Robert in lockdown 11.06.20

My dad back on the golf course for the first time since lockdown began.

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Thanks to all who got in touch last week to express their concern after the absence of my column.

Contrary to popular belief, I can confirm that (even after 11 weeks with me in the house), my mum and dad have not done me in. They would never do such a thing – at least not until the hedge has had its second cut of the year.

As Mark Twain famously said in response to an American newspaper prematurely printing his obituary: ‘Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated.’

Readers’ concern was, nevertheless, much appreciated!

The mundane truth is that I got my days mixed up. Something that is proving all too easy in lockdown. A real shame, too, because last week marked the reopening of Scotland’s golf courses (a momentous occasion in our household) and I had planned to adopt the persona of a golf reporter rivalling Peter Alliss!

Dad and I had a spring in our steps as we stood on the first tee at Fort William but my own fine fettle didn’t last long. The fact I hadn’t properly swung a club in almost three months was writ large across my face as I spent most of the round looking deep into Leanachan forest for my golf balls.

On one occasion, I sliced the ball right into daisies where it was perfectly camouflaged. On the next tee, seeing a similar field of daisies in the rough, I teed up a yellow ball – thinking I was being smart. This time, I hooked the ball left into a field of buttercups!

My golf didn’t get much better but it was great to get out and spend some time doing something that felt like a step back towards normality.

For musicians, there is still no sign of live gigs returning in the near future so (until it is safe to get out and play live again) our lives will be very different.

We should have been touring Denmark, England and Scotland over the past couple of months and the last fortnight had gigs we were particularly looking forward to such as the Kelvingrove Bandstand and Inverness Cathedral.

We’ve had a number of online substitutes including, most recently, a version of Taste the Rain from our new album by a Tide Lines virtual choir for which we had an amazing 150 submissions. These fans joined us on screen and sang along.

Many bands and musicians are diversifying similarly. This was in full evidence last weekend which would have been Skerryvore’s 15th anniversary gig.

Not letting lockdown get in the way of a party, the boys instead put on a full day of online events: including the top five Skerryvore songs as voted by their fans; a virtual cocktail night; a virtual quiz; and an online after party.

When it is safe to play live again, it is going to be the most amazing feeling. Until then, the virtual gigs and parties will continue – and hopefully my golf will improve.