Saturday 20 March 2021

Arcane Knowledge In Two Minutes

Take a seat, to the tune of
"Approaching Menace".

Magnus Magnusson: "Name?"

Pipistrello: "Pipistrello."

MM: "Occupation?"

P: "Hausfrau."

MM: "Specialised subject?"

P: "Juniors' Rooms in golf clubhouses around regional New South Wales, and general golfing deportment."

MM: "And your time starts now ..."

In real-life, pipistrelli like to fly out of their caves upon arising and scoop up tasty morsels for their day's sustenance. They never really need to dive deeply for anything as morsels are everywhere for the taking. The same could be said for Your Correspondent, in a way. I'm more than satisfied chasing shiny little nuggets about, collecting all manner of tidbits about life and the world, while never really diving deep down into any one subject, despite the encouragement of Doctors of Philosophy among Family & Friends. 

MM: "Where will a Juniors' Room be located in a golf club?"

And yet I do hold an arcane knowledge of a sort and could probably rustle up the requisite number of questions with which to demonstrate my unique ability*. Here I do speak of Mastermind, of course, the near-perfect forum for Asperger's-scaled obsessives to shine. Except that some general knowledge is also required. Regardless, it is a serious and solemn opportunity to dazzle an audience of factoid-lovers without the hysteria of a game show.

P: "Between the bar and the gents loo."

MM: "Correct. Name the three requisite forms of entertainment in the room." 

My Special Subject: Golf. But not the usual train-spotting factoids surrounding names, dates, scores, courses or even history**. (Although I did stand upon a drenching, windy St. Andrew's for a photo opportunity on my first trip to Scotland). My arcane knowledge lies in the behind-the-scenes world of Juniors' Rooms in clubhouses around regional New South Wales, and General Golfing Deportment.

P: "B&W Television, pool table and darts."

MM: "Correct. What is the special feature of each of these entertainments?"

For a period in my childhood, school holidays were spent trooping about the countryside on the fabled Pro-Am Golfing Circuit following the unfolding sporting career of an erstwhile stepfather, and whereupon many many hours were spent trailing courses about the land and idling away in the requisite Juniors Room in the clubhouse later as the adults did whatever it is that needed doing before prize-givings, viz. pouring over scores whilst waiting for the stragglers to finish.

P: "They are Broken."

MM: "Correct. What comestibles will be offered by the gentlemen who discover you there on their many trips to the loo?" 

We had a caravan for such excursions, so in addition to visits to regional towns, there was also the opportunity to explore caravan parks between matches. Setting out always required leaving pre-dawn for some reason, and we had a second car for the towing, in addition to Mum's pumpkin-orange VW (1600 Sedan, for the oh so curious), a black Chrysler Valiant, known as the Mafia Staff Car, which tickled we kids no end. Winter school holidays in a caravan were such fun!

P: "Pink lemonade and Nobby's Nuts."

MM: "Correct. An 18-hole round of golf will take four hours to play. How long will a player spend re-living every shot in the bar afterwards?"

The days were long, needless to say, and between walking the course (Shhh!!!) and the hours in the spartan and usually very uncomfortable Juniors' Room, the space for under-aged golfers who weren't permitted in the licensed areas that always, always, had deficiently-equipped entertainments (viz. the telly won't be tuned or the channel cannot be changed; the pool table will be missing either the balls or the cues or both; and the dartboard has no darts), many hours were spent on the Practice Green, perfecting one's putt and chipping out of a bunker, if you could get your mitts on a club.

P: "Four hours."

MM: "Correct. What will a professional golf player do when they are standing idle yet conversing not about golf?"

Books and comics helped, but this was an age of small pockets and no bags, so they were invariably left in the car or caravan and imagination was the best entertainment. Lots of observations of the general descent over an afternoon of the often red-nosed and portly elderly gentlemen, club stalwarts thrilled to the back porcelain teeth their regional club was hosting the fresh young talent and occasional celebrity player from across the land, and unable to refrain from continually quenching the thirst such excitement brings on, for inst. I'd like to say that critiquing the Fashions was on the cards, but these were times when street-wear and sportswear did tend to overlap, somewhat - a bit like today - and the lairy fare was quite unremarkable for the times.

P: "Swing an imaginary golf club."

MM : "Correct. What is the percentage chance [Bzzz] ... I've started so I'll finish. What is the percentage chance a child thus exposed to professional golf will have an interest in golf or any other sport when they are an adult?"

P: "Zero."

There was the occasional statement-making plus-four ensemble ...

... But 100% polyester was rather more the uniform.

* To be fair, not only could dear Brother answer the self-same questions, but he does rather trump by additionally holding one of the PhDs about the place.

** There's only been one winner to brush up against the Golfing World, one Andy Page in 2003 whose specialist subject in the final was "Golfing majors since 1970". Predictably, any anorak-wearer's fodder.

Image credits: 1: via; 2,3: via Pinterest


  1. Actually that sounds great... other kids were stuck with far worse.

    You wrote In my childhood, school holidays were spent trooping about the countryside on the fabled Pro-Am Golfing Circuit, where many many hours were spent trailing courses about the land and idling away in the requisite Juniors Room! In the clubhouse later as the adults did whatever it was that needed doing before prize-givings, pouring over scores in the meantime.

    I have two vital comments. Firstly you were very fortunate that there was a Juniors Room. Most kids went bananas with boredom. Secondly the adults in the clubhouse were indeed pouring, but it wasn't over scores. My dad had his only peaceful time every Sunday, pouring a whiskey :)

  2. Hels: Haha! I sound like an ingrate, which was not intended :) I dare say if it wasn't for the ol' Juniors Rooms we would probably be holidaying much more with our grandparents. And of course there has to be a little word-play going on with the pours!

  3. A novel way of telling us your story. It made me smile. I gave up watching Mastermind decades ago. Very odd people taking part.

  4. Poor Pipistrello, I can imagine that children constantly having to wait like this would be torture. Perhaps I narrowly escaped this, because when I was small my father started doing some legal work for a pro-golf association, and even briefly took up the sport, but nothing seemed to come of it.

  5. My golfing days always followed a regular pattern. I would place the ball on the tee, look at it, tell it exactly where I wanted it to go, then watch it as it went somewhere totally different. It was always the ball's fault; not mine!

  6. I am all for gentleman offering comestibles, regardless of the polyester garments.

  7. Rachel: Thank you. And Mastermind has been off the playlist for an age here, too, once the show veered too close to commercial appeal. The nuttier the better, in my book. I was surprised to discover that it's still being made and there's a regional version on the telly here. Why oh why? It's only interesting when a boffin gets hot under the collar over Plantagenet succession dramas, which will only happen in England, and MM is the only presenter worth having.

    Jim: Oh, doesn't time pass so slowly when you're a child, especially when you aren't in control of the agenda? I am, however, or maybe as a result, a very patient person. I think you did have a narrow escape, as the sport can make a person quite mad and they are filled with much enthusiasm to pass on the infection.

    Cro: It's hardly a sociable sport as you have to be shush on the tee and green, then the in-between-times are spent scattered and trailing through the rough looking for the wayward balls that have gone in myriad and unpredictable directions. So you were playing the game properly, I believe.

    Ur-spo: No, what could go wrong with cultivating a hungry and forgotten demeanour to secure yourself some otherwise forbidden treats from a gentleman?

  8. A hilarious post, thanks! I am a golfer (of sorts) and can confirm ever answer is correct.

  9. Ah, though my comment was not correct, needing 'every' rather than 'ever'... so a comment as deficient as my golf.

  10. Andrew: Pleasure, to be sure! Deficiency in golf does not preclude proficiency in my Mastermind quiz. You're into the next round!

  11. I suspect the darts were missing on purpose.
    You managed to do something with your arcane knowledge--turn it into an amusing anecdote.

  12. ToF: I suspect you're right. Rather sensible to remove things with which siblings may be tempted to murder one another!

    MY MOTHER PLAYED GOLF but lucky me I was NOT INVITED!!!

  14. Contessa: I would say you dodged a bullet there but you did miss out on some terrific fashions: Tam o'shanter, pastel-coloured twin-set and culottes, and finished with pom-pom socks and bicoloured fringed golf shoes. My idea of active wear! xx


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