Tuesday marks the start to Hewitt week and is one of the more relaxed and low-key days. Many schools get down to Kent early and like to practice on the Tuesday, which is less crowded than the Wednesday practice day and therefore pace of play is faster.
This year we start with slightly subdued spirits because our President is unable to be with us due to a heart condition that will result in surgery during the week (NHS willing!) Our thoughts are with Roger and of course also with Verity who will be having to put up with his constant fidgeting and worrying about what is going on. However the main point is that the medical gurus know what they need to do, and we wish Roger all the best for this week along with a full recovery so that he can be back with us next year and for many years to come.
I spent a miserable morning in the office looking out of the window and wondering whether it was cold and wet in Kent as well as London. By all accounts it was, although the weather brightened up later in the day. It looks as if we will have an Easterly or North-Easterly wind all week which means it will be cold. No problem as long as it stays dry but if we get some rain as well, both courses will become inhospitable. At this stage rain is forecast for Saturday.
The problem with trying to practice in an Easterly wind with a bit of rain, in early April, is the temptation to pack it in and head for the sanctuary of the bar. The anticipation of the week to come and the convivial company of team-mates often leads to what my wife refers to as my “old problem.” By which she means premature intoxication. The hangover caused by a cold rainy Hewitt practice day can have an effect on the Thursday results. A good team captain will guard against this – or try to do so!
I was home by 12.00pm and into my well practiced Hewitt departure routine, leaving the house at 2.00pm, then again at 2.15pm having returned to collect my gout medication and finally again at 2.30pm having returned to collect my golf shoes. Either my driving is getting slower as I get older or the traffic in Kent is getting worse because I didn’t arrive in Deal until 4.30pm. I carried out a speedy course inspection with the course manager, James Bledge. It all looks to be in good shape although the new fairways on the 3rd and 16th are not ready for play yet and I am not sure I like the dropping zone arrangement on the 3rd. I shall mull that one over during Wednesday. The Scots schools were out in force while those from the home counties were sheltering in the bar. Loretto, Merchiston and Edinburgh Accies all being on the course this afternoon with Cranleigh and Canford sandwiched between them and looking less at home in the temperature.
Having gratefully retreated from the course, I caught up with the Old Hurst Johnians (Mssrs Budge and Stratford seem to be immune to both alcohol and time) and the Felstedians. Both schools appeared to be self-medicating against cold weather to come. I then moved over to the Kings Arms in Sandwich for a light supper (8,000 calories or so – I can recommend the treacle pudding and custard) with all those people who actually do all the work of the Hewitt. The secretaries of both Deal and Sandwich, Rob McGurk from Princes, Chris Walker our Plate organiser and Jon Moore, Deal pace of play enforcer. We missed Jo Gunnell, Sandwich pace of play enforcer, sadly because the email address I have for him is many years out of date! Without these sterling supporters, I would have to work an awful lot harder and everyone else would have less fun. Jamie Warman, our Vice-President made a short speech of thanks and we were joined by Jeremy Lowe, who originated the dinner while he was Hon Sec and Richard Norris in his ongoing search for material for the centenary book. Epsom, Liverpool and Sherborne were also dining there and as far as I could tell, most of them were relying on a nice blustery cold day on Wednesday to blow the cob-webs away.
And so to bed. Looking forward tomorrow to my first appearance in the Peter Kenyon Bowl for about 10 years. Always a pleasure to play at Littlestone, although it is a bit of a trek from the Eastern corner of Kent.