“…I stepped outside my life for a moment to score a goal in the 2010 World Cup Final. Glory days, eh? The oldest player ever to score in a World Cup Final. Though in reality, of course, I was sitting in the Citroen Berlingo beside the golf course in Dornoch eating a sausage sandwich and day-dreaming about the ‘beautiful game’. My second goal scoring opportunity was abandoned after being distracted by the sight of a golf trolley traversing the golf course under its own steam. I had seen something like this before, you know - a self-propelled golf trolley trundling along the pavement in Dornoch, followed closely by a man in multi-coloured trousers operating a remote control device from within his enormous trouser pockets. How many golf balls can you fit into those pockets, I wanted to ask him, but instead opted for a safer discussion about remote controlled trolleys. Such trolleys are common in the world of golf, he said, but you need an element of skill to operate them with precision because they can be difficult to manoeuvre. As a result, many end up being ‘bunkered’, which is golf terminology for being ‘up-ended’ in a bunker. So there you are, an excellent example of a golf accessory spawning a new word if ever there was one. A bunker, by the way, for those of us ignorant of golfing terminology, is a sunken sandpit. It’s also one of those words that makes for a good swear without the swear element. ‘You Bunker!’ Yes, it has an ambiguity that could be useful.
I was further distracted from my footballing fantasies by a loud ping at the back of the Citroen Berlingo, followed by a random shout of “Four in the car!” which meant nothing to me. Two days later it dawned on me that this random shout of “Four in the car” was actually “Fore in the car”, which is shortened golf speak for: “Oy, you in the car eating sausage sandwiches, golf ball heading your way!” This would explain the loud ping.
This “fore” speak, of course, is an ineffective early warning system. The speed of sound (768 mph in good air) is faster than the speed of a golf ball (between 100 and 180 mph perhaps, depending upon your swing), but by the time the ball has been struck, it’s trajectory plotted, the warning shouted and the sound travelled, it’s too late to take evasive action. It’s just a polite way of saying sorry after the event, don’t you think?
My lunchtimes are usually uneventful and rarely punctuated by random golf balls. I listen to Tom Morton on Radio Scotland if I am having a late lunch, or Jeremy Vine on Radio Two if I am having an early lunch. Sometimes I have two lunches and listen to both. Self-employment has many temptations.
Following on from this golf ball incident I shall vary my lunchtime routine and take sustenance (an egg mayo roll from Harry Gows in Dornoch, perhaps?) beside the bowling green where there’s little chance of a random bowl heading my way unless it’s delivered by a visiting Spaniard who’s decided that the possibility of me scoring a goal against Spain in the next World Cup is simply too great a risk to take, in which case there would be less of a ping and more of a thud, followed by my retort of “You Bunker!” between mouthfuls of egg mayo roll…”
(This article appeared in the Ross-shire Journal in 2010) Extracted from The Bit in the Middle to be published as an ebook in Spring 2016. Non fiction, autobiographical, the life and times of a self-employed gardener in the Scottish Highlands.TwitterWebsite