When I was a wee lad our family would descend upon Selkirk ‚?? the bonnie Border town Of My Mother ‚?? once or twice a year. ¬†The 90 minute drive from Kirkcaldy seemed to take an eternity. ¬†Many a fight was had in the back seat of our bottle green Saab; after most I declared myself victor. ¬†I‚??m the eldest of the Patton trio, you see. ¬†The Head Menace. ¬†It might be Fiona I quarrelled with, or Conor. ¬†Either way the one safe bet was that there would be Friction. ¬†
From memory it was Conor‚??s incessant questionning that set me off. ¬†‚??Why do trees have leaves dad? ¬†How do the rocks get into the river? ¬†Is Jamie really as cool as he seems?...‚?Ě ¬†What was interesting to Conor was trivial and irritating to me, The Intoleramus. ¬†Mum shared my sentiments although wasn‚??t quite as scolding as I ‚?? so for one Christmas Santa brought Conor a gigantic volume entitled ‚??1001 Brainteasers To Keep The Mind Occupied.‚?Ě ¬†Satisfactory resolution.
This time ‚?? some 11 years after my previous visit ‚?? a different trio drove into Selkirk, from a different direction. ¬†The Tank left Si Tennant‚??s farm near Scarborough early doors; took us to Bingley St Ives for a Wet Episode Indeed; swung past Asda for a quick Fruit and Rolls and Cheese and Ham shop; and arrived at Selkirk early in the evening. ¬†Its puregolf2010 cargo was wet, jaded and hungry. ¬†But quarrel free. ¬†Who was there to greet us? ¬†Conor Patton; the one and only.
Little brother arrived back on Scottish soil after a decade in the wilderness just before we did, in mid-July. ¬†Brutus is here to play rugby and, in typical Generation Y fashion, to Find Himself (how careless to have lost oneself in the first place). ¬†Given mum grew up in Selkirk ‚?? a small town with a rich rugby heritage ‚?? it was a natural fit for him and the arrangements came together with relative ease. ¬†So here he is, making a go of it. ¬†And looking after his big brother despite all the years of oppression he has suffered. ¬†What a good character.
The town was enveloped in rain and darkness when we arrived, so it was hard to see whether much had changed. ¬†Turns out it hasn‚??t. ¬†Conor showed us around his flat (shared with and owned by family friend Mike Rutherford, who I used to kick a rugby ball around with in The Good Old Days) before he and Mike ducked off to training. ¬†We were shown to our living quarters just around the corner, being Rud‚??s parents place (they were off down the road for the night and kindly gave us the keys to the kingdom in their absence). ¬†I indulged in the guilty pleasure of reading a newspaper: something there‚??s not much time for this year. ¬†The Times is a pretty quality publication if you ask me; that snake Murdoch doesn‚??t appear to have ruined it just yet.
Conor and Rud took us out to O‚??Malley‚??s, one of the three public inns in Selkirk. ¬†Certainly the best lit, I imagine. ¬†You know that feeling when you‚??re in a club at 4am and the lights are switched on to encourage you to leave? ¬†Well, it was like that all evening. ¬†As we approached the bar a tray of sandwiches was put in front of us, and we were invited to treat ourselves. ¬†Good old fashioned hospitality (like they used to have at The Mansfield in Christchurch on Friday nights)? ¬†Nope ‚?? it was some poor lady‚??s 50th birthday. ¬†I say ‚??poor‚?Ě because all the woman‚??s friends had disappeared, leaving only her, a few ‚??Happy 50th Birthday‚?Ě pink helium balloons and a tray of dodgy looking triangular sandwiches. ¬†A group of young girls fortunately had taken the lady under their wing, and clearly had helped her to finish her sandwiches. ¬†Quite a sight.
Given the gravity of the morning‚??s Grudge Match (the ‚??locals‚?Ě put their hand up to take on puregolf2010), it was very much a case of early to bed. ¬†Damned if I was going to lose to my little brother (ugly mug below). ¬†
Brutus called one minute before my alarm clock went off ‚?? i.e. I was awoken earlier than expected. ¬†Now, you might think this wouldn‚??t make one bit of difference. ¬†But I‚??ve trained my subconscious to bring me out of REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement, for those who didn‚??t have the agony of enduring first year Psychology at university) only a moment before the alarm is set to sound. ¬†Or that‚??s my theory anyway. ¬†It‚??s as if I know I‚??m about to be awoken. ¬†Not so when my friend Conor rang though. ¬†Startled doesn‚??t quite cover it.
It didn‚??t take long for the mind games to begin. ¬†Conor invited us around the corner to his flat for a pre match Ulster Fry. ¬†Only, when we got there (admittedly a little late, thanks to Bart‚??s faffing about) there was not a scent of bacon in the air nor any sign of a frying pan. ¬†Little Brother had reneged on his offer. ¬†We‚??d be playing golf on half empty stomachs (he of course had already taken all 26 of his powders and ‚??supplements‚?Ě). ¬†Under grey skies and with a Fresh breeze blowing up the valley it wasn‚??t warm either ‚?? I‚??m not going to lie to you ‚?? so conditions were perhaps not ripe for low scoring. ¬†But they were for a good bit of craic.
Some 60 yards or so from the first tee is a rise with a marker stick perched on top. ¬†In days gone by Rud and I would pull sand wedge in an effort to get sufficient loft under the ball, to clear the hillock. ¬†This time around (granted we were playing from winter tees) it was a punch with a 3 iron, little thought being given to the Auld Foe. ¬†Conor hit a mighty mid iron only to find himself in the heather. ¬†Pity.
The visitors raced to 3 up in as many holes ‚?? despite a blinding birdie from Rud on the 3rd and thanks also to a missed tiddler on Conor‚??s part. ¬†Rud‚??s birdie deserves special mention come to think of it. ¬†From 35 feet behind the hole, putting across the slope, he was eyeing it up. ¬†‚??I fancy this one‚?Ě we heard him murmur. ¬†The ball dropped without hesitation. ¬†And we all fell about laughing with glee. ¬†Such is the wizardry of the man. ¬†Conor‚??s missed tiddler also deserves special mention because it was equally entertaining. ¬†From 2 feet above the hole, putting down hill, a very perturbed Conor (enraged at being asked to putt the little ‚??un) smashed his ball 8 feet past without so much as flirting with the cup. ¬†Confidence can be so swiftly shattered.
‚??Twas a terrible shame that winter greens and tees were in force, in that we missed one or two gems. ¬†Like the 5th, a sweeping dogleg right down towards the fields. ¬†Rather than a 3 iron and a 9 iron it was just a wedge. ¬†Still, we got the view. ¬†Conor reminded us on the 6th of the fact that the sheer slope that the hole plays up was used in days gone by by rugby players for sprint training. ¬†Dave Forrest I think it was that was renowned for gunning it up and down that cliff. ¬†I wouldn‚??t make it half way once, let alone do repeat sets. ¬†Incidentally we used to use the same hill for sledging and rolling Easter eggs Back In The Day. ¬†Far more leisurely...
Conor burned his bridges with the Patton family when he started to take mulligans on the back stretch, notably on the 8th. ¬†Instead of playing from the heather after his shanked tee shot, he preferred to throw another one down and play his second from the fairway. ¬†Cheat. ¬†We took the moral high ground and left it up to his own integrity. ¬†Which was sadly lacking. ¬†We were already giving the little sod a shot a hole...
By the 9th and final hole the visitors remained 1 up, after the pretenders pulled a couple back with some nifty play. ¬†The finishing hole at Selkirk is a striking one; the sort of hole that you don‚??t forget in a hurry. ¬†From the tee you gaze across the town and the valley, the green sitting down below you across 150 yards of heather. ¬†Knees were knocking at this point: surely the rascals wouldn‚??t pull something out of the hat? ¬†Conor‚??s ball found a heather bush some 25 yards from the tee, so that was him out of action (again he tried the mulligan trick but we took no notice). ¬†Rud however knocked one pin high left in the light rough. ¬†Goldy blocked it into the bank and took 4, leaving it up to the childhood pals to fight it out. ¬†With 10 feet for par, Rud had a putt to tie the match (with his shot) ‚?? but alas it wasn‚??t to be. ¬†4 feet was all that stood between me and Glory, and on this occasion I uncharacteristically converted. ¬†Relief rather than elation.
This however was all preparation for The Main Event. ¬†The ball roll down the path to the putting green. ¬†See below. ¬†Rud won (local knowledge); I came in second; and Goldy‚??s ball ended up in the bracken. ¬†Conor and Bart made up the numbers but never threatened. ¬†¬†All in all, tremendous fun.
Goldy and The Gaffer retired to base camp to blog and attend to other such administrative tasks. ¬†Little brother gave me The Selkirk Experience, which was quite something. ¬†It involved the following: ferreting around the garden in our Granny‚??s old house (mum‚??s childhood home; no one was there); a visit to the Rugby Club; watching the Atlantic Salmon try to leap up the cauld on the River Ettrick down at Philip Haugh; a coffee and cake in the Water Wheel Caf√©, accompanied by much pontification about life and the future and what It All Means; and a leisurely drive around the town to just Take It All In. ¬†A memorable trip down memory lane with my favourite brother.
And then we were off up the road, to Edinburgh for the weekend. ¬†Pint with Uncle David and Cousin Holly on Frederick Street ‚?? Auld Reekie alive with Friday night commotion ‚?? and a quiet evening in with Auntie Gil and Uncle Ian. ¬†What more could you ask for?
Thanks Selkirk GC for allowing me this brief foray into nostalgic days gone by. ¬†And relatives - you know who you are.
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