I travelled A LOT last year..probably too much. Between hosting wonderful Scenic cruises on the Rhine, Danube and Mekong, golfing with the ‘boys’ in BC, and taking an 11 day journey on the Canada C3 ship the Polar Prince in, and around, Newfoundland and Labrador, I was gone a lot, and a lot of times without Heather. So, this has been a stay at home summer and I’m loving it! We’re doing a lot of ‘stay-cation’ things here on PEI, spent a week in our beloved Cape Breton in July and will have a visit with family in Ontario at the end of August. I also drove to Ontario in late May to see family, and after driving a couple of times, so far, from PEI to Ontario, I’m finding I don’t mind the drive at all. Oh, and I also have more time for golf…..
I finally joined a club in PEI this year, and have been able to get out about 3 or 4 times a week. ( contrary to popular belief, golf can be fast and I often play in much less than 4 hours) Last week was 5 straight days in 37 degree humidex weather and that, perhaps, was just a ‘little’ bit much. But, I must say, I’m glad I played on that fifth straight day, because that day, was the day I met my personal “most interesting man in the world.”
My friend Tom and I were set to play Saturday morning at 9.10am. We arrived a little early and since it was just the two of us, the starter let us go out before our appointed tee time ( golfers like that ) and paired us with a lovely couple to make our group a foursome. Tom had met the pair before, I had not. They were a couple in their mid to late 70’s, who loved golf, as much, I suspect, for the social aspect as the game itself. Tom informed me the gentleman was a former British navy veteran, and his wife used to be a nurse. We set out to light conversation as we played, Tom and I in one golf cart, and they in another.
On the 5th hole, the conversation was about wintering in warm places and how this couple had chosen Spain over Florida, as it essentially was much cheaper in the long run and that it also allowed the husband to visit family in England on the way over. I casually asked what part of England he was from, and the reply was “Liverpool”. That’s when things started to get surreal for Jeff. Because of the gentleman’s age, I started putting two and two together, and as we were walking to the 5th green I asked him if he ever went to the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool, wondering if perhaps, he had ever seen the Beatles play there when he was growing up. His answer was, and I quote..” I went to school with John”. So, knock me over with a feather. Golf stopped. “You. went. to. school. with. John. Lennon?” He then proceed to tell me about how he had gone to see the Quarrymen many times at church socials, where they would pay just a penny to get in to see them play. For those non-Beatle fans, the Quarrymen was the name the Beatles carried before they became the Beatles, and did not include Ringo Starr. It started with John and Paul and they later added George to the Quarrymen line-up. My head is just spinning now as we head over to the 6th tee.
Just before I tee off, he informs me his best friend growing up in Liverpool was Rory Storm. Now I have to step back from my ball. Rory Storm was born Allan Caldwell, but changed his name as his musical career began to take off in Liverpool. He would eventually front Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Their drummer? Ringo Starr. As a quick aside here, in the early 1960’s, Beatles fans know of the group’s legendary trips to Germany to hone their craft, playing for peanuts in the worse conditions imaginable. What you don’t hear a lot, is that the co-headliner of many of these trips was Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. They were huge, but in a regional way, never aspiring to dominate as the Beatles would. John, Paul and George would eventually replace their drummer, Pete Best, with Ringo, and the rest is history. But, back to the 6th fairway. I hear stories of how Rory would come back from those trips, and like pals do, talk about all the girls he met in Germany. Storm had stuttered all his life, but never when he sang, and it was quite funny to hear how Rory told his friend about all the g-g-g-g-irls he met in Germany.
As we approached the 6th green, he told me the last time he saw the Beatles was at Rory’s funeral in 1972. Rory died at the age of 34, from an accidential overdose, taking medication to help him sleep because he had a chest infection. He had returned from the road to be with his mother after the death of his father. When he was found, his mother was also found dead beside him. No cause was ever determined for his mom’s passing.
As we walked off the 6th green, and headed to the 7th tee, I got hit with this. “Oh, and I also have two Love Me Do 45’s signed by the Beatles” Head spinning. Since I had no words, all I could come up with was ” you have 2 Love Me Do 45’s signed by ALL the Beatles?” ( like I didn’t believe it, or more like, how can I get my hands on one of those)” Yep, they’re at my sisters place back home” ( I didn’t ask if he knew what they were worth, but suggested he could pay for several trips to Spain, if not all of Spain itself, by just selling one of them..)
At this point, I knew his lovely wife had heard him tell these stories many times, but to me it was like my own personal Magical Mystery Tour. But I thought I should get back to my game and stopped asking so many questions…until….
The 7th green…..we were walking off the 7th green, and somehow Winston Churchill’s name came up. Turns out, he was also part of the gun carriage for Churchill’s funeral in 1965. Churchill, of course, the legendary British Prime Minister and Statesman. He told me they had practised thier procession maneuvers in secret for 6 weeks prior to Churchill’s death, and couldn’t tell anyone what they were doing because not everyone knew how close to death the then, 90 year old, Churchill was. It was at this point I told him that HE was ‘the most interesting man in the world’, not the guy on the TV beer commercial!
From there we headed to the 8th tee and it was back to golf..I spent the next couple of holes trying to process all this. He spent it just hitting the ball down the centre of the fairway. I was going to ask if he’d ever met the Queen, but they were only going to play 9 holes on this day, and I was sure I wouldn’t have enough time for the answer!