It was incredibly tense at the eighteenth hole. Somebody would win, somebody would lose - the question was, which would it be?
are doubtless thinking that I must be riveted to the Open Golf on TV, as was Mr B. But no, I was engaged in a rather different game of skill, strategy and stroke-play. In short, Crazy Golf.
Granddaughter Eleanor and Nathan (akaThe Boyfriend) have been on holiday together, taking in a visit to Thorpe Park, a two day stay with her aunts in Hook, a day in Winchester, another in Bournemouth, a visit to Chertsey village
fair, camping in something called a “pod” in the New Forest - and then, yesterday, a day with her Grandad and me before the Dynamic Duo finish off their mini break in a bed and breakfast establishment in beautiful Ashdown Forest. I feel enormously
proud and grateful that, when planning their holiday, we were considered from the very start to be an important - nay, non-negotiable - element of their exciting itinerary.
The travellers arrived with a carrier bag groaning with provisions. They had gone slightly overboard, they admitted, on their recent supermarket sortie and now realised there was no way they would be able to consume it all. Would we,
they asked, be prepared to take some of it off their hands? They made it sound as if we were doing them a favour as they found space in our fridge for cheese, strawberries, pineapple, jam and cream scones and fruit yoghurts. That’s not counting the wherewithal
for the making of Eton Mess for our pudding - after enjoying fish and chips from the local chippy (which has earned Elle’s eternal gratitude for including the alternative of gluten free batter) we decided to defer dessert until we returned from a short
We hadn’t intended to visit the putting green but we were passing and it seemed to be calling out to us. The gent who took our money and handed
out the golf clubs suggested we might want to bypass some of the crowded holes and double back on ourselves when they were clearer. Hence we actually finished, not at hole eighteen but at number nine. Amazingly, the three of us were very close at the finish,
each of us having had great success (I scored a hole in one at what was supposed to be the hardest hole on the course ) and miserable failure by turns. Come that last hole, it was anybody’s game - and by some kind of minor miracle (I never win at crazy
golf) I pulled off a win, taking just two shots to Nathan’s six and beating him by a single putt. Eleanor remains convinced, even now, that I must have been practising...
Back at our house, my granddaughter was keen to show me photographs of Winchester Cathedral’s great West Window which was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell back in 1642. Come the Restoration, the window was reconstructed
- but for whatever reason there was no attempt to recreate the original images. Instead the huge window has been put together randomly from the fragments of the shattered medieval glass in a spectacularly beautiful mosaic.
Long after our lovely visitors have departed for Ashdown Forest, I am still thinking about that window. The story of its destruction and reconstruction reminds me of the way our life - Mr B’s
and mine - altered irrevocably soon after I retired with the onset of his illness and my gradual change of role from carefree retiree to full-time carer. “It wasn’t meant to be like this!” I remember wailing to friends in the early days when
at my most self-pitying, forgetting momentarily how much worse things were for my poor Mr B. Self pity, as I have always said, is Not A Good Look.
we have reconstructed our life from the broken fragments; it’s very different, of course, but like the great West Window, it’s still beautiful, a patchwork made up of everything dear to us - family, friends, shared memories, love and laughter.
Admittedly there are tears, too, but they add texture to the mix and make the better days even happier simply by comparison.
Our life, like Winchester Cathedral’s
stained glass window, is just fine even on a dull day. When the sun comes shining through - say, when a dear granddaughter and her fella come to visit - it is a thing of beauty, of sheer delight, a veritable kaleidoscope of colours.
No longer broken...