My Idea of Hell

MY idea of hell is being forced to watch televised golf forever.

Okay I’m joking – there are many things worse than that and an eternity spent doing them would be unimaginably horrible.

But most of us, thankfully, have not experienced being boiled in lakes of fire or stoked in barrels of pitch by grinning demons – instead, we must draw on our own experience to create the perfect hell.

We’ve surely all been to chronic Christmas shindigs and appalling parties where we’d rather do anything – absolutely anything – than endure another five minutes there.

‘Hell is other people,’ as Sartre warned and he was right. Spending time with ghastly people is hellish – but passively watching others for hours on end is often worse.

I should point out that all sports involve watching other people, be it football, cricket, rugby or whatever – as it happens, I don’t like them either.

Watching golf though, really is the pits.

One Boxing Day many years ago, my parents took me to see my grandparents.

While my mum and gran sat there in the lounge, my poor luckless father and myself were treated to several hours of televised golf by my mother’s late father – his sole interest in life, apparently, other than gardening.

How exactly watching a group of men in white baseball caps wandering about a course, whacking piddling little balls into holes – which you can hardly see anyway – could be construed as ‘pleasurable’ I have no idea.

You might as well watch a group of hikers strolling about the hillside for a few hours. At least then you get the scenery without the dreary commentary – and you don’t have to strain your eyes to see where all the bloody balls are supposed to have gone.

The only other time I’ve endured televised golf was with a very good friend one afternoon in a ghastly pub in Hebden Bridge – which is a shame as it’s a lovely little place otherwise.

It was a Tuesday afternoon, chucking it down with rain outside and we were treated to a non-stop procession of horse racing, golf and an irritating car insurance advert which seemed to be on a loop.

If I went to hell, that pub on that afternoon is precisely where I’d end up, only minus the companionship of my friend.

Forget the thumbscrews and the lake of fire. I’d be strapped in a chair, Clockwork Orange-style while overpaid dullards meander about whacking barely-visible balls into microscopic holes followed by commentary about as exciting as watching fermented yeast.

Samuel Beckett might well have used televised golf as his basis for Waiting for Godot. I can imagine how it would go.

Two blokes wander aimlessly around a rainy golf course, preferably one which looks as down at heel as possible.

They never reach the end since the number of holes they have to play is infinite – but they are quite unable to leave.

In the meantime, you, the audience, has to sit there and endure the non-event unfolding before you.

The Greeks had their Hades and the Vikings had their Hel, but they never had anything quite so horrible.

Prometheus, I am sure, would have taken the eagle over Gleneagles any day. Who can blame him?


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