Monday, January 18, 2010

Expensive hobbies

Some folk may be very upset when billionaires spend money on enormous yachts, but I think that we should be happy about this. Think of the employment this gives to naval architects, boatyards, professional crews, and luxury caterers. I look forward to reading the reports of the seemingly endless races. I think that the purchase of yachts is a far better use of a successful professional golfer's earnings than spending it on bimbos.

These thoughts have lead me to think about other past times enjoyed by the very wealthy. Polo is an example: A sport for the royal family and skilled horsemen from Argentina. It does seem to be a rather sexist sport: Do women ever play Polo? Probably so, but we never hear about them.

I am not really in favor of fox-hunting, although I do not take the extreme position that the League Against Cruel Sports does. At least, the fox has a chance to get away, unlike the Taro in a Spanish bullfight. Hunting on horseback can involve chasing after other animals, such as stags and wild boar. I have never felt tempted to join in such endeavors, even if I could afford them.

As a Naval Cadet, I did enjoy beagling. We would be driven in a Lorry (a large truck - no mini buses in those days). We followed the hounds on foot, and I don't think I have ever been in such good health since those days.

Likewise, although I once co-owned a twelve ft. sailing dinghy, I can't afford to maintain a yacht. Occasionally, in recent years, I have gone sailing with Barbara's son, Brian, but otherwise I have stayed away from small craft. I am reminded of the comment in The Wind in the Willows to the effect that nothing is quite so much fun as "simply messing about in boats".

Early in my days at Port Regis, my British-style prep school we performed the play, based on that book, written by A. A. Milne (who also wrote about Christopher Robin, Poohbear, Eeyore and Piglet.) it was known as Toad of Toad Hall. I was cast as the Chief Weasel - please don't quote that as an example of typecasting! We other animals were not very happy with the bumptious Mr. Toad, and I shall never forget the curse we spoke, which included "May he forget who wined his watch at night - and may his dancing pumps be much too tight".

I suppose I could have afforded to be a golfer, but my experience with golf clubs and golf balls is very limited. As children, my elder sister and I made a golf course for our selves in the extensive grounds of our parent's home in Reigate Surrey. The gardeners were always tolerant with us, and did not complain at the appearance of nine holes in the carefully groomed lawns.

We also played "Clock golf", essentially putting practice with "tees" being the Roman numerals of a clock, set about fifteen feet from the center.

I also enjoyed mini-golf, chiefly playing with my sons before they began attending high school.

Barbara and I did enjoy most of one game on a Par 3 course in Florida. This was laid out on the same property as contained two famous 18-hole courses. We rented the equipment, and were having fun until I took such a swipe with my 9 iron that the ball overshot the hole, and landed on the driveway leading to the fancy clubhouse. As we walked over to recover the ball, a Cadillac drove onto the property. Seeing the ball there, the driver stopped the car, got out, and swiped my gold ball...

End of golf game: End of story.

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