A warning about the perils of corporate golf.It was a sunny afternoon in August and Gerald Hooper was playing a round of golf with his boss, Gordon Upper-Higher. Upper-Higher wasn't a remarkable player but Gerald didn't stand a chance. He hated these games.
His boss only asked him to play because he was useless and easily beaten.
Gerald knew he was Upper-Higher's 'yes' man, and despite hating himself for it he didn't see any other option. If he didn't toe the line he would be sacked, and what with the rising unemployment rates, wife up the duff again, mortgage repayments to maintain. . .well, what choice did he really have?
Upper-Higher hit a hole in one, which was highly unusual. Gerald hated it when things like that happened. It was blatantly only luck, but every time he managed a decent shot Upper-Higher was absolutely unbearable.
"Did you see that, Hooper?" he scoffed. "Did you see that shot boy? Marvellous shot, that was! Magnificent! Oh, I bet you wish you could play golf like that!"
Gerald shuffled uncomfortably and forced a smile.
"Yes Sir," he squeaked through tightly clenched teeth, "Very good, sir."
Upper-Higher carried on and on about his hole in one. He insisted on another round right away, muttering things like "I'm on a roll" and "It'll do wonders for your handicap, playing a professional such as myself" and "All it takes it practise".
The last thing Gerald wanted was to play more golf. He'd already wasted several hours of his precious Sunday, and he still had to wash his car, and he'd promised the kids a picnic. It was almost 4 p.m. and the youngest would be in bed in a couple of hours. He really did not want to play golf.
"Yes sir," he agreed. "Another game would be marvellous."
The duo clambered aboard the golf buggy and headed back to the beginning of the course. Before long, they were busily playing once again.
An hour passed, then another. Then another. And yet another. It was beginning to get dark.
"Perhaps we should call it a day now, sir?" offered Gerald.
"Nonsense!" snorted Upper-Higher. "A bit of night-time never ruined my game!"
So they carried on playing.
Pretty soon it was pitch black and the two men had lost the ball. Not only that, but they'd lost their way as well. Too sensible to attempt to drive the buggy in the darkness, they set off back to the clubhouse on foot. However, pretty soon it became clear that they were lost.
"For goodness sake, however did you manage to get us lost, Hooper?" scoffed Upper-Higher unfairly, "It's not that big a golf course!"
"Er - sorry," replied Gerald, inwardly seething yet outwardly pacifistic and limp.
The two men continued to fumble about in the darkness, but neither of them had a clue where they were going.
Suddenly Gerald spotted a light in the distance.
"That must be the clubhouse!" shouted Upper-Higher, "Clever me for spotting it, eh?"
They stumbled towards the light unable to think of anything other than whisky and club sandwiches.
It wasn't long before they realised it wasn't the clubhouse. The light belonged to a single bulb, which was buzzing precariously and seemed likely to extinguish itself at any moment. The bulb hung miserably from a tattered flex, which was draped over a high pole.
"Whatever is this?" inquired Upper-Higher. "How very odd!"
On closer inspection, the two men saw that beside the pole was a deep hole, like a rabbit hole, but big enough for a person to fit down.
"Must be workmen!" offered Gerald doubtfully.
The hole was decorated inside with hundreds of Chinese lanterns. It was impossible to ascertain exactly how far it went, but it seemed to go on for quite some way.
Gerald and Mr Upper-Higher sat by the entrance to try and decide what to do.
"Well, I've certainly never noticed this hole before," remarked Upper-Higher grumpily, "So I've no idea how far we are away from the clubhouse. It's so dark I can't even recall which direction we came to it from, so we might just end up walking round in circles all night."
For the first time ever Gerald found himself agreeing with the old windbag. It was now almost midnight and they'd been walking in zig-zags for several hours. Gerald was hungry and his legs ached.
And then it started to rain. The two men jumped to their feet and ran for the hole. It was the only shelter they could see, and it did look rather cosy in there.
The hole was even bigger than they'd first thought. It was quite high enough for them both to stand up in, and wide enough for them to spread their arms right out. They could see that it twisted and turned ahead.
"Whatever is it?" gasped Gerald, "What a highly irregular thing to find on a golf course!"
The men began to walk down the twisty turny passageway inside the hole. Soon they had dried off and were feeling much less cold, but they were still tired and very, very hungry. They had been walking through the hole for some time when they spotted a little door in the side of the passage.
They knocked, but as they touched the wood the door swung open. Gerald popped his head round and looked inside. They found themselves in a little room which looked like an office. There was a large desk at one end, on which stood an assortment of pens and pads and paperweights. The huge leather chair that stood behind it was rather old and torn, and weekly planners adorned the walls.
Upper-Higher pushed his way past Gerald in a very rude manner and went towards
"A telephone!" he bellowed triumphantly,
"Be a good fellow and call the clubhouse for help."
Upper-Higher settled himself in the leather chair and made signs for Gerald to obey him at once.
Wearily Gerald picked up the receiver and dialled the number of the clubhouse.
"Aaah," said a voice at the other end, "You found our biggest hole, I see."
The man started to cackle unnervingly. "Okay. Someone will be along in a minute."
The men waited, and pretty soon they heard footsteps coming towards them. They opened the door and went back out into the corridor to greet their heroic rescuer.
Gerald gasped and Upper-Higher yelped as they saw who - or rather what - was coming towards them. Scuttling full-pelt down the passageway was an enormous (nay humungous) cheese and onion pasty. The pasty was neatly wrapped in cling film, and carried a pile of books in its hands.
"It has hands," stammered Upper-Higher, and then he fainted into a heap.
"Are you the lost people?" enquired the pasty in a somewhat impatient manner.
Gerald stood frozen to the spot, quite unable to speak.
"WELL?" shouted the pasty, "I'm a busy man you know. Are you lost or what?"
After a lot more shouting, Gerald managed a weak "yes," and the pasty seemed much calmer.
"Come into my office," said the pasty. "I want to take some details from you."
In one athletic movement the pasty hauled Upper-Higher over its shoulder and then plopped him down on the brown leather chair. Upper-Higher regained consciousness for a moment or two and then took one look at the pasty and promptly passed out again. The upper class, thought Gerald rather guiltily, are rather wet at times.
"Name!" snapped the pasty.
"Er . . . erm . . . G - Gerald . . . er . . . Hooper," said Gerald.
"Occupation!" crackled the pasty.
"Aah, um . . . Er . . . I work for him," said Gerald, signalling the snoring Upper-Higher.
"Handicap!" popped the irate pasty.
"Oh . . . er . . . I'm not very good actually, erm . . . er . . . no."
The pasty fixed Gerald with an icy stare. "You know, you're a terrible wimp."
Gerald nodded sadly, incapable of defending himself even to a giant lunchtime snack. Gerald and the pasty sat down, and pretty soon Gerald found himself telling the pasty all his problems.
"It sounds to me," said the pasty, "that the blame lies with your horrible boss. It seems quite apparent that the nasty man has completely destroyed all your self-confidence. No wonder you're such a wet blanket, too afraid to say boo to a goose. I say we do him."
"Do him?" stuttered Gerald, "Whatever are you implying?"
"I'm implying nothing," replied the pasty, in a slightly too laid-back manner for Gerald's comfort. "I'm making a perfectly reasonable suggestion. I think I can solve both of our problems. Listen carefully and I'll tell you my story:
"I didn't always look like this. I used to be normal just like you. Then when I was just a boy, I developed a rare bone disease. The doctors said there was no hope. My parents were heart-broken and I resigned myself to a short time in a wheelchair followed by an agonising death. Then, one day, my parents heard of a new treatment being developed in Argentina. The treatment was still experimental, but it was their only hope. My loving parents, God bless them, bundled me up and we took the first plane we could get. When we arrived at the clinic, tests were done and finally the treatment began. It involved a revolutionary new technique that had only ever been used to treat woodlice. It involved extracting protein from cheese that had been processed and mixed with onion. The two foodstuffs produced a chemical that triggered bone regrowth. Pretty soon my poor bones were mended and I was able to go home. But just months later I started to notice some strange side-effects. It started with this over-whelming craving for cheese and onion pasties and then my skin turned flaky. One thing led to another and... well, you can see for yourself."
"That's amazing!" gasped Gerald, "You poor thing! But how will killing my terrible boss help you?"
"Well, after my ghastly metamorphosis was complete, I ran away and hid myself from society," reminisced the pasty with such sadness in his voice that Gerald felt two huge tears roll down his face. "I'd always enjoyed golf, and the owner of this course said I might burrow beneath it and live here, where no-one would be frightened by my hideousness ever again. In return for the land, I said that I would find and return lost golfers. Golfers rarely get lost in the daylight, so I thought my secret would be safe."
The pasty was now sobbing, and Gerald sobbed back empathically.
"I have remained here for thirty years now, I find the odd lost golfer by night, and research into a possible cure by day. It has taken me years of hard work, but now I've come up with a solution. I have built a lab. All I need is a human body, and I can transplant my brain into it."
"But what will become of old Upper-Higher?" asked Gerald, "I really need my job! My wife is expecting our ninth child and . . ."
"Oh! But that's the very beauty of it!" interrupted the pasty, "I will take over his life! I will become your boss! I will treat my employees fairly and justly! Oh come on! What do you say?"
"Do it!" said Gerald. "You are a courageous and sensitive pasty. He is a spoiled and nasty man. Take his body! He doesn't deserve it!"
The pasty picked up the still-unconscious Upper-Higher and dragged him further down the corridor to another door. He kicked it open and beckoned Gerald in. The room was filled with bizarre machinery, which surrounded a bed in the centre. The pasty laid Upper-Higher on the bed and switched on a machine. He them attached a helmet to Upper-Higher's head, and another to his own (sort of) head. He pulled a switch and the room filled with smoke.
When morning came, Gerald and the pasty, who now inhabited Upper-Higher's body, set off for home.
Poor old Upper-Higher was left with the pasty for a body, and had been ranting and raving in a most aggrieved manner when they left him (bullies, thought Gerald, are quite often terrible cowards).
Upper-Higher dropped Gerald at home.
"Be in the office in twenty five minutes, Hooper!" he shouted. "I don't care how little sleep you had! I have work for you to do! Oh - and tell your wife not to expect you home until late. I want to play golf."
"B . . . but . . . you said I wouldn't have to play any more golf. . . " stuttered Gerald. "You said you'd be fair; that you'd be a nicer boss than Upper-Higher. I helped you when you were a pasty! How can you do this to me?"
"A pasty?" came the reply, "For God's sake boy, are you on drugs? You go around telling stories like that and they'll put you away! I told you. I like golf. From now on, you'll be working 12 hours a day and then playing two rounds of golf. Like it or lump it. You refuse and I sack you. Simple as that."
Gerald stood there open-mouthed, unable to believe what he was hearing. He hadn't realised the pasty was such a bastard. He'd seemed so nice.
Miserably he nodded and walked inside to grab five minutes shut-eye.
Oh well, he thought, I guess everyone has their own position in life. This is mine.
With shoulders hunched and head held low, Gerald walked into the house. A frying pan hit him square on the head.
"Where have you been you bastard?" screamed his wife.