At this impoverished institution, by-line, “Not a club between us” members from the whole of London gathered annually to sponge drinks off sympathetic passers-by and bore each other with tales of the finest shots they had ever played. There was that curious atmosphere which develops when the person you are talking to is not so much listening to your story as bursting to recount, in extended detail, the glowing tale of when, a mere thirty years ago, his seven iron shot sailed over the trees and landed within two feet of the hole on the fifteenth.
Topics of conversation where limited to well-played shots, clubs we had played, and our “Caddies,” which in this case normally meant the wives. Naturally there were female members of the club, but women generally being more sensible in the longer term than men, had not reduced themselves to boasting before a bored audience in the same quantities as the misguided sex.
Brian Parks was the treasurer, whose duties were confined to saying “I’m the treasurer,” there being no actual funds to manage. Correspondence was conducted largely by email, with only Christmas cards being sent by traditional means on account of cost. Brian was treasurer because, as well as being a bankrupt who lived with his daughter and her diminishing patience, he was also a man with a constant stream of ideas all guaranteed to place him among the wealthy within a matter of days.
As tales of balls sailing over trees, against the wind, round obstacles, all revealing the forgotten talents of the story tellers began to die down, Brian announced his latest plan. “I’ve applied to be the golfing professional at St Andrews” he said, which course, many of us know, enjoys a world-wide reputation. Heads shook in disbelief, and the ability of a man to distance himself from his circumstances by applying delusion, conceit or a poor grasp of realities came home again to his bewildered fellow members.
“Many of the new and younger members at top clubs are scared to apply for coaching from the normal professionals and I realise they need the help of a more accessible talent to help them get to the first base without being intimidated,” he informed his bewildered chums. “What talent is that?” said Fred Ramsey, who may have held a grudge against the treasurer on account of being trounced at the polls by Brian earlier in the year when the post became vacant. The previous treasurer had inherited some funds from an uncle in America and thus become ineligible for membership. He was missed, of course, but still attended on occasion to buy a round of drinks and flaunt his good fortune in front of his former comrades.
“I never mastered the five iron” admitted Brian, “But my putting was pretty good if I say so myself” “No one else would” said Fred Ramsey. There was a sourness about him which might well give a clue as to why he didn’t win the treasurer’s position. If we were to advise him, we might tell him not to apply for the job as junior-professional at St Andrews Golf Club, either because his tired ego might not be able to handle any further rejection or, at eighty-four, his swinging days were well behind him.