Still Looking for the Evidence

arnoldpalmercelticmanor

Arnold Palmer golfing in Wales (well, the best example I could find)

I have 2 characteristics I am addicted to  keen to combine. These are the reading of biographies and stories of the great golfers and Welsh golf courses. For some strange reason I find it fascinating to discover reports, photos of great players visiting our tiny country.

There have been may instances, of course, of golfing Legends to Wales – Tiger Woods at Royal Porthcawl for the Walker Cup in 1995. Walter Hagen playing at exhibition match on the same course in 1933.

Having read about Arnold Palmer’s upcoming book – ‘A Life Well Played’ –  I decided to focus my research on a true golfing hero and find if Mr Palmer had ever played in Wales. I looked and looked. Unfortunately, I could find no record of this but I will keep looking. He must have done mustn’t he?

The closest I could find was a visit by Arnold to Celtic Manor in May 2009 where he was the guest at the KPMG sixth annual Golf Business Forum.

It was interested to note that the address made by AP was quite prophetic for the time –

As a seven-time Ryder Cup veteran and former captain, Mr Palmer commented on the Ryder Cup coming to Wales in 2010. He said: “The Celtic Manor Resort will be a wonderful venue for the Ryder Cup. Conditions will make it very interesting for the players and the spectators. The American team better start thinking about the conditions they are likely to face in Wales as they will have to work very hard to win.”

He also prophesied – “I am very much in favour of golf becoming an Olympic sport. I don’t think we can comprehend what it would mean to the game. From any angle, what it will bring to business, and the wider public interest it will create, it is almost mind-boggling what the impact would be.” Which has, of course, come true recently.

I would doubt that this little trip to Wales will make his book but I am hoping that there may be an opportunity one day to see the great man and his remarkable swing, or even more remarkable to encounter his fiercely competitive, but sporting, character. Now, if someone out there can find some evidence that he has played here at some time in the past. That would be interesting and would go on my list alongside Tiger Woods and Walter Hagen.

Who knows there may even be a story in Arnold’s new book ……….

a-life-well-played-cover-image

 

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The Unbelievable History of Golf at the Olympics

georgelyon

George Lyon – hero

The 1904 Olympics at St Louis hosted a bizarre golf tournament that was, unsurprisingly, the last time it was held until this year.

It was very, very strange state of affairs. There was a team competition and an individual competition – both only open to men.

For the team competition 6 teams of 10 entered. Unfortunately, only 2 turned up. A makeshift team of 10 was put together at the last minute and there was a contest of 3 teams. Team USA was first. Team USA was second and Team USA was also third.

The individual event however involved international competition for the USA in the form of Canada. The Canadians had 3 representatives. The USA had 74.  Soon the Canadians had only one – George Lyon. George took on the USA and a legend was born. George won.  The USA did well in the other medal places however and took the silver and 2 bronzes. There was no women’s competition

There was a women’s competition at the previous Olympics. However, it was such a similar disaster you would be inclined to believe it was organised by the same people – it wasn’t. It was held in France alongside the men’s event. The men’s event was a 36-hole competition – the women were allowed 9 whole holes.  The winner was Margaret Abbott with a score of 47. Her mother came seventh, with a score of 65. Margaret never knew she had won a gold medal throughout the rest of her lfe.

Most of the competitors for the women’s and the men’s competitions simply never realised they were competing at the Olympic games. They somehow believed it was just another tournament. These particular Olympic Games were spread out over 6 months and with limited internet access they had no idea that (in someone’s head at least) all the competitions were joined up.

Ignoring the lessons of the past 2 competitions, in 1908 the London Olympic Games committee decided that they would hold a golf tournament. However, the organising committee (English) and the Royal and Ancient (Scottish) first ignored each other, then argued with each other to such a degree that they received practically no entries.

No one told George however who sailed from Canada to England to defend his title.

He was offered a symbolic golf medal but George – man that he was, ‘sport is a gentlemanly affair, and I will only accept an award having won it through proper competition.

My new book of golf essays – ‘Putting is a Game of Self-Torture’ is available now on Amazon.

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Interview with Author of ‘Putting is a Form of Self-Torture’ (“laugh? I thought I would never start”)

putting

Tell me about your new book ‘Putting is a Form of Self-Torture’ available via your website (www.byronkalies.com) or the following Amazon link – ( https://www.amazon.co.uk/Putting-Form-Self-Torture-Collection-Articles/dp/1533538247) ?

I’m glad, and not a little surprised that you asked. The book is a collection of my best golf writing over the past 6 years. It’s a slim volume (that is a joke). It’s a 16 volume set (still joking). It’s a book with around 60 short articles looking at Welsh golf courses, stories from a mythical Welsh golf club, instruction and a great number of ‘diverse’ articles based on my experiences playing golf in Wales.

What has been the local reaction to your new book by members at your club – Bargoed Golf Club?

It has been underwhelming, to be honest. Isn’t there a saying about a prophet not being appreciated in his own land? Well, a golf writer is not appreciated in Bargoed Golf Club, that’s for sure. The Captain reviewed it – free copy – and commented “Not bad. I liked the bit about Bradley Dredge, but it does go about golf a lot doesn’t it?”

I had to admit that the golf book did go on a bit about golf. Last Saturday when I didn’t have any money on me (penniless writer) to pay my £1 for the Ball School – (we all put £1 in and the winner takes all). I offered to give the winner (Pensioner Dave) a signed copy of my book (RRP £8) instead. He passed with a “give me the £1 next week if you like.”

Sorry to hear that. What about in the larger cultural world?

It’s been a pretty similar story really. The top golfing magazine ‘Golf Today International Bunkered World’ and the ‘Caerphilly Herald’ both started serialising the book. After 2 weeks both had received so much abuse and threats from their readers to boycott the magazines that they stopped printing it. I was allowed to see some of the criticism from the readers –

“You’re no Dan Jenkins.” Someone claimed. This was the only comment I took to be positive as I regard Mr Jenkins as a right wing, stuck in the Victorian age, racist nob.

“Laugh? I thought I would never start.”

“About as funny as the ‘R & A Complete Rules of Golf’

“I had to read this book because my uncle told me to. It was the worst thing I ever read. A worthless good for nothing piece of junk! Actually it is good for something. I took this book with me to rifle practice and I shot at this instead of the target. I got busted but hey it was worth it. Mail me if you want a picture of my shooting.“

“Attempting to read this book is worse than watching the grass grow. At least the grass will become something you enjoy. The title of the story intrigued me to read it. Don’t get me wrong, if well-written, this book could be very interesting. But even after just ten pages, the only thought going through my mind was “When will this guy shut up and stop talking about golf???”

“I hate it. So boring. I fell asleep at the first page.”

“Not so hot; phony intellectuals are told this is a great work so they make up all sorts of lies about layering and craftsmanship, when it’s really just a so-so book about golf.”

“Once I put it down, I just couldn’t pick it up again.”

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Mynydd Brawdafad Golf Club

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David Lloyd George with guests (including original cast members of Pobol Y Cwm and the Likely Lads) at the initial Captain’s drive in ceremony – note club had affiliation with Llanfrechfa fishing club and president on right is carrying the ceremonial rod

Brawdafad is a tough course, in a tough part of the world. The land was bought in early 1921 (year of the acquittal of Harold Greenwood, birth of Dick Francis, 6-5 win for Wales rugby team in Paris) and a few short weeks later was opened. A report from the local newspaper makes fascinating reading;

“At the opening ceremony Captain Mr. P. Dave asked Dr Gwyn T. Bara, Chairman of the club to declare the course open. Dr Bara, their enthusiastic and highly efficient chairman was presented with a wonderful weapon, a golf driver, with which to drive a mighty ball from the first tee (laughter and applause). He thanked the lady and gentlemen of the committee for honouring him by asking him to open the course. He referred to the early beginnings of the club and its uphill struggles and said that were it not for the generosity of a local businessman, Mr. D. S. Snips (snr.) of Aber Annwyd the club would never have reached its present state (enthusiastic applause).

Dr Gwyn T. Bara explained that the situation reminded him of a remark Mr Ramsay Macdonald, the ex-premier made that ‘Golf is to me what his Sabine farm was to the poet Horace – a solace and an inspiration.’ (embarrassed silence). Dr Bara duly took the first hit on the course and hooked it through the clubhouse window.” The first club captain David Lloyd George then took over proceedings and in his own words “It’s time to get the party started”.

Brawdaf and Annwyd Valley Express Monday June 27th 1921

The club was bombed during the Second World War by a rather wayward squadron of German bomber. It was reported after the war that with all the bomb damage the course had never looked better.

It is a mountain course. It is rough and rugged and sheep-lined. It must be pretty much how many early Scottish courses looked. However, not many early Scottish courses were built alongside council estates. There is a scarcity of land at Brawdafad and every inch of the ground is used. It feels like someone has placed a full size snooker table in a small lounge. Each tee seems to be against a fence and at times it seems that you’ve barely enough room to take a full backswing.

The rough is very rough. Pensioner Dave once sliced a drive into the rough off the sixth tee and against all our advice went chasing after it. He disappeared from view for a good few minutes. Feeling slightly anxious we called out to him;

“Pensioner Dave have you found your ball?” we called.
“Not yet,” came the reply, “But I have found a golf bag and a set of clubs.”

Extract from Collection of golf articles – ‘Putting is a Form of Self-Torture’ now available – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Putting-Form-Self-Torture-Collection-Articles/dp/1533538247/

 

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In Defence of the High Handicapper

banditbw

“Yes my handicap is 24. My certificate? This is my certificate.”

I’m standing on the first tee at the Rolls of Monmouth. I’m preparing to hit the first shot of the annual equivalent of the ‘jolly boys’ outing’.
This is our end of the year ‘winter bash’. We use this as the motivation for those dark, dingy, tough, early Saturday morning rounds. Pensioner Dave saves our £2.50 a week for this reward. The Rolls of Monmouth is the hidden secret that everyone in South Wales knows about. It’s the end of year treat, the equivalent of Christmas, birthday and anniversary all rolled into one. The Rolls in fantastic. Most courses in South Wales, with the exception of Celtic Manor, are claustrophobic. There is the valley feeling of crampedness. Perhaps it’s to do with the shape of the valleys. Whatever the reason there is limited space as tees and greens are pushed back to the edges and corners of the course. It feels like having a full sized snooker table in your one bed flat. There’s the feeling of not being able to swing properly, as if your hands will be out of bounds on your backswing.

The Rolls of Monmouth has space. The Rolls of Monmouth has lots and lots of space. The Rolls of Monmouth has far too much space. Even the name has too much space. It’s nerve racking. It’s almost agoraphobic to a Welsh valleys golfer like me – but in a nice way. I remember the same feeling as a small child going to Porthcawl for a week’s holiday (the caravan park, not the golf course) and was amazed at the size of the beaches and the fresh air.)

I digress. On the tee at the spacious Rolls of Monmouth I prepare to tee off. As a high handicap it’s all abuse –
“Look at this swing.”
“21! He’s off 21? God his practice swing looks like it’s off scratch.”
“He’s wearing a hat. Shouldn’t it be a sombrero?”
“El bandito.”
My bottom is twitching like a trout’s mouth as I try to smile, without looking too confident, or too put off. Unfortunately, I then hit a great drive straight up the middle.
“Cut him.”
“I played with the handicap sec once and hit a shot like that off the first and by the ninth I was cut three shots. Bandit.”
I sheepishly make my way back to my bag and begin my round amidst mumblings and grumblings.

High handicappers get far too much grief. It’s like Learner drivers – regular drivers forget they had to learn once. The worst offenders are the middle handicappers. As a high handicapper you may have to give them half a shot a hole, but for that privilege you get grief if you hit a tee shot straight. You get abuse for hitting an approach shot on the green and practical decapitation for holing any putt over six feet. The air shots, miscues and slices are conveniently ignored. Low handicappers seem to be less bothered and more understanding. I wonder why? Generally, they’ve played longer and seen everything – seen 28 handicappers score eagles and seen scratch handicapper miss nine inch putts.

Still, I have a fantastic morning – get cut two shots for scoring thirty-seven points in the morning, In the afternoon I play like a polar bear wearing boxing gloves that are too big for him.

We convene to the bar as it starts to get dark and talk, and tease and exaggerate and everyone goes away happy… roll on next year.

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SLOW PLAY – 2 THOUGHTS

slow-play

Slow Play is not a recent phenomenon. In an essay from 1934 on ‘The People in Front’ –you know who you are – Bernard Darwin describes them …….

“They waggle for hours; they stroll rather than walk; they dive into their monstrous bags for the right club, and then it is the wrong number, but they are not sorry that we have been troubled. Their putting is a kind of funereal ping-pong. We could forgive them all this tricks, from which we are conspicuously free, if it were not for the absurd punctilio with which they observe the rules. They will insist on waiting for the people in front when it must be palpable even to their intellects that the best shot they ever hit in their lives would  be fifty yards short.”

The final word on slow play.. a sign that will…encourage people to play quicker…

signslowplay

 

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Golfing In The Comfort Zone

comfortzone

To change anything, or to learn anything (which is essentially change anyway) is uncomfortable. There are a number of well-worn phrases that people trot out to remind you of this – “Growth demands a temporary surrender of security”, “If you’re not churning, you’re not learning.”  I know this. It doesn’t make is much easier.

A useful tool I came across with this one is the Comfort Zone model. On the inside is the Comfort Zone. The doughnut next ring is the Discomfort Zone and the Learning Zone is around the outside. It does reinforce that it’s uncomfortable to learn anything new. It means that to get to the Learning Zone you have to get through the Discomfort Zone. There are no short cuts or tunnels. However, it does give you hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

So, I took my trip into the ‘Discomfort Zone’. I booked for some lessons. It was uncomfortable. I turned up alongside the fearless youngsters and brand new starters and felt very out of place. I’d been trapped in that comfort zone for too long. My grip was comfortable. My stance was comfortable yet they were so wrong. I knew if I held the club this way I could more or less guarantee it would be straight – not very long but straight. Now I’m being told to discard all those comfortable feelings and start again. It really did feel uncomfortable and very, very tempting to go back to the old way.

I learnt that there are no short cuts or secret passages across the discomfort zone. We all know that. We know that all the teaching aids, special balls, magic golf clubs don’t work – or at least they don’t work on their own. We’ve all seen (or bought) that expensive set of aluminium, alloy, enhanced, cavity-backed, nickel platted, NASA designed golf set and stood next to a twelve years old with basically a long metal stick and seen them hit their tee shot thirty yards further than us.

What did help me though was some wise words I had picked up from a colleague a long time ago about this stress and anxiety. “Anxiety isn’t pain” he assured me,” It’s the anticipation of pain.”

True enough. The most anxious and stressful times for me has been the waiting for something to start – the dentists, the job interview, waiting by the first tee. Once the event kicks off the stress diminishes a great deal.

“The trick”, he continued, “is to live in the here and now” (he was a bit of an old hippie), but very true. If you concentrate on what you’re doing before a stressful event – eating, preparing, practising, and try to concentrate fully on that you’ll save yourself a fair amount of stress.

So I’m taking the lessons. I’m staying in the ‘here and now’ and things are starting to improve. Not as quickly as I’d like, of course and I do feel that I’m living most of my life in the discomfort zone but… in a perverse way I’m starting to enjoy it.

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Muirfield Golf Club / Peter Alliss -Really?

In the light of the recent Muirfield Golf Club decision to not allow women to join, and Peter Alliss’ helpful suggestions, I have revived this article from almost exactly 4 years ago. How times have changed.

bushinjeans

You wouldn’t get in my club with those jeans Mr Bush

DRESS SENSE – A ONE WORD QUESTION

Look through the lists blow (not drawn from a remote, Southern United States Country Club, an English Home Counties club, nor a Colonial backwater from the Victorian era) and if anyone can give me a satisfactory, sensible, non-sexist, non-offensive, non-elitist, answer to one question I’ll eat my large, indiscrete Nike-logoed, backward-worn baseball cap.

Ready….… the one-word question is ‘Why?’

“ Dress Code:
Women (all ages)
Conservative, tailored slacks, golf skirts, shorts
Socks should be knee high or no more than two inches above the ankle

Men (all ages)
Tailored slacks or Bermuda shorts
Shirts with both a collar and sleeves and tucked in at all times
Socks should be knee high or no more than two inches above the ankle

Prohibited dress;
Denim apparel in all colours,
Racer backs, tank tops or halters,
Front of shirt must not descend below the collar bone,
Bare midriffs in standing position,
Large or indiscrete logos are not acceptable,
Cargo pants with buckles and ties,
Stirrup pants,
Warm-up suits,
Pull-on drawstring shorts/slacks,
Skirts / shorts that are more than five inches above the knee or less than 18 inches when measured from the bottom of the waistband,
Hats worn backwards.“

I love the sport of golf. However, I detest the nonsense that goes on around it. I don’t think I’m on my own.

Ask potential golfers that can’t afford the extortionate rates to join a club. This is assuming their face fits and they are allowed to part with their money.
We should be grateful, I suppose, that this isn’t as bad as it used to be. There used to be a time when you needed a 5 year wait, a thousand pound joining fee and a Masonic handshake to get into a golf club. We’ve moved on from that.

This is true. However, I’d like to believe the reason we’ve moved on is due to an enlightened attitude in the Committee room. I suspect though that it’s more to do with the recession and the current economic climate.

Ask women or juniors who frequently get shoved to an odd afternoon in the middle of the week or a few unsociable hours on the weekend when the men have finished their rounds and are in the bar.

However, all is not doom and gloom. There are exceptions. Not too many, but there are exceptions. The Celtic Manor 2010 Club, as I understand it has no different times for men, women or juniors on the 2010 course. Membership is the same for all and there is no discrimination of any sort. Fantastic and a role model to other clubs. Unfortunately, you need to pay £6,000 to buy fair treatment. Why wouldn’t all golf clubs do this? Answer on a postcard to the usual address.

I can hear some of you whingeing from here. Yes, I know many clubs don’t have specific times for anyone – men, women or juniors – but really. Ask any junior who tries to get on the course on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Ask any woman who tries to get on the course at any time. Even if they manage to get on the course they are subject to mild, ‘playful’ harassment about how long they take, etc. etc..

Let’s go back to the nonsense that is symbolic of the attitude of golf clubs – the dress code. Now I believe there are occasions where you need a dress code – deep sea diving for instance, working in a nuclear power plant or being a catalogue model. These professions will require a certain standard of clothing and rightly so. I get that.

What I can’t quite grasp is the fact that I pay thousands of pounds, well hundreds, to spend my sparse and valuable leisure time being told what to wear. I’m not sure I’m keen on that. I don’t have this down the pub, in my lounge or in my garden. So what is it all about?

The dress code is so, so nonsensical. It’s a trip to an older, happier time when men dressed properly, there was respect, good manners, child poverty, a life expectancy of twenty-eight and women knew their place. For instance – Why can’t you wear a comfortable tee-shirt? Why can’t you wear jeans to play golf?

Let’s look at the argument-
Denim / tee-shirts / etc.. look scruffy.

On at least 2 levels this argument is nonsense –

  1. to most people under the age of 80 they don’t look scruffy and
    2. so what?

Let’s not even get into the argument of jeans being more expensive that trousers and whilst a £300 pair of True Religion jeans are deemed unacceptable, a twenty years old pair of scruffy, worn-out trousers is somehow perfectly acceptable. Let’s go straight for the ‘so what?’

Why on earth does it matter is someone’s shirt isn’t tucked in, or the shorts aren’t tailored, or the jeans are scruffy. You aren’t going to have tea with the Queen (although I’ve a few thoughts on that one). You’re playing a game. A game involving grass, mud, water, rain, etc… It’s supposed to be fun. Which does not mean everyone must wear jeans. I don’t want to tell you what to wear. It’s supposed to be pleasure.

In my own, personal, golf club the dress code would say; ‘Be Comfortable. Keep Warm. Don’t wear anything that could upset anyone else.’  I would not be bothered if your shorts were 6 inches above the knee or your socks were three inches above your ankle (what is that one all about?). It’s a game – enjoy yourself.

I suspect the reason undlying the dress code is a wealth of old twaddle concerning class, Victorian values and often just plain prejudice and elitism around golf clubs (or tradition as some would deem it). Why do we take our hats off and shake hands on the eighteenth? It’s tradition. Why do golf courses have eighteen holes? It’s tradition. Why don’t we have any women or juniors on our committees to make decisions unless they’re in a ‘secretarial’ capacity or are there basically as observers with no real voting power? It’s tradition.

Now I’m not an anti-traditionalist myself. I quite like the ‘hats off and hand shaking’ thing but I can’t really say I’m a fan of any institution where a handful of like-minded, similarly educated, similarly dressed sixty – seventy year old middle-class, professional men make all the decisions on when I can play, who I can play with and what I’m allowed to wear based on an archaic set of values that are deemed ‘proper’.

Oh, and sometime soon the argument will crop us, “Well what would happen if everybody behaved like you and wore what they liked and didn’t take their hats off when they walked into the bar?” I have a well-thought out succinct argument for that too, “Nothing would happen. Let people keep their hats on in the club if they wanted to. Why on earth would it matter?”

It’s tradition. So on that basis let’s keep a gang of small children around the back of the clubhouse and wheel a few out to carry our golf clubs and tee up for us for a few pence each round. Also let’s keep women out of the bar or stop blacks and other minorities playing golf altogether. These have been some of the traditions of golf clubs in the (not too distant) past.

Most members are glad some of these traditions have disappeared but seem to have trouble fighting the subtler nuances of discrimination and personal freedom………
Or is it that somewhere deep down many men still want to cling to those Victorian values where they were obeyed?

So perhaps the recession has been a good thing in this one respect. Golf clubs are becoming more open about membership. It’s often a matter of survival these days – hopefully this will survive even if there’s a financial upturn. Perhaps not. For the sake of fairness and equality let’s hope this recession is here to stay

Note – The dress code list comes from ‘The Ladies Golf Club of Toronto’ which describes itself as ‘A Classic Club for Contemporary Women’.

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School Reunion – I’m sorry I can’t be with you tonight…

reunion

….. but I’m afraid I’ve still got the teeniest, tiniest part of self-esteem and self-respect left. I’ve also realised, albeit belatedly, that I have limited time left on this planet. No, no I’m not terminally ill or anything – just getting older, practically by the minute.

But a reunion – really? I know that, for some people, it’s fun to see what’s happened to people they knew forty years ago. Some people love to listen to the heartaches and the tears, the joy of children brought into the world and sadly those who didn’t make it. They love to compare where you go on holiday, why you left your last job, how you ended up in Guantanamo Bay on a misunderstanding. But honestly – it’s not for me. I’m fifty-nine years old now and if there’s one thing life has taught me in those fifty-nine years is that I do not want to be stranded like some Robinson Crusoe / Victor Meldrew character on an island for several hours (which seems like several lifetimes) with people I have chosen, yes chosen, not to contact for a very, very good reason, for two thirds of my life. I really, really don’t need to be shown photos or videos of holidays, wives, husbands, cleaners, gardeners, children, homes, second homes, holiday homes, ‘the nice yurt we spent three months in when we ‘found ourselves’ in Turkmenistan’, cars, caravans, mid-life crisis motor bikes, pot-bellied pigs, cats or dogs – on the latest ipad, iphone 7 or Huawei P9 (Max).

I’m too old and too stubborn to willingly submit to that “hello, you haven’t changed at all” handshake. The thought of staring at someone trying desperately to think of an answer to an interrogation on the values of your life that begins with questions such as “So, what do you do now?”, “Are you married?”, “How did you find the food in prison?”,”Didn’t you used to be Byron Kalies?” or “Shit, what happened to your hair?” feels me with fifty shades of dismay.

I would like to say I’m too busy. I would like to say that I’m busy that evening on a bender with Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jack Nicholson and Woody Allen drinking, doing drugs and chasing women in a downtown bar in Port Talbot. I would like to say that, but that couldn’t possibly be true – I’m not allowed back in Port Talbot after the incident involving Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in the summer of 1986.

No, I’ll be at home – watching Coronation Street with the best company I could ever imagine – myself. Yes, you were right all along – “He was an egotistical, self-centred bastard forty years ago and he’s an egotistical self-centred bastard today.”

To be completely honest I do have one regret. I would have happily turned up if I could be assured that you are all fatter, more miserable, unluckier and poorer than me. If it could be guaranteed that at least half of you have only been released from prison for the day, and the rest of you have had to borrow the money for bus fare from your current probation officer. Alas, I know that it would be practically impossible for any of you to be on a lower social standing than myself.  My dream was to be a writer. I am a prolific writer who last book sold fewer copies than Linda Wright’s ‘Toilet Paper Origami’ and Brugemmeier, Cioc and Zeller’s seminal work ,’How Green Were the Nazi’s’ combined.

I’m sure I have some hilarious stories and happy memories of school somewhere. There is a place deep, deep in my subconscious where  memories exist of midnight feasts, Defence against the Dark Arts lessons, Olly asking for ‘more’ and jolly pranks throwing first years off the roof. However, I’m struggling desperately to remember the difference between Pontllanfraith Grammar Technical School, Greyfriars and Hogwarts. I do remember all the boys at school being taller than me, more handsome than me and having better haircuts than me. I also remember every one of the girls scaring the shit out of me. I assume none of that has changed. I certainly haven’t.

So it is with great reluctance that I really, truly, deeply, honestly, genuinely and sincerely can’t be arsed to travel the three and a quarter miles from my house to the pub to wallow in glorious memories of dorm raids, tuck shops, six of the best, quidditch and picking up the ball, running with it and inventing the game of rugby. Honestly, I remember practically nothing of my time at school. I remember vaguely there being teachers, walls, windows, bells ringing, floors, shoes, people with heads, chairs, unhappiness and frustration. Nowadays at the best of times I have a memory like a … oh you know, what do you call it. I barely remember my cat’s name now so the thought of trying to guess, give up, ask and then remember the names of people from four fifths of a century ago just seems like too much bloody hard work. I don’t do hard work anymore.

All the best and I do hope you have fantastic evening on this very important n (insert number here) th year of some memorable event. I won’t be able to make it this year, and probably next year, and quite possibly the year after, and so on and so on. However, please feel free to contact me for the oak anniversary.

Grumpily yours

Byron

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Machynys / Tees / West Mon

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May 8, 2016 · 7:56 am