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By Alastair Reid

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Example text

The Old Course at St. Andrews has been both cradle and model; other golf courses can be seen as variations on its fundamental setting. The Page 22 St. Andrews golf courses, four of them in all, are grafted onto the town by way of clubhouses, golf shops, hotels, and wide-windowed barsan enclosed world through which we passed on bicycles, still clinging to our immunity. We settled into Pilmour Cottage as though we had lived there forever and would never move. All year long, a succession of friends came to stay, arriving sleepily off the morning train from London and opening their eyes wide when they saw where they were.

We packed in the contents, signed our declaration of intent, made some notes on the day and on what we had just had for dinner, then sealed the lid on with epoxy glue. The twilight was deepening into owllight when we went out bearing the box, a couple of spades, and a lantern lit for the occasion. It had begun to rain lightly as we crossed the front lawn and climbed over the wall into a clump of scrub and rough grass edging the golf course. We decided on that spot because it was public ground, and we wanted the place to be accessible when the time came.

Beyond that, it grows as complex and subtle, in shading and tone, as any language does in its upper reaches. When I first met Spanish writers, I felt infinitely foolish at being able to utter no more than rudimentary observations, and I burrowed into the books they gave me, occasionally translating a poem, out of nothing more than zest. Translating was something that came to intrude more and more into my life, not so much out of intention as out of reading enthusiasm. But I felt in those first years in Spain that I was growing another self, separate and differently articulate.

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