The fairways were a distant dream. The swindle still bantered and dropped their balls. They met triumph and disaster. Oak trees and heather. Unplayable lies and tricky putts. They took the good with the bad. The rough with the smooth. Emails were sent.
From: The Undertaker
Subject: Planning Ahead
I hear you haven’t been well. Do you want one of my cards? Golf is going well. Played a few games at the seaside. Blew a gale but managed to get 34 points. The breakfast was good and the cakes were like my Mum used to make. If you get better, we must fix up a game.
The Undertaker x
From: Big Rich
Ruggy – 24 points.Sid 26 points.Gus 28 points.The Busman 30 points/Pancake 32 points. Sheriff won on34 points. I have swung the axe and the cuts have been savage on the handicap front. We have agreed not to cut The Sheriff. Scratch is tough enough.You will be in my line of sight when you return with all those shots.
Usual mixed fortune on the fairways. Or in the woods if you are Sid. His knees are bad and the oak trees are taking a bashing from his three wood. Gus has got his distance back on the tee and Ruggy has forgotten how to putt. My game fluctuates and I spend a long time in the long grass. The Busman still has a bad finger and Pancake is managing to win either the front, back or nearest the pin. He is still not happy about his handicap of six. The Chef said come back soon and he will make you a vegetarian lasagne and even the Green keeper’s dog misses your smile.
I winged off replies.
To: Big Rich Subject: Men in the woods
Sounds like no one is using those tight fairways. Maybe you could get a reduction in your subs. Tell Sid to get those knees fixed. Fine Pancake every time he moans about his handicap and say hi to Stanley the Dog.
The White Coats said I can come back soon. One of the surgeons plays a bit. He wears really neat ties and has got a good golf swing. I bet he putts well. Steady hands.
Catch you soon.
To: The Undertaker
Subject: Touting for business and Golf
I intend to get better. Will fix a game soon.
There were bits I missed out in the emails. I missed out the bit about the pomegranates, the painter and the Pole. I missed out the bits about missing their swings and smiles. I missed out the bit about shafts and spikes and slicing off the tee. I missed out the bit about lagged putts and sandy lies. I missed out the bit about nearest the pin, birdies and bogies. I missed out the ‘miss you’ bits.
The Golf Police was still on shopping duties. The list was written and pinned on the memory board. Every week it went out with the shopping bags in the black car. Every week it came back. With omissions and surprises.
“Where is the soap powder/washing up liquid/toilet cleaner/tissues?”
“They must have been out of stock”
“And how come you have got trifle, biscuits and cake. None of them were on the list?”
“And why have you got two pomegranates? Have you ever tried to eat a pomegranate?”
“It was on the list” said the Golf Police, ramming the biscuits in the tin.
I checked the list. There was no mention of pomegranate.
The next day the painter arrived. He arrived early. After the birds had stopped singing and the before the paper had been delivered. He arrived as the duvet was still warm and welcoming. He arrived as the pillow was still soft and the promise of another dream hung on the air. He rang as the Golf Police was in the shower and my clothes were in the drawer. Before the hair brush had been to work and kettle had time to boil.
“Can someone get the door?” bellowed the Golf Police.
Someone threw back the duvet, cancelled the dream and threw on some clothes.
The painter painted the house and drank cups of tea. Strong with two sugars. He enjoyed the sun on his back and being as high as the tree tops. He worked hard and sang quietly to himself. He didn’t know about the white coats. He only knew about top coats and undercoats. Primer and wood. Black and white and white and black. He just thought I sat around all day. On the sofa, watching the golf.
I tried sitting in different rooms. But each time he appeared outside the window, with his big smile, tattoos and pot of paint. White on white and black on black.
I found the kitchen and threw some ingredients in the pan. The onions sizzled in the oil and the garlic mingled with the smell of paint. The kettle boiled and the sugar dissolved in the bottom of the mug. I added sugar to the shopping list. And powder, soap and loo rolls.
When the painter had left, I served supper. Spaghetti bolognaise. With shredded parsley, garlic and grated pomegranate. Pomegranate which should have been Parmesan.
“Different” said the Golf Police.
“Pomegranate. Parmesan. Not even close” I said.
“I am away next week” said the Golf Police. “You’ll be fine. The fridge is full and the wardrobes are being done on Tuesday”.
And so he left. Packed his bags and in the morning, headed west to the setting sun. To hotels, with menus and beds with fluffy pillows. Shiny surfaces and silence.
The next day the carpenter arrived. Polish, with big tool boxes and strong fore arms. He worked from early until late and took his tea strong with no sugar. He used drills and a metal slicing tool, which sounded like a tiger had a thorn in its paw. Sometimes he traded the tiger tool for the hammer and the house shook. The dust fell softly like volcanic ash and coated the house and the pomegranate in the fruit bowl. We communicated simply. Mime and charades. Verbs were optional extras.
“Mirror, here where like you?”
Curtain. Cupboard. Door?”
“Yes. No. Maybe?”
I knew some Russian. I knew some Turkish. A smattering of French and Italian. I could say hello and goodbye, please and thank you in Polish. But not whether I wanted the cupboard to butt up to the window or whether there should be in fills up to the ceiling. Neither did I know how to say:
“I have a migraine and I need to sleep”.
“Please can you turn that cutting tool off. Just for a little while”.
“Maybe you could come back next week”.
“Are you sure we ordered that bed head?”
It looked a bit small. He didn’t know about the big bed of dreams. Waiting in a warehouse somewhere. A bed bought from a hooker.
And how to tell him about all the things I wanted to hide in the wardrobe. A space for impulse buys and things to be brought out when the coast was clear. Somewhere to hide shoes and the odd golf club. Or a new pair of waterproofs. How to tell him about a wardrobe which led to a land called Narnia and could he build me one, so I could escape sometimes.
We made do with the charades and mime. I left out the bits about the hooker and Narnia. He still used the tool that sounded like a tiger had a splinter in its paw. The cupboards were built and we sad our farewells.
“Bye. Hello. Again. Yes?”
“Dzlekuja. Dobry”. I repeated it in English. Just in case it got lost in translation.
“Thank you. Goodbye”.
Far away to the west, the Golf Police ordered red wine with his pasta and sticky toffee pudding for dessert.
I went to bed early. Pulled the dusty duvet high and dreamt of Narnia and walking the fairways.