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    The Fog – Selby 1992

    The Fog – Selby 1992

    It’s that time of year when back in the day, me and my golfing buddies would brave the elements all in the name of golf and what we considered fun. These days I just have to contend with extreme heat, thunderstorms & cheeky monkeys pinching my beer from time to time, but when living in blighty, wind, rain, sleet, snow & fog would be the order of the day.

    Dressed more appropriately for an episode of “The Deadliest catch” rather than a day on the links, we would attempt to rotate our bodies around 2 base layers, 3 jumpers and our waterproofs, slowly but surely losing all feeling in our hands over the next 4 hours, how was this ever fun.

    The pinnacle of this madness was back in 1992, when the two Dave’s persuaded me to join them one Saturday morning mid-December, for 18 holes on their course just outside York, which had the river Ouse winding through the middle of the course. As I scraped the ice of my window screen at 7am, I was very tempted to turn around and go back to bed, however, one should never let their golfing buddies down, we made plans, we stuck to them pre-mobile phone days.

    As I got closer to the course in question, I noticed that my visibility had been reduced to 50 yards, probably due to that age-old science of -5 degrees + a body of still water = freezing fog. On pulling into the club car park, I recall being amazed at the number of cars there full of huddled golfers were waiting for the pro-shop to open, apparently madness was a common thing in Yorkshire.

    Twenty minutes later, the three of us stood on the first tee looking into the abyss of fog, wondering how on earth we would find our balls. Now the funny thing with freezing fog is that the deathly silence has the strange effect of amplifying all the sharp noises we experience in golf, like thud, clonk and spladoosh. As our balls sailed off the tees and disappear 50 meters later, we just waited for the resulting sound and head in that direction, find said balls, scrape off the ice and play on. Three hours and 22 holes later, it was quite remarkable how many balls manage to retain, apart from that is on a dog leg par 5 around the river, where it was near on impossible to find a line. Five spladooshes later, we just dropped and carried on.

    Despite not being able to have practice swings, as ice would instantly form on the face of your club, looking for balls that basically disappear for 95% of the round and nearly killing the group in front on 3 occasions, we did have a thoroughly good time, had respectable scores and vowed never to do it again, the box had been ticked.

    So now, when folk complain about the heat in Singapore, I just remind them that they don’t know how lucky they are and get on with it.

    What are the most extreme conditions you have endured all in the name of golf, I’d be interested to hear your stories of madness – dapper dan

     

    The Von Dapper Express – China 1995

    The Von Dapper Express – China 1995

    China was a very different place back in the day, and my times there from 1993 to 2000 are what I like to call my “Indian Dan” period, as every day would bring what amounted to an episode of “The Amazing Race Asia”. My job as a chemical engineer in the leather industry took me to over 14 provinces and although I did spend plenty of time in the big cities like Shanghai, 90% of my time was spent out in the back waters, which resulted in some very interesting journeys. 

    The benchmark was set in 1994 while travelling through Haining province east of Shanghai. These were the days before China discovered you could build roads that had more than 2 lanes & mobile phones weren’t around to help you out when in trouble. My then able-bodied assistant, Henry, (his chosen English name) decided that the best way to get to our destination would be to take a train that actually sped past our final destination without stopping, resulting in us then getting a taxi for the final leg. 

    Step one; buy a ticket from the old Shanghai train station. The best way to describe this would be to picture a million dollars being dropped on 10,000 people in a room and asking them to distribute the wealth evenly absolute pandemonium. Two hours later we boarded the train and headed for Hainan, which we duly arrived at problem free 3 hours later (you can now drive it in 2 hours btw). 

    Step two; find a taxi that loosely resembled a car, not an easy thing in 1994. After the usual 20 minute dispute over how much we should be ripped off, we left for our next port of call, a small town of half a million people in the middle of nowhere. An hour into the journey, the said taxi decided it didn’t want to go any further after its gearbox collapsed into a heap on the road, or that’s what it sounded like. So there we were, stranded in the middle of nowhere, no phones, no way of finding another taxi and getting rather cold and frustrated. As usual, my assistant was about as much use as a chocolate tea pot, so I took the initiative to stop a passing small bus that was doing the rounds and ask the driver if we paid him lots of money ($10.50 roughly) would he be so kind to take us to our hotel that was about 40 minutes away. It’s important to point out at this stage, that the bus already had 8 passengers, 2 of which were chickens, probably just on their way home from the market and looking forward to their tea, or be tea, who knows. I’m guessing they weren’t expecting a magical mystery tour of the countryside when they woke up that morning, as the sight of some extra coin persuaded the driver to conform to our wishes and head off in a totally different direction the said passengers were hoping to go. I’m sure the chickens were happy to prolong their time on this planet for an extra 2 hours, but I’m not so sure about their owners who were forced to come along for the ride. 

    Eight hours after leaving our hotel in Shanghai, we arrived at what would be my regular home every month for the next 5 years. We paid our driver and said farewell to our new found friends and their chickens.

    This whole adventure would be repeated over and over again with slight variations across China, on multiple forms of transport, each time gradually eating away any tolerance levels I had managed to build and restore when back at home base in Singapore. Thankfully, there’s always been golf to remind me why I did what I did to be able to play and I eventually managed to find the odd golf course to take out my frustration and thank my lucky stars I wasn’t born into this world a chicken in China J

    Next up, “Tails of the Gold Monkey” and how to rent your own plane in the Philippines at short notice. 

    The Singapore Shopping Trolley Dash

    The Singapore Shopping Trolley Dash

    I tried my best to play golf all year round in the UK. Come sun, rain, snow, sleet & freezing fog (that’s tail for another day), I would be out there grinding out a 90+ with a swing that at that point, never seen a lesson. Sometimes it really would be a round too far, so when the opportunity came to move to Singapore and play all year round in 30” degree sunshine, I was happy to say bye bye to the British weather and long winter nights. How I got to Singapore though, that was an adventure in itself, which I will attempt to put down in words now.

    So people always ask me, “how did you end up in Singapore”, to which I respond, “I pushed a trolley around a supermarket 22 years ago”, queue the blank look on their faces. I guess it wasn’t quite as simple as that and that it all started back in 1947. 

    My mother & her parents were stationed in the army in Singapore after the war and she would always be going on about how nice Singapore was during my childhood, so I guess I just had to give it a go when the opportunity came along. The thing is, back in 1993 when I accepted my job in Singapore, unless you knew people who had visited/worked in Singapore, or you were some geography geek at school, you just didn’t know where the “Secret Garden” was to be found. At the same time I was offered to move to Singapore, I also had the option to move to Italy and my friends thought I was mad but no madder than some folk up north, who, according to another friend of mine, told me that he moved to Singapore because he was the only person who applied for a vacancy at the job centre in Sunderland. The 3 other candidates didn’t take the opportunity due to the following reasons. One guy had just got himself a new girlfriend, one had just brought a new car and the third, well his mother didn’t know where Singapore was, something I was later to learn a common trait in Sunderland.

    So, when said opportunity knocked on my door, all I had to do, was get myself to Singapore for a 2nd interview after a 10-minute initial chat at a HK trade fair. Fortunately, a few weeks later I was scheduled to travel to HK, Korea, Japan & Taiwan for 3 weeks, with a couple of days in HK to finish off with. I convince my boss Clive that I needed a day’s rest on arrival in HK to get over my jetlag, so on arrival in the old HK airport, I was met by a future colleague who handed me a ticket to Swingapore. Straight back on the plane I got and landed in Singapore around 7pm, where I was whisked away for my first taste of chilli crabs & Tiger beer, before being dropped off to sleep for 6 hours, so I could start all over again the next morning.

    The next day, there was a very quick tour of the company facilities, before my future little boss & I got stuck into duck rice & more Tiger beer at 11am, something I would have to get use to apparently. Three hours and 6 bottles of beer later, I was dropped off at the Raffles Billiard room and instructed to woo the big boss, who was having a long lunch with friends. Now some say public speaking will be the most nerve racking moment in your life, what a load of rubbish, because as I gulped down white wine like it was going out of fashion, the next 3 hours passed in a blink of an eye and I had no idea what I had said to my future big boss, but what I do remember, was that I looked like I’d just had a shower I sweated so much.

    Then came stage 3 of the interview. On route to the airport, big boss to be stopped off at a supermarket to buy provisions for the dinner party he was holding that evening, and my job was to push the trolley around in my suit while he filled it up. How this looked to fellow Saturday afternoon shoppers I don’t really know, but what I did find out later was, that my supermarket trolley skills and candour sealed the deal with the big boss to be, and 22 years and 700 games of golf later, I’m still here, sitting in front of my PC, attempting to regale you with the adventures that were to come.

    Since that day, I’ve always thought that there should never be any excuses to let your buddy’s down by not turning up for golf at the last minute, or even be late for that matter, as technically speaking, I travelled halfway around the world to be on the first tee in Singapore and bring you balls.

    Finally, to whet your appetite, here's a list of topics I lined up for you over the next few months, so make sure you tune in to read more of the adventures of dapper dan – get in the hole!

    Next time... "between us and first class there were 10 carriages full of people & livestock, what to do..."

    • The train to nowhere - China
    • Tails of the Gold Monkey - manila
    • A bridge too far – Romania
    • 1998 riots – France
    • Taxi! – China
    • On Ya bike – Australia
    • The Crowd – Korea
    • Beerhaving @ 6.15am – Japan
    • Speed golf & beeround - Phuket
    • The Pond – Portugal
    • The Fog – UK
    • The Snake – HK
    • Crocodile Rock – South Africa
    • The Mulligan – USA
    • Bamboo Matches – Selby UK
    • Trophy Hunting – UK
    • Crazy Golf – Singapore
    • Lost & Found – Thailand
    • 54 holes/6 hours – UK
    • The Birdie – Dubai
    • The Traffic – China
    • Paradise – Bali
    • The Bus – China
    • Monty – HK
    • Should Never have been a Hole in One – multiple
    • The Boat – Indonesia
    • Sleep Walking – Jakarta
    • Customs – Canada
    • 28 Pints & Still Standing – Yorkshire
    • 3’s a crowd, 2’s not enough – Malaysia
    • Tour De Holland – 1 day