to proper golf. When I offered to pay green fees at the end, the elderly gentlemen waved me aside and told me that it was on the house. Very pleasing.
We were cycling along beside the canal last Saturday as part of our summer of sport extravaganza, threading our way through crowds of GAA fans heading to Croke Park. I ran into my cousin with her husband and three little boys marching determinedly towards the stadium. She is from Limerick and has Meath children but they were all dutifully dressed up in their Limerick kit. So far their loyalties are relatively undivided as it’s going to be a while before Meath challenge anyone in the hurling. Alas, Kilkenny defeated Limerick by a point so not a great day out for them in the end I imagine.
We had a barbecue at the cousins’ house. It lashed rain and we all huddled indoors while my brother-in-law cooked burgers outside sheltered from the elements by his aunt who held a large golf umbrella over his head. The boys went down to the tennis club and got soaked to the skin. A successful outing which my brother-in-law is minded to repeat the August bank holiday weekend.
How’s your own summer going?