The stalling was minimal (he’s getting there!) but the robotic and strict adherence to how it’s “meant to be done” had us discussing my own driving test and the lesson which preceded it. The drive also took us through Bayble and what we witnessed there also had me hankering back to a somewhat bygone age.
I have to confess I had no interest in being able to drive a car when I was seventeen. There was always too much else to do and besides, in order to gain her “independence”, my mother had passed her driving test and was always a convenient and willing taxi. Point under 16’s and 18’s of the seventies still owe her a huge debt of gratitude for ensuring several of the team made it to away fixtures on time.
Other mothers of that era made similar sacrifices. If I remember correctly their favourite night was when it was their turn to wash the kit of thirteen muddied and sweat-stained junior Rudhachs, fresh from an evening splashing about at Creagan Dubh. Luckily we were only allowed two substitutes then.
Only when I was offered a car at my first proper job as part of a promotion did I decide to take the plunge and get behind the wheel. My unofficial lessons were basic and brutal: they consisted of Donnie “Chops” Morrison with whom I worked, rolling up a copy of the Daily Record into a fairly rigid, make-shift “club” with which he proceeded to wrap my knuckles every time I erred or broke any of the rules of the road.
Now that I come to think of it, no wonder I’m no use at golf; my hands are deformed!
Donnie was patient and understanding, if unerringly swift and accurate, but the person who helped both myself and most of our family pass their driving test was my aunt, Morag.
“The Hearach” as she is affectionately known in Point, is originally from Scalpay, where, as any damn fule no, everyone has a boat. In much the same way as being called English whilst abroad will have annoyed every Scotsman at some point, poor Morag has always being fairly stoic about being known as “Hearach” by us stupid Rudhachs.
How someone from an island which had only one road and no bridge to the “mainland” until fairly recently became the Tomsh families’ own “Stig” is still something of a mystery.
Her record remains impressive. Everyone of us has passed first time and to date we have neither killed nor maimed anyone. Much.
I had one “official” lesson from Neil “Moley” MacLeod in the January of the year I passed and cannot remember much about my test in the July apart from being stunned when the examiner said “congratulations, you’ve passed”. My knuckles were still bleeding from my morning’s mock test with Donnie. Changed days from now where everyone has to have at least 20 lessons and something called a “theory” test. My theory is somebody spotted another fast buck to be made.
Going through Bayble, I chanced upon the demolition site that is where the school I remembered very fondly once was. Secondary 1&2 were the favourite years of my life and Bayble School was the greatest place in the world. “Dool” MacDonald majored us all in Maths and football, Ken MacLeod in Science and badminton, “Nan” MacLeod in French and expressiveness and “DS” MacLeod in English and life & living. At that particular time of my life they were the best teachers anyone, anywhere could have wished for. I would go back to 1973 tomorrow.
It’s all very sad, though I do believe the Sgoiltean Ura project is a must for the island and everyone can’t have a school at the end of their fence.
Last weekend saw Stornoway take the short trip across the water to play Ullapool in the first leg of what has become a hugely enjoyable and tremendously competitive match. As I’ve said before everything is relative, and whilst everyone on both sides wants to play well and win, the most important thing on the agenda is the chance to get the banter going, have a craic and meet old friends.
Ullapool deservedly won 4-3 on the day and Captain John MacLeod will be desperate for the chance to repeat his, now famous, winners speech (2007) should they prevail in the return at the end of July.
Back at Stornoway, Peter Middleton was busy putting together his best round since his team last won a league title , winning the Jackson medal qualifier with a fine 76(62) by three shots from a resurgent Liam McGeoghegan whilst Jane Nicolson took the ladies Quaich, edging out Mairi MacIver by four strokes.
My senior Correspondent updated me with the following few lines re-the latest events on our own “legends tour”.
The Senior's league has yet to take on it's familiar shape with only a handful of players having completed the maximum of seven rounds. Nevertheless, Duncan MacLean who won't be too far away at the end of September has taken an early lead from Peter O'Brien. Some of the usual contenders like John MacKinnon and Norrie MacKenzie have also scored well on their limited appearances. One notable regular, Robbie MacRae, has played only one and a half rounds this summer due to an extended football season. Last time I saw him he was off to Hampden Park (Dundee Utd were playing a second division side, I think) - has anyone seen him since?
We are now well into May and are still favoured with preferred lies, so one shouldn't be too surprised that some folk will use the rule to maximum advantage. On one recent occasion a ball that seemed to have disappeared at least a foot into the semi-rough was (allegedly) noted to be sitting up on a nice tuft of grass about the same distance back on to the fairway. Now, that's what you could call a preferred lie. No, it wasn't John MacKinnon!
Much of the raison d'être for Senior golf is the post match craic and gossip - many a promising rumour is started in the half hour after 5pm. Other patrons of the club at this hour (mostly the offshore boys) must be horrified at the general noise and rowdiness that emanates from the mezzanine area of the lounge during such discussions. Of course, it is sometimes difficult to stop Peter O'Brien in full flow as he reveals his latest plans for drastic alterations to the clubhouse.
Despite his heavy involvement in architectural design work, Peter also finds time to play golf to a good standard. His 37 points took the top spot this week depriving Duncan MacLean and Norrie Munro (both on 35 pts) of the desirable brown envelope. Well, the contents are desirable, if the envelope isn't. In fourth spot was Ian MacLaren with a much improved 34 pts – perhaps he is coming to terms with what must be a very different type of course for a newcomer to the island.