Monday 5th of October
It’s 8 am and a beautiful autumn day in Ireland. The sun is shining and the birds are singing. A slight frost stretches across the fields. In the distance is the majestic figure of Lee pope chasing someone across the car park before SLAP!!!! The silence is broken and he falls flat on his face……………………….
20 HOURS EARLIER
Sunday 4th of October
It was the final day of the main event and although many of the attendees had departed the place was still buzzing, so was my head.
We wandered over to the main hotel to watch the racing where we met up with Julian, Jeff and Kev. We decided to wander into town to grab some lunch and Watch the Arc de Triumph.
200 euros later and it was back to the hotel. Why do I listen to peoples tips. Julian had lumped on “Sea of Stars” which came in at around 4/5. In typical poker player style he was still disappointed with the result as he “Shudda had more on.”
Upon our return we bumped into Lee Pope. He’d had something of a sleepless night hearing two Irishmen arguing at silly o clock in the morning in the adjacent room. He banged violently on the dividing door.
“Geeeeezusss paddy, someone’s hiding in the cupboard!” He heard one say.
“It’s Me!” he replied.
There was silence. Realising this could be quite confusing for them he decided to not make matters worse and left them too it.
We decided a round of golf seemed like a good idea.
Jeff declined the offer.
“Why hit a ball down a field just to chase after it, if you want it what the hell you doing knocking all the way down there.” He said.
Now, when I say golf, I mean pitch and putt. Kila and Kev joined us as caddies. When I say caddies I mean to offer moral support. When I say moral support, I mean to laugh at every fluffed shot we make. When I say we, I mean every fluff shot that I make.
We agreed on match play, with a hole having to be won outright to claim the point. This would save on the complication of keeping scores. No one was in a fit state to do that.
Tenner for the match and a fiver bonus if you made a green on your own. Pride was obviously more important than money for this match up. Besides we were all terrified the other bastards were hustling.
Jules and me knocked ours to within 40 feet of the flag. Sounds impressive for the hole was only 120 feet long and the green was only 20 feet wide. Lee caught a beauty and knocked his some 80 feet passed the green. Unhappy with this, he hit his next shot almost all the way back to the tee. Obviously he wanted to have another go at the green.
Julian took an early lead and was 2 holes up by the 4th. However pure grit and determination had pulled me back to within one shot by the 9th. Lee had learnt to control his mighty swing and managed to fluke a few holes too and by the time we got to the 13th hole it was all to play for. With Julian on 4 holes and me and Lee back on 3 we were all in with a shout.
Julian somehow scrapes through on the 15th after an unlucky bounce left me pressed up against a holly bush. With a 2 shot lead the pivotal hole played out.
On the 15th Julian hit a lovely tee shot to drop just 6 feet from the flag and looked sure to take the fiver bonus’s. However, with skill and determination I played a low shot, skimmed it across the grass to pop up nicely on the green to deny him. At around 18 feet away I eyed up my putt. I knew if Julian won this hole he’d be 3 up with 3 play and uncatchable. I studied the break and stroked it in with Vintage Faldo-esk style. The pressure was too much for Jules as he fluffed his putt, pulling me back to within 1.
On the next hole I tried to settle poor Julian’s nerves. He was obviously shaken by this set back.
“Look mate, try not to think about that last hole. About how you would almost certainly have won had I not played such masterful golf. You just hold yourself together now.”
He fired it 20 feet over the green into the rough. Holding my nerve I made a 3 foot putt to pull level.
On the 17th Julian hit a cracker. Just shy of the green he was on for 2. He was just 9 feet from the hole and had 2 shots to win. I tried to settle his nerves.
“Look mate, we all know you should have had this won by now, but you can make up for all that by simply putting this. No presh, take ya time and your one up with one to play, you can do it.”
My encouragement didn’t work. He tapped in 3 feet.
Julian’s meltdown on the 17th let Lee in for a win. And with the scores at 4, 4, 3 if he could win the last one it would be all to play for. Alas, I hit a peach of a tee shot, landing just inside the fringe of one of the world’s most difficult greens, taking the nice fiver bonus off each of them. Having seen such flair, my opponents were obviously deflated and sent their tee shots viciously wide. Leaving me 2 puts for the win which I duly converted. Leaving me a deserved and gracious winner to the applause of all those around.
It was the last night and the main bar was shutting up early. We decided to have a drink in the main cardroom. As I have said before the venue is exceptional not least for the fact a mezzanine and balcony surrounds the main room which is ideal for spectators. Equipped with a bar and pool tables we could watch the action from there.
Julian challenged me to a game of pool. He argued over what odds I should give him demanding 3/1 from me. I managed to knock him down to 13/10. However after seeing how he held is cue with the same grip he did his golf club I needn’t have bothered.
By 6 am the poker had drawn to a close and the bar had called last orders. Kila had retired for the night and Lee had taken his good Lady back to the room. He swore heds be back out but this seemed rather unlikely.
Several of the Ladbrokes staff were still around and I thought it prudent to get some drinks in before the bar shut. Not having time to take their orders I got 4 Guinness and 4 Large Jacks and coke. Hey if they didn’t like those I am sure I could find a use myself.
They didn’t like them!
Wondering how I could consume all these myself and still get up for my flights I found Lee back, talking with Adam Fergerson, the new Ladbrokes VIP manager. Impressed with their staying power I rewarded them with a share of my spoils.
By 7 am out drinks were gone and so was everyone else. We appeared to be the only people left baring those who were getting up to check out of the hotel. We ventured across the road to my hotel to order room service drinks. The porter was less than pleased but after a tenner tip he eventually agreed. As we sat in reception waiting, he walked straight passed us holding our tray.
“Where you going” We asked.
“Taking the drinks to your room.”
“Are you insane, Kila is in bed, she’ll go booloo! Give em here!”
“You can’t drink them here” He argued.
We had to follow him up the elevator and retrieve them on our room floor. Poured the coke into the glasses and then caught the next lift down. Covertly slipping out the front door while he wasn’t looking.
Now I know I am running bad at present, but how unlucky is it to get stuck with the last people to go to bed every time I go out. Why is it always me who gets stuck with people who can’t go to bed at a reasonable time.
Now It may have been the drink but I notice a stain around Lee’s mouth which I could only describe as jam. I pointed it out at which point Adam proclaimed to have mentioned it early. You aint caught leprosy have you at which point he tried to infect me. I ran for my life, in fact it’s possible the first time I’ve run anywhere in over ten years. At least since I stopped catching a bus to work.
The useless bastard still couldn’t catch me and concentrated his futile efforts instead on Adam. Chasing him off into the distance before going arse over tit onto the floor. Still stood by the door I was obviously concerned for his well being. However by now he was miles away and we still hadn’t got to the bottom of whether he was contagious. I decided the prudent thing to do was retire to bed, I’ll let the VIP host deal with it. That’s what they are for.
Monday 5th of October (After sleep this time)
Kila was up and packed and ready to go.
“Are you getting up”
“When they ring and tell us to leave” I grunted.
“brrrrrrriiiiiinggggg brrrrriiiiiiiiinggggggggg” went the phone.
“Bollox, how do they know?”
I reluctantly dragged myself up and made our way down to the hotel bar.
Tim offered me a drink but I settled for a cup of tea. I was feeling a little off colour and was sure I was coming down with something. A few people were the same so maybe there was something going round.
Lee was nowhere to be seen. I tried to call but there was no reply. Either he was hurt, more hungover than me or the leprosy had finished him off. He was hungover!
Fortunately our flight home was hitching a ride on Kev’s Jet with Julian. A 20 minute taxi ride was much better than the hour and a half from cork. And considering our tender state somewhat more survivable.
The pilot was waiting in the car park to help with our luggage. Very cool! And we made our way though the grind of airport security. Nearly 3 minutes It took! What a pain.
The Ryannaire flight had landed to take everyone else back to Stansted and the pilot ever so politely waited on the runway before taxiing to the terminal to let us through.
The flight back was not only quick but very pleasant. The views as we crossed the Irish Sea were fantastic and the Isle of Man was in clear view.
“I that one of the Channel Islands” Julian asked……………………