Aged 11, I passed my exams for a very good Grammar school and my folks were absolutely chuffed to bits. They always believed in the importance of education, home ownership, a strong work ethic and personal development. So for their eldest child to make it to Baines GS was a proud moment, not least because for the previous few years I’d shown no great aptitude for learning and was placed in the bottom quartile in every exam. So in the final year at primary school they paid for me to be privately tutored – it must have been a stretch for them – and it was enough to get me through the 11 plus. Hurrah!
Spending all that time picking olives allowed me to think about all kinds of things and for some reason I couldn’t get Robin Hood out of my mind. Don’t ask me why. It must have been all those hours stuck up a tree.
It was sad enough to learn that one of my heroes Paul Newman died recently. This morning I was reading that Seve Ballesteros is in hospital following a dizzy spell and partial epileptic fit, which looks certain to be caused by a brain tumour. The biopsy is tomorrow and I wish him a speedy recovery but it doesn’t sound hopeful does it? I admired him enormously, not just because he was a superbly gifted and brilliant golfer but also because he played (well at least before his back problems developed) with a huge smile on his face and because he dared to believe that some poor kid from Spain could become a Grand Slam Champion and, subsequently, that Europe’s players could beat the seemingly invincible Americans at the Ryder Cup. He taught his peers that anything was possible. And he was right. Continue reading