After all these years, I’m finally tied to a desk! Not any old desk, though, and not in an office – God forbid – but my beautiful ‘new’ old antique mahogany desk positioned in front of the double doors in my bedroom overlooking the little garden below. It is perfect. I have my books around me, photographs and my little Chime for Wine bell. No longer bent over my little table by the window, my Hunchback of Notre Dame impersonation, as I struggle to get up after hours nose down, is finally consigned to history. Just thought I’d paint the picture. To think all my future bestsellers shall be ‘penned’ at this lovely piece … Definitely a Must Have which I got So Right!
I should mention that, as I write, St Andrews is hostage to The 150th Open. The world and his mother (still allowed to use that pronoun, let alone ‘mother’?!) have descended on the historic ‘little’ town which, I might add, has been preparing for the event since the beginning of time! Every road re-surfaced, they have been building the stands and village for months. Believe me, I watched it all – and listened to it – on my morning walks on the beach. The same beach to which I have no access to now – well, by car. The road is closed to locals and forget walking down past the 18th and what was once the famous – and beloved – Woollen Mill. Unless one has paid £100 +, I believe, for a ticket, then one will see nothing. Then there’s the question of restaurants and bars … I drove into town earlier today to find pavements streaming with people; roads filled with people, a total disregard for vehicles. There is not a parking place to be had. Expected? Yes. However, what is unacceptable is that the Old Course and Rusacks hotels are closed to the public. Mastercard have claimed both, apparently, including The Jigger Inn. Restaurants and bars are not taking bookings, leaving one to take one’s chances with the crowd, and, what’s more, the Old Course gym is also closed to members. Paying members! No apology, no word of compensation, just a statement …
Indicative of the world today, it’s all about showing the money. How hideous! Growing up, it was nothing like this. Yes, the town was packed but there was no segregation according to one’s bank balance. I was working at the Woollen Mill in the summer of ’78 when Jack Nicklaus won but who could forget 1984 and Seve? No topping that! The crowds were everywhere but there were no restrictions. I have no idea of the cost of a ticket back then but I know one could buy one at ‘the gate’ if one so chose. However, there were plenty who just lined the fence on the little road adjacent to the 18th – or found a prime spot on a wall. ‘These images are going round the world …’. The unforgettable words of the unforgettable Peter Alliss as a young Seve made his way up towards the final green to a cheering crowd, basked in sunshine. It was a glorious day. Seve, the most beloved player, was happiness personified, a moment etched in history forever more. His greatest triumph, he would claim, that photograph of him punching the air is iconic. Owned by the Seve Ballesteros Foundation, it cannot be freely used but it is safely stored in my memory, regardless – and in anyone’s visiting the downstairs loo as my elusive canvas of said moment sits directly above!
A completely different Open all those years ago. Inclusive. The excitement around the town was tangible and the mood was upbeat and celebratory as the sun beamed down on the most beautiful of canvases. Money didn’t talk back then. The game and the prestige were uppermost. In fact, I have just learned that Seve’s prize money as the Open Champion of 1984 was £50,000! Today, they are ‘playing’ for in excess of £2 million … and there’s the rub. Mastercard, Amex etc own the town for the week as the helicopters and small planes fly, continuously, overhead taking those with the fattest cheque books (yes, I know, consigned to the museum along with dictionaries and all writing material) back and forward to their luxury hotels or private planes. I wonder what Pop would have made of it all – for all of a second! A proud member of the R&A – in the days when it was worthy, abhorring the corporate – he rarely went to The Open. He hated nothing more than crowds, preferring to watch it all from the comfort of his armchair. How he loved it, though, and I can still picture – and hear him, animatedly shouting in both excitement and despair. Happy days.
Meanwhile, my walks on the beach – morning or evening – sun glistening on the water as it rises or sinks, have been rudely curtailed. One cannot drive along and the entire stretch of grass is an assigned car park, the media at ‘my end’. Of course, I could walk from the town to ‘my end’ but I am my father’s daughter. I crave my own space and solitude, alone with nature. In a world, sadly, enslaved to money, for now, I shall wait.
Returning from Wimbledon, I had so much to write but the days march rapidly on. While SW19 remains a highlight of our year, on this occasion, something surpassed it. Thursday – traditionally women’s day – is traditionally our day of rest from the tennis! Instead, we do something special in London. This time, I had booked tickets for Mad House at the Ambassadors Theatre in the evening. A new play by the award-winning writer, Theresa Rebeck, it stars Bill Pullman and David Harbour and centres on the drama which ensues when one sibling returns to his childhood home to look after his dying father and the other two descend in a bid for their inheritance. ‘A family reunion. Time to pay your last disrespects.’ is the advertising caption. In total awe! Frighteningly relatable, it was an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish. Full of humour and pathos, it captured human nature at its best and its devastating worst. A mirror to us all … The acting was second to none in a tiny theatre which seats only 444, 251 in the stalls. How privileged were we? A standing ovation was inevitable after two and a half hours of brilliance. As we left, a crowd gathered at the Stage Door and both David Harbour and Bill Pullman – swoon! – came out to sign autographs and, briefly, pose for photographs. Totally lovely, both – of course – the crowd dispersed, every one of us inspired by a play and a performance second to none; together, tugging at every heart string – and then some! There is nothing more worthy of my Seriously Good! page. To follow.
So, families and human nature … A subject close to my heart and, having watched The Real Mo Farah on Wednesday night, one about which I have much to say. My next post … However, yesterday, I came face-to-face with the rotten side of human nature. I do think that there are goodies and baddies in this life: those who consider the feelings of others above their own and, conversely, those who care only about themselves. ‘No man is an island’ (John Donne). There is nothing more true – nor more disregarded. Suffice to say, I learned the truth about an old family friend yesterday. Nothing I hadn’t suspected – nor about which I hadn’t been warned – but still sad, just the same. Self-worth, however, reigns supreme and, while I feel contempt, there is also pity. Honesty, loyalty and trust are never negotiable … The moral of the story? Always listen to Pop! Sage to the end – and a superb judge of character.
‘The only people I owe my loyalty to are those who never made me question theirs.’
This is Trish, signing off.