And so to Sandford Springs for the North West Hampshire Conservative Association Golf Day. The answer to those who say that my party’s fortunes are at low ebb is to invite them to watch us on the greens; a record turnout, high morale and an excellent time had by all.
The star attraction this year was Tim Yeo, the Party’s Spokesman on Sport and a quality player with a handicap of 9.
When I was a colleague of Tim’s in the Shadow Cabinet, like him, I had to visit the constituencies of colleagues and do my bit for the Party. As Shadow Defence Secretary, I recall having to spend time yomping through Salisbury Plain in the rain, and sit for many hours in tanks designed for soldiers half my size. As Spokesman on the Constitution, I had to travel to Wales and Scotland and explain to local people why my Party was opposed to devolution and their having a Parliament or assembly of their own.
As I watched Tim, on a beautiful Autumn Day, stroll round the countryside outside Kingsclere discharging his obligations as Opposition Spokesman for Sport, I could not help but think he had acquired a very sensible portfolio.
I am convinced he spent the time between strokes explaining exactly where the Party stood on Museum Admission Charges, the future of the national football stadium and whether the BBC should continue to be funded by a Licence Fee. He certainly made a first-class speech after lunch, presented the prizes with aplomb moving driving off to another speaking engagement in Dorset.
It is in the nature of things that professional people who play golf find they are asked for advice as they go round. An accountant was playing a solicitor, and the solicitor complained that his golf partners frequently asked him for advice between holes and he felt his friendship was being abused. The accountant admitted that he had had a similar problem, but had found a solution. If one of his golf partners asked him for professional advice, he would give it; and then send a bill for the appropriate hourly rate. The problem had gone away, as news of this practice reverberated around the bar.
The solicitor thanked the accountant for his advice; and two days later received a bill from him.