Friday 20 September marked my final day on this leg of American season and once again saw me waking in my little room at the Comfort Inn and Suites hotel near Nashville.
It was still early when I woke, too early for breakfast, so I made a coffee, turned the TV on and watched some coverage of the golf tournament which is being played at the beautiful Wentworth course in Surrey. This is an event that Liz and I have attended in previous years and it was lovely to remember us walking through the woods and along the fairways, marvelling at some of the best golfers in the world doing their thing.
Breakfast was the usual fare from a hotel of this sort: waffles, bacon, scrambled eggs and pastries and didn’t take up too much of my day.
As I did not have any commitments until the evening the day spread out before me and I had done a little research to see if there were any reasonably priced public golf courses nearby. I discovered that the Pine Crest Golf Club was only 10 minutes from the hotel, and that it looked very nice, therefore I had booked a tee time in the morning.
In the pro shop I rented some clubs, and bought a couple of boxes of balls, 6 should have been more than enough, even allowing for my lack of knowledge of the course and my relative rustiness.
I put my clubs onto a buggy and drove through the trees to the tenth tee (where I had been told to begin). Fortunately there was nobody in front and nobody waiting behind, so I could get straight on with things without any pressure. A couple of practice swings felt good, and I stepped up to the ball.
I took my stance, focussed on the ball slowly swung back, brought the club down and: Clonk! Horrible dull clonk, and I dragged the ball almost 90 degrees left! Whoops, I decided to count that as a mulligan (a golfing term meaning a shot that one conveniently forgets), and reset with another ball. I went through the same routine and produced much the same result, although this time with more power and the ball flew into a patch of rough between some trees and towards a lake.
I decided to play my first ball, as at least I could still see it, and guided the buggy over a bit of course it has probably has never driven on before. My second shot was reasonable and put the ball back on the fairway. I then drove to look for the other ball and couldn’t find it anywhere. One down.
Back to the ball in play and the seven iron I had played from the rough had given me some confidence. Third shot, shanked, into thick weedy undergrowth. Lost. Two down. I placed another ball and miss-hit that, straight into a pond guarding the green. Three down! At this rate my round would be over by the middle of the second fairway.
Despite my adventures I had caught up two players who were also struggling, and they eventually let me past (embarrassingly I lost another ball as they stood back and watched), but once I was free of them I relaxed and suddenly I could play golf again.
The shots started going straight, high and true and my scores came down. At my ninth hole (actually the eighteenth, as I had started at ten), I not only holed in par, but I actually found the ball I had lost on the first, laying close to the ninth green! Things were looking up.
The second half got even better and, despite losing one more ball, due to lack of course knowledge that to a bad shot, my scores continued to be impressive, I even got two birdies and by the time I reached the final hole my score was one of my best for a long time.
What a lovely way to have spent a morning, although it hadn’t felt like that on the second fairway!
Having returned my clubs and changed my shoes I got into the Jeep and headed to find some lunch (I would have eaten in the clubhouse, but there was a major tournament scheduled for the afternoon and they were completely overrun).
The radio was still tuned to the Broadway Musicals station and as I drove they played a song from the musical Fame Becomes Me:
Another Curtain goes up
On a one man show
Another chance for an ego
To say hello
Another curtain goes up
On a one man show
Another chance for producers
To rake in the dough
Billy Crystal, Jackie Mason
Kept their overheads low
That’s the way to make a million
On a one man show
Another curtain goes up
On a one man play
Cause if your last film was a flop
Then hello Broadway!
My life’s work in 30 seconds!
I had lunch in a Panera Bread and thoroughly enjoyed one of their Baja Warm Grain Bowls with some grilled chicken on top. Healthy and delicious.
After lunch I did a little bit of window shopping, particularly looking at small, light laptop computers, as mine is gently fading to a better place and I am keen to replace it soon. After quite a time in BestBuy I made no decisions whatever, and headed back to the hotel, where I continued my research online, which branched out to include a search for a new suitcase too, which is a rather more pressing requirement.
As afternoon turned to evening I prepared for my show and left the hotel at 6. Once again the traffic was heavy and as I crawled along the Jeep revealed a strange quirk to its nature. It had been fitted with an engine management setting that cuts out when the car is stationary and which bursts back into life when you are ready to go, this is quite common now in an effort to restrict emissions, but the Jeep had a mind of its own: sometimes the engine stopped, when I stopped and sometimes it didn’t. If the engine did cut out it sometimes remained silent, or sometimes it just came to life again for no apparent reason – I didn’t take my foot of the brake, or put it on the throttle, it just decided it wanted to run again. My appreciation for the car grew, it certainly had character.
The traffic hold up was caused by a huge, and very serious looking car crash at an intersection, the road was completely blocked by police, fire and paramedics and the accident had obviously happened at high speed, for two cars were completely smashed, one at the front, one at the back. It was not a pleasant scene, but fortunately the police were on hand to divert the rush hour traffic. I drove on, hoping above hope that the drivers were not too seriously hurt and that all that had been lost was a couple of cars.
Because of the delay I was a little late to The Hermitage but still in plenty of time for the show, and as I had re-set the stage the night before so there was nothing to be done other than get into costume, which I duly did. The audience arrived gradually, some on the golf cart but many walking through the grounds as the evening was a little cooler than the night before and perfect for a twilight stroll. Most purchased a glass of wine and then made their way into the ‘theatre’ to bag a good seat.
At 7.30 Hannah welcomed everyone and the last show of this tour began. It was a really fun evening and the audience laughed and joined in with great enthusiasm. Uriah Heep got his own round of applause as did James Bond and we all had lots of fun. It was a lovely way to bring the week to a close, which had begun with some very stressful days, especially leading up to the performance of A tale of Two Cities, and had now gently wound down to this happy moment.
When the applause had died down I opened the floor up to questions and once again their were plenty forthcoming. One gentleman asked ‘how did you get started in acting?’ and I thought to myself ‘oh dear, you are so going to wish you hadn’t asked that!’ and out came the school nativity play cockerel story, which went down a storm.
Eventually we wrapped up, although plenty of people stood in line to chat and to pose for photographs. The Spring House at The Hermitage is a fabulous venue to perform in, it is so friendly and cosy. I certainly hope that I can return soon.
As the clock ticked around towards 9.30 the last of the audience had departed, I had changed and was boarding the golf cart to be taken back to my car. I said goodbye to Hannah and drove back to my hotel. There was a restaurant nearby which stayed open until 11pm and I celebrated the end of my trip with a delicious grilled salmon dish served on a piece of cedar wood to give it a hint of smokiness, accompanied by rice and asparagus, with a glass of wine to wash it all down.
Fortunately my flight was not to be an early one on Saturday morning, so once I got back to the room I could go straight to bed without worrying about packing. All of that could wait for morning.