By Ronnie Smith
Royal Birkdale, new refugee centre
I never took to golf and still consider it an exorbitant waste of time. When one considers the cost of the equipment required to guide a small ball round a large landscaped garden, the price of the new wardrobe (one notch below Sunday best) one is obliged to buy in order to be allowed onto the landscaped garden and the payment of various fees levied to ensure that the landscaped garden is fully maintained; one hasn’t enough cash left to pay for the petrol to drive to the landscaped garden. In any case, I found myself up to the challenge of enjoying the pleasures of the Scottish countryside without pulling a bag of expensive clubs around with me.
No, I never took to golf but, over the years I have come to understand why many others do.
A long time ago I watched a close neighbour concrete over his back garden, construct a metal frame on it and then cover the frame with a net. He then spent a very great deal of time smoking cigarettes and thrashing golf balls into the net, sometimes accompanied by a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label. His wife would appear at the back door to invite him to the meal that she had just prepared, often to be greeted with a grunt or a shake of the head. I don’t know if my neighbour being an IBM executive offers an excuse for his behaviour but if he had been advised to take up golf for the good of his physical and mental health, it was bad advice.
Many years later I watched another neighbour, Danish but married to Scotland, build the largest wooden shed I have ever seen in his back garden. It was the QE2 of garden sheds. He then moved into it with his TV, vast armchair and a fridge; leaving his wife and three young children to loudly contest the rest of the property while he drank an ocean of beer and watched cable channels devoted to golf and fishing. His wife told me that she informed her husband about meals by phone and then it was up to him whether he turned up or not.
I’m telling you all this because the British Open Golf Championship is being held this week at Royal Birkdale near Southport. Of course this is an annual event where, for four days, the host location becomes the largest and most expensive refugee camp in the world. Where people like those mentioned above can step out of their practice nets, garden sheds and the apparent discomfort of their own homes to watch professionals chase a small white ball around a landscaped garden much more efficiently than they could ever hope to do. They can also eat whatever they want whenever they feel like it, or not.
And so I now understand golf to be a place of refuge, an alternative to political asylum and a precious haven for the disgruntled.
Brussels, Brexit negotiations and poor reporting
The British and E.U. delegations have been getting on with their discussions in an appropriately serious manner during the week but the same cannot be said for those charged with reporting the event to British readers and viewers.
Earlier in the week a photograph was published showing the two teams sitting at a table in a room in Brussels. The E.U. people had piles of paper in front of them while the British had nothing but smiles. Many therefore quickly came to the conclusion that the British were woefully unprepared and didn’t even have briefing papers with them for the meeting. But… the E.U. people had just come from their office and had their papers with them. The British had their documents in their luggage and were simply posing for a photograph on their arrival.
Then as if things weren’t bad enough, David Davis, the man responsible for Britain’s Brexit negotiations, had the nerve to stay at the meeting for only two hours before catching the Eurostar back to London. Outrage ensued. However anyone who thinks that a British cabinet minister should hang around in Brussels while his team get on with business is not living in the real world.
On Friday I read a report in the Guardian newspaper decrying the possibility that British citizens who were allowed to stay in a European country after Brexit would not then have free movement to go and live in another E.U. member country. They would horrifyingly be treated the same as citizens of every other non-E.U. country…
Well of course. Not being E.U. citizens means not being E.U. citizens and, my God, we didn’t even want to be part of the Schengen treaty!
I believe that it is perfectly legitimate for people to remain opposed to Brexit but these negotiations are extremely important for British people and we need them to be seriously reported by our news media. We do need to know and understand what is really going on in Brussels now.
Washington, things are getting weird
It seems that President Trump has asked his legal team, working on his side of the Russia investigation, to find out if he can pardon himself and his family in the event of a ‘guilty’ verdict in the matter of collusion to discredit Hillary Clinton. Say whatever you like about the world’s most powerful man, the man with the launch codes, but he is certainly innovative.
If it turns out that he can pardon himself he could also impeach himself, elect himself and declare war on himself. In fact, he could and should probably section himself too.
Madrid, the return of Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali’s body was exhumed on Thursday to allow samples of his DNA to be taken in the interests of solving a paternity dispute. My feeling is that the whole episode is so strange, surreal in fact, that I can easily imagine the great artist personally arranging it through a secret clause in his will.
Amongst other things, the exhumers discovered Sen. Dali’s trademark mustache absolutely intact and exactly where it should be.