Ernie Els must be feeling like Alydar. A couple of weeks ago, that young woman who, as a young South African golfer, had been helped by the Ernie Els Foundation, led the U.S. Women's Open for much of the first round. And that just set the table for the picture-perfect blend of sport and politics at the British Open. What better way to mark Nelson Mandela's 92nd birthday than with the victory stroll over the last six holes of the world's most international golf tournament for the Afrikaans-speaking pair of white Louis Oosthuizen (another EEF beneficiary) and his black caddie? Of the commentariat, Tom Watson seemed the most pleased to retract his Saturday morning prediction that the lead would come back from -12.
When a tribute to Mr Mandela turned out to be the first part of Oosthuizen's victory speech, it reminded me a little of Michael Chang winning the French Open in 1989. Chang handled the moment a bit more controversially, declaring his thought that God had wanted him to win the tournament as a sort of counter to the sad news coming out of China. Andre Agassi was perhaps the most prominent among those who never really forgave Chang for claiming divine favour. Serena Williams, the most frequent (far more often than Venus) God-thanker at present, seems to have learned from this, for it's one of the few things she does without raising controversy. And we have recently learned from a little-publicized Q&A after Wimbledon, about which I only learned because of a letter someone sent asking how appropriate it was to ask the question simply on the basis of his never crossing himself as many players of Spanish or Italian heritage do, that Rafael Nadal is apparently agnostic; his uncle Toni is on record as a confirmed atheist.
Mentioning Agassi reminds me that for some weeks now I have had it in the back of my mind to recommend Agassi's autobiography *Open* to those who would enjoy it. Although I merely zipped through the book in a couple of hours at the library, I can report that it ought to appeal to those who like the sort of memoirs in which the author makes no attempt to sugar-coat his opinions of his contemporaries. Out of everything Agassi wrote about fellow players, the only one about whom he said anything personally nice was Patrick Rafter. He more or less made an uneasy peace with Pete Sampras, had appropriate admiration for the skills of Roger Federer and at least managed not to write anything negative about Rafael Nadal, Goran Ivanisevic, Stefan Edberg or Bjorn Borg. But those with an appetite for snark will be amply rewarded in his commentary on Jim Courier, Michael Chang, Boris Becker and Jimmy Connors, among others.
But now we leave tennis for croquet. I am sure that astute readers, recalling this week's group of letters (on the whole, extremely feeble) will have guessed where I am going with croquet - all the way to the wonderful world of *Heathers*, of course. However, as these letters seem quite feeble, I shall not be wasting much cross-examination on them. I shall refer participants to various others in our little community.
L1: Very weird timeline here - married a month sandwiching his being laid off and having had time to develop into a nagger and verbal abuser? LW1 has apparently married Heather Chandler, who meets adversity by being as abusive of the position of Top Heather as possible. Why? As Heather says when she hits Heather's ball for the second turn running - why not?
LW1's husband should be locked in a room with Ms messy, who before she leaves will ensure that he has a thorough understand of exactly how he makes LW1 feel. LW1 herself should be locked in a room with the Submariner, who will imbue her with all the fortification required to make a suitable exit.
Moral: "Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?"
L2: LW2 is Heather McNamara, who does yield to the temptation to attempt her life but is stopped almost at once and seems to turn out more or less all right. But the whole thing leaves me wondering why on earth a suicide attempt is something that absolutely has to be disclosed. Not that I could imagine being close enough to someone to become engaged without there at least having been some opening for, if not actual disclosure, then at least for learning each other's attitudes about the subject.
Suicide is usually selfish and silly, but why so many people are reacting as if an attempt is shameful is a bit much for me. I should like to cross-examine the Prudecutor. Why so much praise for LW2's "inspiring" story? What on earth is so ridiculously admirable about being "life-embracing"? It may make for a pleasant quality in someone, but what has LW2 done other than catch a lucky break, put in a bit of work and grow up? Good for her, but inspiring is a bit much. Exactly how shameful does the Prudecutor think a suicide attempt is, anyway? Anyone would think that, as Antony Blanche would have put it, a suicide would have tortured the Prudecutor, stolen her patrimony, flung her out of doors, roasted, stuffed and eaten her children, and gone frolicking about wreathed in all the flowers of Sodom and Gomorrah.
As is often the case (a further example called to mind is that of Andrew McWhirter in *Towards Zero*) the attempt seems to have put LW2 off the idea of suicide. If anything, she might be considered less likely to make a future attempt than she would have been had the past attempt never been made. The Must-Disclose crowd would hardly, one suspect, deem it Necessary to disclose past Suicidal Thoughts, yet would require LW2 to make a Shameful Confession despite being quite possibly less at risk than she would have been without having done what she ought to be (so Shamefully) confessing.
Was there not a thread some time back about whether a past abortion constituted Required Disclosure? That would seem rather more likely a starter, aside from the moral or religious connotations, because it could well have resulted in conditions that would have an effect on a future pregnancy. Or there was the sperm donor whose DNA has successfully been passed on to a future generation, a member of which might pop up some time in the future, even if that would require some alteration in law. There are probably many things that would make far more difference to life. Not that I'd tell anyone not to disclose, or to respond to a direct question with the reply, "None of your business," or to marry someone from whom it seemed imperative to keep a past attempt a secret - it just doesn't seem the sort of thing that, were I Pope, would strike me as grounds to annul.
I think the fiance should be locked in a room with Dr Susan, who has expressed considerable openness to it not hurting just to ask a question, or even to the reasonableness of one lover being able to express to another grounds for improvement. Dr Susan would do admirably for putting the fiance into a frame of mind that would make him receptive to the Shameful Disclosure and find him disinclined to revise his opinion of her in an unfavourable direction. Going the other way, I would lock LW2 herself in a room with any one of a number of male posters who might be considered generally irritating and might even possibly intend to be taken that way. There is one who boasts of being a once-in-a-generation genius who has been a source of infinite revenue to his grateful employer - Mr Help, if memory serves. If LW2 can survive being locked up in a room with him, then she is clearly at no risk related to suicide, and may opt not to disclose with a perfectly clear conscience.
Moral: "Suicide is a private thing..." "If you were happy every day of your life, you wouldn't be a human being; you'd be a game show host."
L3: I don't care for this much, as LW3 is another one of those who tempts me to bring out the M word, and yet she gets the plum assignment of being Veronica, who tells J.D. very early on that she doesn't like her friends, but that it's as if they work together and their job is being popular and stuff. The problem is just too ridiculous for comment. It is a bit unlucky that LW3's boss is part of the problem (rather in imitation of Heather Chandler).
I shall depart from formula in selecting for this job someone who has not (to my knowledge) ever written a word I've read, although we know a good deal of this person's views. I shall also decline to have anyone locked in a room this time. Instead, the office should be paid a visit. And for this visit I can think of noone better than Mr Messy, if I may so call that new U.S. citizen. (I submitted a post of congratulations on their accomplishment to Ms Messy's page last week, but, as has happened to at least half my posts there, it was swallowed up into the great beyond.) Who better to resolve all corporate conflict and turn them all into productive and happy worker bees?
Moral: "Got what I wanted? It is one thing to want somebody out of your life; it is another thing to serve them a wake-up cup full of Liquid Drano."
L4: This week just seems to keep going from bad to worse, doesn't it? LW4 and her friend seem to be in a competition to see which of the two of them can do the best impersonation of that Supreme Wannabe-turned-Queen, Heather Duke. She placates and lives in mortal fear of Heather Chandler, only to snatch the first opportunity that presents itself to replace her. If form holds true, LW4's friend ought to have some environmentally disastrous indulgence that would be a worthy equivalent to Heather Duke's cover-up of her childhood friendship with Martha Dunstock/Dumptruck.
LW4 and her friend should be locked in, if not a room, then perhaps a pool, with Ms Mermaid, who can teach them both everything they will ever need to know about proper care of the environment and a few things they seem to have forgotten or never learned about the proper care and feeding of friendship (as well as its purpose).
Moral: "I prayed for the death of Heather Chandler many times and I felt bad every time I did it, but I kept doing it anyway. Now I know you understood everything. Praise Jesus - Alleluia!"