. . Blackpool at the Fair for the Open. Great scenes, great scenes. A bracing stroll along the promenade towards The Shambles, the hotel of choice for the discerning Herald writer, increases one's cholesterol by 10%. Such is the miasma of saturated fat, laced with alcohol fumes, that one is 2lb heavier at the end of the walk but totally relaxed about it.
The Shambles is a wonderful hotel, though a quick keek at the register surprisingly revealed no sign of the presence of Mr T Woods, presumably because he did not want to be distracted by Bingo Tuesday or Karaoke Thursday.
The scale of the attractions in the environs of The Shambles is considerable. It is next door to The Sands, where one of my favourite albums of all time was recorded when Frank Sinatra produced heaven with Count Basie. A curiously understated place, not heaven but The Sands, South Pier.
It vies, though, with the thrill of the stall where you "can watch your own donuts being made". This has become an almost sacred spot for one of Team Herald. Attempts to drag him down the road to Royal Lytham and St Annes have been met with the pithy response: "Watching a donut being made beats peering at a Yank hitting a ball with a stick into a dune." It is that sort of clinical summary that has made him such a celebrated golf correspondent.
There is also a hypnotist next door called The Mentalist. He is presumably from Glasgow and sends you to sleep and then sticks the head on you. Now that's mental.
Which brings me nicely to the clinical disorder known as watching sport outdoors. It is an affliction that affects us all. The fitba' punter is the most distressed. Once he stood up to his oxters in effluent as he watched the greats. Now he sits in great comfort while he watches effluent.
But in Blackpool it is the golf spectator who captures the heart. Winding my way (it is those alcohol fumes) to Royal Lytham, one witnesses the great golfing public in all its glory and it is an inspiring sight.
Tens of thousands of people are full of vim and vigour for a day spent just outside of Blackpool in summer. This means they carry more equipment than an average Everest expedition. Underneath the umbrellas, the golf pilgrim marches with a backpack that includes everything apart from a radiation suit, though, if the tournament was played outside The Shambles, then that would be more than handy.
The golf punter shells out enough dosh to bail out Sevco and then heads to stand on a piece of grass in the rain. Alternatively, he/she walks on pieces of grass through the rain, variety being the very spice of life.
At regular intervals, young men who have hit a golf shot will walk past them as if they do not exist or, in exceptional cases, scratch their foreheads dislodging, ever so slightly, their caps.
The elder statesmen and stateswomen of the spectator clan do it all differently. They squat around the greens, or "the mown bits" as our erudite golf correspondent explained these 18 curiosities to me over a glass of hot milk laced with Tramadol the other night.
Their reward for this stoic immobility in the face of weather conditions that would keep a trawler in port (or any other fortified wine) is to be hit at regular intervals by a little white solid object. These paragons of forbearance laugh at such assaults which are forgiven because the assailant wielding a club has shouted fore from up to 300 yards away.
This is akin to The Mentalist roaring "fore" before he sticks the head on you.
It is an example of how sporting spectating punters are the great wonders of the world with their patience, their resilience and their sheer indefatigability, as George Galloway remarked to Saddam Hussein on that particularly drizzly Muirfield afternoon of 2002.
The golfing public deserves to be applauded as if it has jointly completed a grand slam of majors. They remain in post at the Opens like the most faithful of soldiers. And Team Herald stands alongside them.
However, we have a compelling motive. The alternative, after all, is going back to The Shambles.
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