Last night (Monday) was the first time in a long while that I left my house with genuine trepidation.
Having put myself forward as a candidate for election to the Sgire an Rubha ward in the forthcoming council elections, the least that could be expected was for me to make myself ‘visible’ in the Republic.
Getting out and about, explaining to people why I was standing and asking them to consider my candidacy, suddenly made my decision to put myself forward very real indeed.
Along with my election agent, Stewart MacLeod (carefully chosen as he is one of my oldest and most trusted friends, notwithstanding the fact that he knows every single person on the island, far less the peninsula), we headed out in the rain to begin at the beginning.
It’s a big place, is Point, especially when you are confronted with every driveway, doorstep and doorbell between Branahuie and Broker.
Don’t worry Portnaguran and Portvoller, alliteration hasn’t forgotten you either.
Things have been ‘hotting up’ now that the deadline has passed and the runners and riders have been confirmed.
‘Itchy and Scratchy’ are in overdrive demanding that every single one of us lays down our political allegiances, outlines what we would bring to an independent Scotland and our preparedness for doing exactly as Nicola says.
Sorry to disappoint them both, but if anyone doesn’t know where I’m coming from, then clearly they need to buy the W.H.F.P. more often.
I have been asked before what I believed in, via Zuckerberg, in previous conversations with folk who ‘demand’ answers.
I said that I believed in a society where everyone looked out for each other, where the strong supported the weak, and where merit and ability ‘trumped’ privilege and money at every single turn.
I’m an old-fashioned socialist trying to adapt to a new currency where politics and policies are ridden over, roughshod, by populism and mass appeal.
I’m standing because I think I can make a difference.
Somewhere along the line I think of Kevin Kline as Dave Kovic.
Suddenly, and mistakenly, catapulted into the position of ‘the most powerful man in the world’; Dave finds himself performing economic miracles on the back of a fag packet to save a homeless shelter.
I can but dream.
Maybe, given the right combination of circumstances, one day I may be in a position to vote against the closure of a library, to prevent the further diminution of services for the vulnerable, or to save a plane service or just a bus shelter.
Whatever else I am, I’m a pragmatist and realise there are some very tough times ahead and some hard-thought decisions to be made.
Good ideas can come from the most likely or unlikely of sources.
Every elected councillor needs to listen to the best advice, try to interpret the best and most original ideas, and to think for themselves what the best outcomes are.
It/they might come from an Independent candidate, a Nationalist candidate, a Labour candidate or, heaven forbid, even a Tory.
Open ears and minds first.
The ‘doorstepping’ wasn’t half as ‘bad’ as I feared.
It was very enjoyable in fact.
People seemed genuinely glad that an effort was being made to engage with them directly.
I told the ‘cailleach’ that I’d see her ‘shortly’, upon leaving the house.
‘If nobody kills you!’ she helpfully replied.
Tonight we tackle Knock and Swordale.
Nobody killed me.
They all recognised Stewart.
Somebody that none of you will recognise, primarily because he’s never featured before as a winner in this column, took all the plaudits in the opening summer skirmishes at Lady Lever Park last week.
Young Andrew MacKenzie has, but recently, graduated from the junior ranks to become a fully paid up member of the League of Gentlemen.
On a good day that’s what they call them.
19 years old and now employed by the club as an assistant greenkeeper, he now gets to see (in a professional capacity) parts of the course most playing members try to avoid.
Andrew has long been possessed of a decent swing and the ability to hit the ball prodigious distances.
In their raw state, these two characteristics do not, of themselves, a golfer make.
As likely to require N.A.S.A. to track the flight the his errant drives as his playing partners, ‘loose cannon’ was one of the more favourable adjectives levelled at his unique playing style.
If he were a beer, he would be a ‘Heineken’.
Until, that is, he met John R. Gilies.
Now John R is the calmest, most easy-going, quietly spoken, golfers in the club.
Great company and fantastic to play alongside, he epitomises the word ‘gentleman’.
If ever there was destiny, Andrew’s was to be drawn with him on both occasions last week.
It took a horrendous outward nine holes, by the young ‘Dustin’, last Wednesday, for John to intervene.
Some words of advice, a hand on the shoulder and a little encouragement; we now have what appears to be a real threat to the handicapper in our midst.
Anyone who can hit the ball, regularly, 300 yds on a 5252 yd long golf course, must be considered a ‘threat’.
Previously with Andrew, the threat was to other golfers, assorted wildlife and the occasional shallow-rooted tree.
As with D.J. MacLeod, Winter League winner, 4 handicap golfer and now member of the Western Isles Island Games golf team; the transition from brash young, ‘grip it and rip’, then try to find it, player, to ‘thinking golfer’ doesn’t happen overnight.
John simply told Andrew to use the correct club, commensurate with his ability and distance, for each hole.
‘Out’, midweek, in 54 blows, his sage advice came at exactly the right time.
He came back in 38 for a nett 66, and the win his inward play deserved.
Not to be outdone, he followed this up with a 90(65) to win the Jackson medal qualifier on Saturday.
With the penny beginning to drop for this talented young player, further reductions in handicap are inevitable. Picking the right club and the right shot for each particular situation aren’t easy when trying to curb a natural enthusiasm fuelled by adrenaline and testosterone.
Whom amongst us remembers what it was like to be 19?
Well played Andrew.
We are all sitting up and paying attention now.
Down at Scarista, young Hugh MacLean, fuelled on lobster and Macallan 12 year old sends me this report of ‘goings on’:
‘There are wo distinct groups forming at the Sacred links most Saturdays these days. The 18-holers and the 9-holers.
The haves and the have nots
Those who have the gas and the gasless.
No different this Saturday as the 18 hole quartet of Simon Hunt, David Hunt, James Dunne and 'The Gunner' (James established a new group, the one holers, packing up after the first) set off to take on the big course. Our winner turned out to be Simon Hunt who carded a net 75 beating into second place, by virtue of better inward half, none other than Alan 'The Gunner' Gunn.
A tight game.
The nine holers ,consisting of yours truly, Roddy Alec, and ex-captain, Mal Hall; set off gamely. Making up the quartet was the relatively young Owen Williams playing in his second competitive medal. Not only did he learn ‘hee- haw’ from his seasoned companions,he proceeded to cuff the pants off them with his gross score of 50.
18 holers for him next week.’
At Askernish, ZuckerCampbell again keeps us abreast of things:
“In the Dr Robertson Trophy, first round, Andrew MacDonald beatt Allan MacInnes 6&5. Played in a tough breeze, especially on the front nine, it was the favourite who comfortably came out on top. Andrew has been practicing whilst Allan hasn't been seen on the course too often, latterly, and it showed.
Andrew was never behind.
However at the turn Allan still had a chance as he was only 2 down but Andrew stood on the gas to take the next 4 holes and seal a convincing win. Andrew now plays the winner of the Ralph Thompson v Steven Macaulay match.”