2 May 2014

Just a game

Whatever I am, or was, and will be, there I was one day being carried around inside my skull by a big old body on the golf course beneath the green beauty of rolling hills, as my opponent drew his seven-wood back carefully, and then launched its club-face violently at the little golf ball whose 'Top-Flite 3' markings were the sole focus of his formidable powers of concentration.

'Ugh!' he grunted, with the strain engendered by the knowledge that to reach the green was a bit of a stretch. Full power required. But as happens so often with the golf swing the attempt at full power just brought along full-scale disaster. The unfortunate man looked up and watched in horror as the ball sliced violently to the right, towards the trees, through the trees, and was still rising through the cold early morning sky as it traversed the neighbouring railway line.

'Bloody, bloody hell!' he wailed, and then he turned and began to smash the wretched club against his golf bag. Violently. Once, twice, three times, while he screamed out 'Bad! Bad! Bad!' in synchrony with the blows.

'Oh dear,' I remarked somewhat cheekily as I looked again at my own little ball, safely parked quite near the hole on the distant green. I was also reflecting gratefully on the fact that although I have many faults I have always managed to avoid the one of getting angry about silly golf on a silly golf course. Disappointed? Often. Angry? Never.

'Oh dear,' I said again, but with a chuckle. This made me three-up in the match with only six holes played. A very satisfactory start.

Meanwhile my distressed opponent was rummaging about in a highly agitated manner deep within the pockets of his golf bag until he retrieved a disposable lighter, an old cigarette packet and discovered three of his odious 'cancer sticks' that had been left there from when he had given up, yet again, a few weeks earlier.

'I didn't know you were back on the fags,' I commented, as he hurriedly lit up.

'Well I am now!' he declared, with a bitter tone that implied that the whole world was to blame for his sudden return to nicotine addiction. Everyone and everything other than himself.

It was January, on the little planet Earth. In Gaza that day, my memory tells me that several rockets from the Hamas militia had streaked through the sky towards their random targets in Israel, while a precisely aimed Israeli bomb had smacked into a block of flats and killed one of the Hamas leaders, his several wives and many of his children. Other children plus some neighbours lay wounded and bleeding, missing several limbs among them.

In Melbourne, a red cricket ball had many times rolled into and then bumped across a boundary rope as visiting cricketers closed in on a test match victory, to the disappointment of most of the quiet spectators apart from a small group of visitors.

Around the world about two humans were dying each second, while a somewhat greater number were being born. And as usual over a thousand watts of the Sun's energy was bathing each daytime square metre of the rotating surface and kicking electrons out of chlorophyll molecules in the single most fundamental physical event that powers all life on Earth.

Soon, there were five holes to go in the golfing drama. The nicotine from three cigarettes had allowed my now more composed opponent to struggle back to level terms, and at the fourteenth green things were looking promising for him to take a lead. His ball had been placed nicely about five feet from the hole in two shots, while I had taken the same number to reach a nasty little hollow some yards off the putting surface.

'Oh. It's about time for me to pop one of these long ones in,' I joked, and then I proceeded to do just that as the ball landed ten feet away from the hole and then embarked on a long, slow and curving roll down the slope and into the cup after a momentary hesitation on the edge.

'Fucking, fucking hell,' said my adversary quietly, shaking his head but retaining his composure. He was not so bad or mad as to get violent in response to other people's good shots, just in response to his own rubbish. And he then narrowly missed his five foot putt, so we headed to the fifteenth tee with me one-up again and both of us in very different modes - him slow and slumped, me fast and jaunty. And while my next drive hit the fairway nicely, his headed on a wide curve through the trees, into a ploughed field beyond, and his golf bag received another battering.

So that was him two-down with only three holes still to play. At the next hole it was soon all over when my shot to the par three found the green, while his rolled too fast across the green and plopped into a nasty bunker. We soon shook hands for my 'three-up with two-to-play' victory, and quietly played out the final two holes with nothing at stake as we made our way back to the clubhouse.

'That's three wins in a row for me now,' I ungraciously pointed out.

'I know,' he said, grimly. 'I'm going to have to do something about this. I really am.'

And he soon did do something about it, as he stomped into a nearby shop and bought a shiny new packet of cigarettes, his day ruined, such was the seriousness with which he approached his recreation.

And in Gaza, more Hamas rockets were being readied, and in Israel more laser-guided bombs, and all around the world most people were engaged in battles of one form or another, either with others, or with themselves.


Elephant's Child said...


Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...


Did I hurt you?

That was (and is) never my intention.

Elephant's Child said...

Close to the bone. I wrestle (often) with just how insignificant my concerns are on a bigger scale. Which is odd, because I happily accept my own insignificance.

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

But they are very significant to you, as mine are to me, but their significance can often be adjusted by an adjustment of attitude, that being the skill I try to develop, (if a stiff drink doesn't work).

Claude said...

I stopped playing ping-pong at nursing school because I was always winning. It made me as unhappy as the ones who were losing.

Is the world happy? NO! Then, it should stop playing against one another.

Claude said...

Your essay is so well written.

I don't seem to find the right way to express my own thought.

Cela ne marche pas. Ne jouez plus, les uns contre les autres.

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

I understand Claude