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BARBICAN LIFE


he began. “Small woman. We never had kids. People used to say she’d have been crushed to death. I wanted them though. She didn’t. She loved golf too much.” He upended a pint and went to the bar to refuel. My pint was only a quarter drunk. “It came to a head one day,” he said, sitting down again opposite me at the oak table in the corner of the bar, with a view out on to the 18th green. The sun was out now, and I have to say the scene was quite pretty. “We used to play each other every week. Not at this club, over the other side of town. Then one summer, a year and a half ago, hot day, lots of people were out on the course. I’d been going pretty steadily, in fact I was up on her, maybe a couple of strokes ahead, which really hadn’t happened before… until I hit my ball on the fourteenth into a bunker. Impossible to get out, it was jammed right under the rim. I had half a dozen hacks at it, no good at all. I was for giving up, but she said, no, the rules were I had to carry on until I got the ball in the


bloody hole, however many strokes it took. I didn’t think that was right, but she insisted, and anyway I ended up picking the bloody thing up and throwing it up onto the green. Well, this was a snooty kind of club and that sort of thing just isn’t done. And people had seen us. Of course we carried on to the end of the round, but I could see I was in for it this time. I had gone too far, over the top, and I knew what was coming.” He leaned back in his chair and finished the second pint as if it were a shot of whisky. “Word got round pretty quick at the bar,” he went on, wiping the froth from his lips. His eyes were so screwed up they almost disappeared into his fleshy round face. I wondered if he was holding back tears. “No-one would even speak to me. Then Jean came over and said people were saying I should resign, or anyway not play any more at the club. Never seen her so furious. So I said something I should never have said. I said, ‘Too right,’ I said. ‘I’m never going to play golf again. And neither are


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you.’ And I meant it. Of course she didn’t believe me. But I kept my word. Every time she wanted to play golf, I stopped her. I threw her clubs away. I cancelled her membership. I threatened her friends that if I found out she had played a game I would personally come and bend a driver round their necks.”


I sat there appalled, unable to drink. “But you say you killed her, Bob. I don’t understand. You mean, literally, killed.” “Oh yes,” he said calmly now. “A few weeks was all it took. Heart attack. I could see it coming.” He looked at my glass. “Drink up, Jim, my shout.” “Just a half then,” I murmured. “And you know what,” Bob said, climbing to his feet. “Every time I find myself losing at a game of golf now, I bring that up, how she kept beating me and that’s how she died.” He let out a deep bass roar of a laugh. “Works every time.” “Maybe,” I said, “I should stick to Urban Golf.”


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