Smoke Signals

It must be confessed that this is being written after a few snifters at the 19th hole. I’m not a golfing man.. being left-handed and having piss-weak hand-eye ball coordination has always been my excuse for not being a golfer.. but for some reason golf courses and golf club houses have always been very much part of my life. My first job was on a golf course, in my home village of Ticehurst, in East Sussex, UK, back in the summer of ’74, aged 15, while the Watergate saga was reaching its apogĂ© in the US. I was a groundsman on the just-newly-converted-from-a-farm Dale Hill golf course, which now, some 46 years later is considered to be one of the best golf courses in England, and I learned to drive, under the tuition of former leading farm hand George, who had a wonderful rural Sussex accent, as I whizzed round the fairways of the course, collecting grass cutting piles that I’d created with the flymo in an old unregistered Austin van. George McRae’s ‘Rock your Baby’, Charles Aznavour’s ‘She’ and the Three Degrees’ ‘When will I see you again?’ were the three Number One records during that summer job, which eventually paid for my first stereo record player, and a few new albums to play on it when I returned to boarding school in September. my Mum was a founder member, and i guess it was a touch of nepotism that got me the job, but it’s an experience I’ve never forgotten, and perhaps those bad habits that led to my Hash name a decade or more later got developed while having a surreptitious ciggy at strategeous spots around the course, and in the barn, where I’d eat my packed lunches. It was therefore not too big a surprise to me to find myself moving to a house next to a golf course in Australia some 27 or 28 years ago, and, give or take a one street move away, I’ve been living near by it ever since, and I’m fiercely protective of it. I’m referring to Royal Marriqueville Golf Club, and the decades of pleasure that I’ve had walking dogs over it, cycling through it, setting Hash runs through it, watching stars through telescopes from it, meeting friends at the 19th hole at it, studying bats on it, and perhaps a few other activities that shouldnt be mentioned in a family publication such as this, lol! And it’s under threat. The (unwanted) amalgamated Inner West Council are voting on its future on Wednesday : are they going to cut it in half and reduce the club to 9 holes, which will undoubtedly be its death knoll, or is it going to be saved as the fantastic welcoming local facility that it is? We wait to see. last time i was down there was to watch Stringbean’s funeral on the big screen there, and I could honestly hear and feel his presence today. So, 4 schooners later, I’m back up the hill and home after showing my solidarity to the club (of which I’ve been a social member for decades), and attempting to put this newsletter together: sorry for the golfing tangent. It turns out that Stringbean is not the only recently deceased Larrikin to feature in Smoke Signals this week. See the next entry, sent via Mother, for details of how Rover is back in the news (in a good, if sad, way). Okay: enough waffle. There are contributions to come from Fetchit, Phantom, Mother, Berocca and Laundromat, and here are links to Royal Marriqueville and Dale Hill Golf Clubs, respectively, just for the record.. On On, Chimney