A week of landmarks and sporting incidents colliding to reveal and expose human traits and quirks which I imagine (or hope) we are all subject to.
Patrick’s 17th birthday was additionally exciting this year because all his big brothers were in London and free to celebrate. Tom was ensconced in a palatial London hotel for the Spider-Man No Way Home junket along with Harry on chronicling duties. Sam, Nikki and I remain in less salubrious surroundings – our home.
My boys birthdays always remind me of my own advancing years but particularly so Patrick’s, him being my youngest and this feeling is compounded this year as we wait in the hotel reception for Tom and Harry to appear. This is a hotel I have done many gigs in over the years – important gigs because they have afforded me the time to write so many books not to mention allowing Nikki and I to rear our boys – important gigs then, and yet I cannot remember a single one of them. For which client, when or how they went. I even struggled to recall where the blinking ballroom is which is unnerving.
Being Paddy’s night, he gets to choose where to eat – and Nando’s it is. An upmarket fast-food chicken joint so not his parents’ preference and possibly not great for his very recognisable older brother. But credit to the other diners on this evening because Tom is not troubled even once for a photo – and not because the food is just so delicious.
And then on to a bar called Putt Shack – a fiendishly clever place combining crazy golf with alcohol. What could possibly go wrong?
…my sporting ability springs to mind.
Being mindful not to offend anyone re gender – but it seems to me that men are ultra-competitive. Even more so, men within the same family and particularly a dad who wants to beat his sons – and even more so, from sons who want to really beat-up their old man.
And this competition is not diminished by something whimsical and somewhat arbitrary like Crazy Golf.
Being Paddy’s birthday, the kind thing would be to let him win.
Not a bit of it.
We are all desperately trying to win. To grind each other in to the dirt. But my game is off and quickly I am ranking low. But with Nikki playing, I am assured of not finishing last. Her presence is a good thing unless I factor in the humiliation of appearing useless at a game I have played all my life in front of the woman I have spent my entire life with.
And then onto another sporting evening this week – to the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane in Mayfair to celebrate the career of Usain Bolt in the company of legions of other sports stars plus a thousand punters paying to be near greatness. Even amongst world cup winners and Olympians (many with gold medals), Bolt is the unassailable star of the show. The fastest human who has ever lived. Sprinting is perhaps the most binary sport and the easiest to understand. Who is the fastest? Who crosses the line first in a flat-out sprint. There is not much nuance or room for tactics in an event that lasts less than 10 seconds.
With world records at 100m, 200m and 100m relay and 8 gold medals, Bolt is definitively the GOAT and it felt like a privilege to share his company albeit with so many other people.
And the room stacked up also and felt appropriately titled for the fastest ever human – the Great Room as it is called. The ballroom in one of London’s largest and most confident hotels – the Grosvenor House Hotel. A hotel that I have much affection for and I am in debt to and not just financially. This hotel inspired the backdrop for Milly’s workplace in my novel, Only in America, which I have been busy lately preparing to republish. Re-writing and imagining my character at work, it is always The Grosvenor House where my imagination takes me. And also having worked in the famous hotel myself – having done literally dozens of gigs in the Great Room and thankfully I am able to recall many of them this time. It’s a foreboding room and not for the feint hearted. The Great Room has seen so many comedians perish, they really should erect a monument to them.
This is a line that I have used before – specifically in a short story I wrote called Hobbs’ Journey – which again is prominent in my mind since I have been busy retyping it recently to create a novella eBook – as a giveaway for my mailing list.
It isn’t ready yet but it’s coming. Nikki is doing the cover and I am struggling with a landing page and much else besides. Bear with me.
And finally to the results over two rounds of crazy golf by the entire Holland family.
Sam won the first game. Harry won the second.
I won nothing and yet I didn’t feel like a loser – enjoying seeing my family celebrating Paddy’s birthday and each other’s company – a mood that even the reminders of advancing age could not dent.
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