MY "DRIVING AMBITION"

Last month, I enjoyed one of those ordinary days that became extraordinary by the presence of a father who took, for an early-birthday treat, his soon-to-be 16-year-old son, Zach, on a long weekend trip to Southern California. Zach wanted to visit Hollywood, and to take the Warner Bros. studio tour, which ends with the Warner Bros. museum (and its Harry Potter exhibit). Zach’s dad, Chad, has loved Doctor Who for most of his life. We met in Chicago twenty years ago, when he was a young fan of Doctor Who and U.N.I.T.

So my wife, Jennifer, who is an Executive Assistant at the studio, arranged the tour booking and a pass onto the studio lot. On the day of the visit, we rose at 6:30 a.m. and went to meet Chad and Zach in the lobby of Jeni’s office forecourt (decorated with even more displays of Harry Potter, as well as current films, or “properties” as each project is called in Jeni’s Consumer Products division). Zach is such a wonderful soul who is intelligent, sensitive and strong; he knows who he is and will do well in life once he takes and recovers from the knocks all of us encounter in our lives. Meeting Chad and Zach was a splendid beginning to the day, and we wish them and the rest of their family only the best in life, and of course any success they may earn.

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Today we begin another weekend, which seem to come around with amazing speed these days. We will climb up and run down our mountain trails, and enjoy the stunning, though hazy, view of our home in the San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles.

In addition to our regular trips up the mountain, I have a “new” physical pursuit which I am now reintroducing to my life, something that I had thought may no longer be doable for me, for various reasons, and that something is Golf. I used to be a good long-hitting golfer, and I played with lots of celebrities. Pat Troughton and I used to play two or three times a week, for a period of ten months at the actors’ golf club in Sudbury-on-Thames. It was a wonderfully happy period of my life, with Doctor Who under my belt, and golf was the only sport I was good at.

I had not played for many years, and have only played a few times since moving to America two decades ago. Most of my equipment was old, worn, or non-existent, which is one of the reasons I have barely played for so many years. Jeni and I do not have credit cards (neither of us ever have), we purchase higher-priced items the old-fashioned way, we save up and wait until we have the cash in hand to pay for what we want. Once I decided it was time to return to playing golf (this had a lot to do with the inspiration provided by Tiger Woods’ playing), it took me eleven months to buy each item, one at a time. This takes a long time, but it suits us to live in this simple way. So, kitted out with my beloved old golf clubs (bought in approximately 1971) and their newly-replaced grips, my new bag, glove, shoes, and trolley (all things you cannot really play golf without), I went to our local driving range.

You can imagine my apprehension. Could I still play? Do I still have the ability? Did I waste our hard-earned money? Well, all was answered once I arrived at the driving range, nestled in the mountains on the North-East side of Burbank. I exercised for a half-hour, test-swung in a relaxed manner, thought my shot through and visualized where I wished to see the ball land. I took out my 5 iron first, and hit the ball straight up the middle. It felt so rewarding. I went down to my 9 iron with the same result. Then, like all golfers, I got a touch complacent and a little too sure of myself. I could not wait to get a driver in my hands and hit the bloody “big one”. So what do I do? I get my 2 wood out (an old-fashioned “wood”, actually made of wood). I hit the ball so badly, and followed it with eight more bad, useless drives, until I went to my favorite wood for fairway length, the 5 wood. I proceeded to hit twelve perfect drives, followed by fifteen chip shots. I could not believe it. My spirits rose as my balls ran out (if you’ll excuse the expression).

I packed up my lovely bag and headed to my car, head held high, feeling like one of Tiger Woods’ shoe laces. I drove down the hill into the valley, then home for a cup of English tea, attempting to wipe the smile off my face. I can hardly wait for my first proper round of golf in over fifteen years. How nice it would be to “find my game” once more.

Now, at my age, I have one of the great loves of my life back; playing golf again, after so long an absence. How hard it is to hit that little ball, and then so far and so straight. I am thrilled to admit it all came back pretty smoothly on my six visits to our driving range, tucked so beautifully in a tiny valley, nestled in the foothills of Burbank, California.

On the subject of Burbank, I must admit that being in this marvelous, mostly-mild, pre-Summer weather. So I thank America for that, and the sun for this wonderful moment in time.

As you might see, we hope to have a convention tour in your country. So if you get the opportunity, please see me in Atlanta at TimeGate on the Memorial Day weekend (thank you everyone at TimeGate), or at one of my (hopefully) five Jump Con appearances at various points on the Eastern end of the US (dates and locations to be found in my Events page ~ if they’re not posted there now, they soon will be). My thanks go out to the organizers of Jump Con, and Emily who is booking me for these events. This could not have come at a better time!

So here we are at the end of another week of life! What footprint did we leave in our shadow? Did we progress in any of our plans/dreams/expectations? Did your life feel better or worse? Did all the items that wear you down wear you down even more? Or have you found your own little victories in your everyday life that reaffirm your beliefs that leave you feeling contented?

Life, as I see it, is best lived simply. I rarely enjoy parties; mainly because of the tedious repetition of introductions to people I will never see again. But perhaps that is just me: a little too English, a little too reserved.

Take care of yourselves, and remember to smile at someone who may need it. Until next time, drive safely, as we old golfers say. Good luck, and may your god go with you!

Fondest regards,

John

 

 

© Copyright 2011 John Levene Sgt. At Arms
Doctor Who is copyright © British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 1963, 2011.
No infringement of this copyright is either implied or intended.