POSTCARD FROM STROKE CITY

I have the worst hangover in living memory.

And to make things worse still, last night was only my first night of four in Stroke City, which means that we will be going for it tonight, tomorrow night and again on Sunday night … and then it’s back to Spain.

Before you ask let me tell you: Stroke City is so named because of a debate that has been raging since 1613 when Derry was renamed Londonderry by King James 1 of England and Ireland. A Royal Charter proclaimed ‘that the said city or town of Derry, forever hereafter be and shall be named and called the city of Londonderry.’

Sunday … Bloody Sunday

During the Troubles, this further polarised both communities with the name Derry becoming a Republican designation while Loyalists and the English referred to the city as Londonderry. If this floats your boat and you’d like to find out more about it, follow this link.

So what am I doing here, amigos when I should be writing Saving Dave-slash-lying on the beach in Marbella?

I’m spending a few days in God’s Own Country with my oldest and best friends, two of who have flown in from Down Under for the golf. There’s something I believe is called The Open going on up the road in Portrush. And before you ask … no, I detest golf almost as much as I detest hangovers, but wandering around a field beside the sea watching grown-ups wearing silly hats and checked-slash-white trousers hitting a small ball with a metal stick would probably serve to blow the proverbial cobwebs away. Instead of which I’m routed to my friends’ kitchen table and about to retreat to the sofa – probably to watch golf – as I don’t think I’ve got the strength or sufficient willpower to change the channel.

The magnificent Portora 1st XV of 1973-74

These amigos and I go a long, long way back, maybe not quite as far as the renaming of Derry, but far enough to remember Bloody Sunday as if it were yesterday. And, of course, The Intercepted Pass against Dungannon Royal which ended our dream of lifting the Ulster Schools Cup. And this, of course was the subject of debate – not that there was much to debate about it – sorry Slug if you’re reading this. We had beaten both the Leinster and Munster Schools’ Cups winners and were virtually nailed on as favourites to lift the trophy at Ravenhill on March 17th, for the first time in Portora’s history.

Until The Pass.

The Peace Bridge that spans the River Foyle

It’s started to rain now, which is perfectly normal for Ireland; this morning’s weather forecast went something like this: ‘… if it’s not raining where you are, it soon will be.’ But it’s lovely to see the green, green grass of home and I’m going to predict that I will have perked up sufficient to sip a pint of Guinness or six by the time the golfing amigos return from Royal Portrush.

Aren’t you supposed to play on the cut bit?

I’ve just been informed by a friend who is going to The Open on Sunday – but may even know less about golf than I do – that local man Rory McIlroy scored a Snowman yesterday and this is not a good thing. It’s a quadruple bogey, which has nothing to do with picking your nose, but means that it took him eight hits more than it should take (I believe they’re called strokes) to get the ball into the hole.

There – you see – I learn Mr Fawlty.

Hasta pronto, chic@s!

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