I realise that comedy and golf combined has a certain reputation and is most usually maligned and sniffed at.

It is not lost on me then that my adulthood has been largely occupied by both pursuits, with mixed and mostly disappointing outcomes, punctuated by fleeting moments of wonder and joy, of which one occurred recently and I am delighted to share with you in this short post…

On the rare occasion these days that I am interviewed, I am always asked why I became a comedian? A question that can easily be misinterpreted by insecure show-biz types!

Usually I spout on about how from a young age, I was aware of being able to make people laugh…

Which is true but I should add that my dad is heavily responsible and not because he passed down any traits but because as a little boy I can remember being utterly enthralled by watching him roar with laughter.

Fawlty Towers. Porridge. The Two Ronnies. The Likely Lads.

I recall a canal holiday in Norfolk when dad was reading Riotous Assembly by Tom Sharpe and I worried that he might have a heart attack from laughing so hard. Sitting in his deck chair, convulsing and rocking with laughter.

This always beguiled me; how wonderful to provoke such happiness and of course as a little boy looking up to his dad, I wondered if I might be able to have such an effect?

I have written before on this blog how much my dad admired Ronnie Barker. I was lucky enough to meet both Barker and Corbett and why I was so pleased to buy a photo of Four Candles that my two heroes had signed.

You see, my dad’s heroes became my heroes and why it was poignant for me to play a golf match last week against one James Bolam, a co-star of the The Likely Lads – a show that I  recall made my dad so deliriously happy.

A big golf match too and I should briefly explain how this came to be.

In my abject sporting life, joining The Stage Golfing Society is perhaps the best thing I have ever done. The pain and worry of being a comedian (and joy?) has been worth it alone to become eligible for this vaunted golf society (the second oldest in Britain and therefore the world, since we invented the greatest and worst game of them all) and last week, partnering

David Haydn (star of Kinky Boots and other West End Musicals) we faced John Peters (star of Harry’s short films and much else besides) and my hero, courtesy of my old man, Jimmy ‘The Likely Lads’ Bolam.

And fitting too, since golf is another dubious hand-me-down from my old man. My dad loved the game, albeit it thoroughly vanquished him – and life father, like son, me also.

Much at stake then and before I get to the match…

Not all my books have been funny. Dave Gorman explained to me once that my big publishing mistake has been to write novels of different genres; some funny, some female skewed, some male skewed, some dramas…

When The Ripple Effect was published (my second novel) I had high hopes (as ever) – and especially since it was critically heralded (Sunday Times book of the week, no less) – but it was being described as Tom Sharpe-like that made me most proud and because of my memories of that canal holiday and my worrying about my dad and his heart.

My cardiac concerns were well founded but thankfully premature; his ill-fated heart attack duly arrive this year in February when he finally left us all. A very sad time for my family but something everyone will encounter and hopefully in this order and with similar lofty timeframes. My dad was 84, a decent innings then…

Since dad died, to keep a connection with him, I plundered his golf bag and have commandeered his Driver which I am holding in the photo accompanying this post. A club I cherish albeit not because of any golfing results, until it seems the match against Bolam and Peters.

I can report a very rare Holland golf victory. It was an honour to play in such a game and once we were settled in, I was able to share with Jimmy the connection I have with him through my dad.

My dad would have been thrilled to learn of this match and somehow I hope that he is aware of it, still. Looking down on my various endeavours including my stuttering golf.

And speaking of endeavours, book No.6 and novel no.5, I’Gabriel is complete and in the barrel and as ever my hopes are high even though it is like nothing I have written before and the sage words of Mr Gorman torment me again…

 

 

I’Gabriel – out in July but in no good bookshops…