• Author:Ben Jones
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From the sublime to the ridiculous

A day of contrasts. Of black and white. Good and very, very bad.

Saturday began with a start at 05:30. I took an early tee time – a very early tee time (07:08) – as I was on airport duty around lunchtime, taking my youngest brother-in-law back to John Lennon after a great week with us here in Birkdale – a week of smiles and great craic. I hit balls and then hit the putting green all before 7am. The mist that greeted me upon arrival took me to Brigadoon or at the very least reminded me of a Ryder Cup morning start – circa 1993 at the Belfry.

In case you were wondering; 85 (standard stratch probably 74, maybe 75). Long game great. 9 greens hit. Struck the ball v well. Another seven (triple bogey seven!) and four three putts (all from long distance – although that’s not an excuse – I am being defensive but in my defence (!) I didn’t miss anything inside six feet – that shows you how bad my long range putting was! Overall the improvement in my competition golf is marked and I feel a great score is just around the corner. As I write that I know that’s what compulsive, drunken gamblers say about their next big horse win as they sit slumped in the bookies, but I know it’s true.

Saturday ended in my happiest place of all – at home with my girls. Ireland on the TV. Van Morrison on the sound system. Cold beer in hand. Red Sox vs Yankees. Heavenly. In between I visited hell. Well, the nearest thing we have to hell on earth in this part of the world. I went to Ikea, Gemini, Warrington.

Thankfully this was a precision raid – one item to buy and homework done so I knew exactly where I was going and got in, got a result and got out as quickly as humanely possible. However, that didn’t shield me from the worse of humanity – well, those with first world problems in any case. Huge queues. Raised voices. Crying children. Lots of domestic fall-outs. Some pushing. Clearly some poor queue etiquette. Carnage in the car park as people fought – almost literally – over spaces. The tension was palpable.

I was happily only there around 15 minutes from start to finish but it was plenty of time to realise that this was the afternoon mayhem after the serenity of a morning at Southport and Ainsdale; after the Lord Mayor’s show; the sunshine and the storm. As President Nixon said in his farewell speech to the nation – a great speech given the shadow of disgrace that rightly hung over him; “…..only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.”

I plan to return to my magnificent golfing mountain next Saturday but I will give the deepest retail valley a miss if it’s all the same to you.


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