BY Russell Wardrop

DATE: 12 MAR 2012


Caesar had good reason to beware the Ides of March, what with all that stabbing. And the rest of us should take heed. If you are post-sporting career and easily forget you are the wrong side of 40, reading this might just be the best thing you’ll do today. Just as Caesar was warned, you will be too.

My ambitions this fine Sunday morning are simply to be able to get vertical and brush my teeth. Perhaps eat something sitting up. Not to have to pee into a bottle (Remember those wide-necked Paul Masson wine bottles, the Californian carafe? Well, they are perfect for flowers; perfect for peckers.) Putting on socks, going downstairs to make food and having a number two will have to wait. Along with hundreds of others this weekend I’ve put my back out, in the garden.  I say “in” the garden rather than “doing” the garden since I am not a gardener. I don’t do the garden. In fact I don’t believe in gardening, at least not as much as I believe in a 51 inch HD TV hooked up to a snazzy sound system. Not that I’m able to see that wonder of the modern world, since it’s downstairs and I’m not. I said I would help The Snip out with the heavy lifting in the garden on Saturday morning, reasoning that lifting all those big bags of compost would be a great workout, and I would be doing something of use for my love.

How wrong can a middle-aged man be? Half a dozen bags in - filling the big terracotta pots waiting to be topped-off  with lavender and after a starter of two of gravel for drainage on the bottom - I crumpled. I knew exactly what it was since it’s happened before, on the Old Course at St Andrews in a distant March. On that crisp sunny day five years ago I drove two hours and parked behind the 17th green, possibly the most famous green on the planet.  I then went straight on to the first tee and got as far as the eighth hole when my legs gave way.  What a diddy, the masseuse who sorted me said, in essence. You can’t do what you just did and expect your body not to object. I have not played golf since. Not for fear of further injury, just because it is long and boring and makes too many grown men grumpy. Life is too short to be around full-grown grumpy men wielding sticks.

It’s a muscle pull or a spasm and the pain is, briefly, quite astonishing. Before my denouement The Snip gave me fair warning, since I was apparently running about like a dervish, humping huge amounts of gravel and compost from place to place, strewing too much of it over the chippings, grass and slabs. There was no hurry, she said. We need to think about where this stuff is going, she said. A lot of it is going where it should not be going, my darling, she said. Get inside and lie down, watch some sport and make me a cup of tea, old man, she said. Too late, I said.

Too late to stop and do other things. Things I am better at, things that would not have resulted in me taking ten minutes to crawl up the stairs to a hot bath. Things that would have meant over the weekend The Snip, instead of gardening, had much care to give and cooking to do.   

My chiropractor, someone I am now on first-name terms with, tells me that now is the time of the spring of our discontent. She makes a fine living when the green shoots start appearing by treating people who need to do a bit more personal preparation before getting in to the nitty and the gritty.

So I say again, take heed. And may glorious summer show it’s all been worth it...


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about the author

Russell Wardrop is our Chief Executive. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.

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