A Good Sport
Agnes had been unlucky in love, but perhaps this time would be different . . .
WHO’S that, Agnes?” I asked as a tall, rather good-looking grey-haired gentleman walked through the door into the bar.
“That’s Edward. He started coming to the golf club a few months ago.” My friend smirked and smoothed her bobbed hair. “I saw him first, so hands off.”
Being seventy didn’t stop Agnes trying to attract a man.
I looked across and saw Edward chatting to Ronald at the bar who was making him a coffee.
“He’s single and divorced. I checked,” Agnes said.
She stood up and waved. “Yoo-hoo, Edward, would you like to sit with us?”
Edward nodded and wandered over, settling on the sofa across from us. His smile revealed a perfect set of teeth, his lemon polo shirt enhancing a golden tan.
“Morning, ladies. Have you been out for a round?” He looked at me with his steely blue eyes. “Sorry, I don’t think we’ve met.” “We haven’t. I’m Jill.” “Edward. Pleased to meet you.” He leaned over and shook my hand firmly.
“We’re just off to the driving range,” Agnes butted in, “to knock off a few balls. Care to join us?” She touched him lightly on the hand.
“It’s a kind invitation, but I’m playing my son-in-law, Scott, in five minutes. Another time?”
He seemed to gaze directly at me when he said that, but perhaps I was reading too much into that look. He finished his coffee while Agnes prattled on about the spa day she had just treated herself to. Lucky for some, I thought.
“Cheerio, then,” he said and left.
Agnes and I went to the driving-range.
“Isn’t he dreamy? And such a gent. You don’t find many of those these days. You should look for your own fella, Jill.”
“I’m in no hurry, Agnes. I’m still recovering from the last one. I’ve looked online but not many men are looking for a fiftysomething, slightly overweight civil servant, are they? It’s the same as when they’re looking for a new car: they want a younger model with sleek lines.”
“You shouldn’t put yourself down, Jill. You have lovely hair and a pretty smile. I’m sure there’s someone out there for you.”
Agnes turned, carefully placed her first ball on the tee and swung her club. It was a good shot. She looked pleased with herself. “Beat that!”
My club slipped in my hands as I connected with the ball.
“I think I need more practice.” I felt myself blush.
“Never mind. You are a newbie.”
“I know, but when I took up golf a few months ago, I hadn’t envisaged how rubbish I would be at it.”
Somehow, I got into my stride and the rest of the balls fared better. Agnes’s shots were amazing. If I ever got to be as skilful as her I would be delighted.
A former hair salon owner, she could be bossy when explaining the finer points of golf, but her heart was in the right place and I knew she was lonely on the days when we didn’t come to the club.
After our practice session, I gave her a hug.
“Thanks for your help. See you next week.” I winked. “Good luck with Edward.”
She chuckled and waved as I drove off.
The next Saturday when I arrived, Agnes was sitting in the bar, Edward beside her. She waved me over.
“Hello, Jill. Edward’s joining us this morning on the range.” She looked pleased with herself.
“Let me get us a drink and I’ll be with you,” I said.
“Allow me,” Edward said. “What are you girls having? Coffee?”
He strode to the bar, then he wandered back, patting his pockets and looking sheepish.
“I’m sorry, I must have left my wallet in my other trousers. I won’t be able to treat you lovelies after all.”
“That’s all right, Edward. I’m happy to pay.” I went over and bought our drinks.
“You’re very kind. I’ll pay next time,” he said as I returned
with the laden tray.
At the driving range, Agnes stumped up the cash for Edward’s bucket of balls while I paid for mine. I warmed to him. He seemed good company and was complimentary about my paltry efforts at golf.
“Bad luck. You nearly had it that time.” He stood behind me and attempted to position my arm. “Now, follow the ball through like this . . .”
His closeness made me uncomfortable. What would Agnes think? I glanced over at her. She did look somewhat put out.
“Doesn’t Agnes play well?” I said loudly and diplomatically. “Let’s go and watch her.”
Agnes seemed to brighten up, though the way she flirted with Edward was becoming embarrassing. I went back to practising my golf shots and pretended not to hear their cheeky conversation. Half an hour later, Agnes had decided to treat Edward to lunch. I excused myself.
“I can’t thank you both enough for getting me out of a hole,” he said, and laughed when he realised the pun. “I’m sorry you’re not joining us, Jill.”
He leaned in and kissed me on both cheeks, and I got a waft of his strong lemony aftershave.
“Bye,” I said hastily and slipped off to the ladies’ changing room to get out of my uncomfortable golfing shoes. As I was leaving, a dark-haired woman came up to me.
“I see you’ve met Edward.”
“Yes. He’s been giving me some help with my swing.”
“Did he have his wallet with him?” she asked, one eyebrow raised.
“Actually, no. He’d forgotten it.”
The woman lowered her voice.
“Just watch him. He has a habit of doing that. He’s working his way round all the women at the club, and he never repays anyone.”
“Oh.” I was shocked. “Thanks for the warning.”
I would have to warn Agnes, too, though I doubted she would believe me. She was already besotted.
I rang her the next day. “Hello, Jill. I can’t talk long – Edward is taking me shopping.”
“Oh.” Things had obviously moved on. “I see. Well, actually it’s Edward I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Sorry, Jill, Edward’s just pulled up outside. Such a smart sports car. I’ll ring you back later.”
“OK, but be careful.” But she’d already put the phone down.
When she rang that afternoon, Agnes was full of it.
“Edward and I had such fun yesterday. I treated him to lunch. He has very good taste. He knew exactly what wine to order to go with our meal. We decided to splash out and have the steak, too.”
“You mean you splashed out on the steak,” I said crossly.
“Don’t be a grump because I’ve caught myself a man and you haven’t. Sour puss.”
“Sorry. How was your shopping trip?”
She told me he had treated her to a cup of coffee, then realised he’d left his credit card at home.
So when he had seen a blue jacket he wanted – that matched his gorgeous blue eyes perfectly, she said – she had lent him the cash.
“Oh, Agnes, you didn’t!” “Why not? He’ll pay me back.”
I took a breath, then revealed the bad news.
At first, she was indignant, but when I told her what the lady in the cloakroom had said, the penny dropped.
“Oh, Jill, I feel such an idiot. I was flattered, but now, oh, I’m so angry! What can we do to stop him? I don’t care so much for myself; I can afford it. But it might be different for other women.”
“Well, I had a word with Ronald, the barman at the club. We have an idea.”
Edward walked over to meet us as soon as Agnes parked.
“Edward,” Agnes gushed, “how lovely to see you. Thanks for joining us.”
“The pleasure’s all mine.” He gave her a hug.
I felt sick. What a toad. “Have you got the golf balls?” I whispered when Edward was out of earshot.
“They’re in my pocket,” Agnes hissed. “Ronald said they’re the ones Edward uses.”
The first hole went without incident, though Agnes played like a beginner.
“Goodness, I’m off my stroke today. Looking at your handsome face is putting me off, Edward.”
She giggled and he chuckled as he potted his first ball for a par three. Agnes took six shots and I took eight.
We played the second hole the same way.
“Looks like it might be your day, Edward. Do you fancy a little bet on the result?”
“Good idea, although I’d feel mean taking money off you,” he added.
“That’s OK, there’s a long way to go yet – though I won’t mind if you beat me,” Agnes chirped. “Shall we say a hundred pounds?” She turned to me. “You don’t have to bet, Jill.”
“That’s a relief! I’m bound to come in last. Go ahead, Agnes.”
As she hit the ball, it flew straight into the air and seemed to go for miles. Suddenly she’d found her form.
“Good shot!” Edward called. “Your turn next, Jill.”
My pathetic attempt didn’t go far, as usual. I watched as Edward’s ball took flight.
“Oh, smashing shot, Edward,” I said.
When we neared the green, Agnes was waiting for us. Edward’s ball was in the bunker. He’d expected it to be on the green, and it took him ages to find it.
This bad luck was repeated over the next few holes.
“I don’t understand it,” he muttered, swiping at the grass with his club. “I can’t remember when I’ve played so badly.”
We changed tactics at the last hole. Edward took his turn, and when we reached the green Agnes was there, grinning.
“Edward, you got a hole in one! You know what that means, don’t you? You have to buy everyone in the clubhouse a drink.”
I’d have to warn Agnes, though I doubted she’d believe me
Waiting at the bar was a group of ladies, all known to Edward. In on the plan, they cheered when Agnes announced that Edward had managed a hole in one.
He went through the usual routine of checking his wallet.
“I’m afraid I’ve mislaid my card.”
“That’s OK,” Ronald said from behind the bar. “I’ll start a tab for you. You can pay the club tomorrow.”
“Don’t forget you owe me £100 for winning,” Agnes chipped in. “And there’s the matter of a certain jacket.”
His face red, Edward beat a retreat to make a phone call.
His embarrassed son-inlaw turned up to settle the debts. We heard the argument in the car park.
“Every month you’ve pulled this caper,” his son-in-law shouted. “Well, that’s the last time I’m bailing you out. And your rent-free stay with us is over. We want you out by tomorrow.”
“Where will I go?” Edward pleaded.
“You’ll find some other mug to put you up. I’m past caring, and so’s Sue. We’ve had enough.”
Agnes and I looked at each other. Lesson learned, we decided. And we burst out laughing. n