I knew from a fairly early age that I wanted to write about golf. The indications were all there when I was sitting in the back of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Hall in London answering one of fifteen papers of the Law Society’s Solicitors Final Examination and instead of concentrating on Conveyancing Part II I was wondering, really wondering, what was going on at The Open which was taking place the same week.
So although I got through these exams I did something else, which turned out to be way more interesting, which I fell into by sheer luck. But always in the back of my mind was I wanted really wanted to be involved with golf.
So I knocked on a lot of doors, and wrote and wrote and got published and got seen, but it was very frustrating. I knew that a lot of it was to do with the fact that I was female. I would get so far, get more experience, but tenure seemed elusive. I wasn’t male or Scottish, which really does seem to help.
It seemed a closed circle and I began to question if this was really for me. Walking down Fleet Street – where the newspaper journalists used to work but had long since moved to Wapping – I chanced upon St Brides, Fleet Street, which is the journalists’ church. So I wrote it all out on a slip of paper and left the prayer request pinned up on the board. I was handing all this over to a higher power.
If this was meant for me, I asked for a clear and definite sign.
Still feeling deflated I went a week or two later to the Sunningdale Foursomes. You have to watch this tournament carefully because there are no scoreboards until the easel in the clubhouse which someone writes by hand, so the scores of the matches are passed around by word of mouth.
After the morning session I went into the mixed bar of the clubhouse. It was teeming with people and I saw only one space to sit with my drink. There was a small elderly gentleman sitting at the table contentedly with a half pint of lager in front of him. He beckoned me to come over and sit with him. Would I be so kind as to get the scores of the morning matches for him? I went over to the easel and wrote them down for him. He purused them and nodded and remarked on the scores.
”Hello” he said “My name is Bill and I shall be 94 in June”.
I congratulated him on his long life and he began to engage me in conversation, which became incredibly lively and gossipy when I told him about some of the politicians I’d worked for, he seemed to enjoy that immensely. And he seemed to have the knack of drawing things out. So I told him that what I really, really wanted to do was to write about golf and I told him some of the things which had happened. We must have talked for nearly an hour when he gave me a card and said that I should get in touch when I felt ready.. He would mention me to someone called Max. We had been strangers that had just shared a table, but I bade him a fond farewell as I went out to the course to watch the afternoon session.
I was walking down the second fairway when suddenly I had an OMG moment. The funny thing was that as I had sat down at that table with the elderly gentleman something had said to me “this is someone very famous”.
I pulled out his card which I had in my pocket. It said
I had met not any Bill, but Lord Bill Deedes, Journalist of the Century.
That Spring I was very busy with something else important to me which meant a lot of travelling, so I delayed getting in touch, once I had got over my shock. And sadly in the August he passed away after a short illness, so I never made the connections that were so generously offered.
But it wasn’t “shome mishtake shurely?” as apparently Bill Deedes used to say.
It was the sign that I had asked for.
So it seems, I’m here for a reason.