It was the summer of 2006 and I’d been looking forward to this weekend for several days now. As I gazed out of the office window that Friday morning, the streets of Manchester were flowing with morning commuters hurrying their coffee holding way to work.
But this morning, there was something different, and it wasn’t just that it was sunny and warm for a change!
Our office was on the third floor of an old fabrics warehouse on a side street leading down to Piccadilly Train Station. Through the office-long window you could see across the street to other red bricked buildings and then down to the new shiny glass fronted offices that had recently been built as part of the redevelopment around the station.
On sunny mornings, the contrast of the deep red brick with the sun’s rays bouncing off the office windows bathed the whole area in a beautiful (if not slightly eery) blood-red and burnt-orange glow.
Perhaps it was modern-day reminder of Manchester’s smoggy industrial struggles and successes as well as it’s bloody civil unrest.
On this morning, along with the passing throngs of dark suited men and grey skirted women, was the occasional flash of a garish shirt or a tartaned trouser.
There was something in the air.
Like a pure white swan amongst a flock of obsidian black cormorants, these rainbow coloured passers-by stood out by a Manchester mile.
These occasional eye-catching anomalies were not the normal indigenous species to roam the morning streets, but this wasn’t a normal day.
It was the week of The Open Golf Championships and these loudly coloured creatures were golf fans migrating their way back to the homeland of The Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
And tomorrow, I too would don my eclectic plumage of pink trousers, bright blue polo shirt and ‘Del Boy on LSD’ luminescent flat cap.
I woke up exceptionally early the next morning, even before dawn had had chance to show it’s crack, wakened by the same giddy anticipation that used to excitedly wake me on my teenage weekend mornings when playing for my school sport’s teams.
I donned my aforementioned technicoloured golfing costume and waited for my boss to pick me up.
I’d only been at the company for a couple of years but I’d done fairly well. From entering the world of events fresh faced and wet behind the sales ears, at first I’d been pretty awful but was always eager to learn and get better and was now holding my own with some of the best sales guys across the organisation,
I was looking forward to attending my first event and meeting some of the clients I’d arranged packages for.
The big Big boss was also going to be down from head office and I’d been told he was massive golf fan, regularly attending exclusive R & A events and having some good friends in the higher echelons of the sport.
So off I went with my manager and a car-load of very enthusiastic sales people for the short drive down the M62 to Liverpool.
On arrival we made our way to the hospitality area to check in with the other offices and events teams.
Being the top performing sales office out of the five nationwide, we were welcomed heartily by head office staff and particularly by the chief executive.
He shook all our hands energetically and informed us we had our own private hospitality table for the day and would be treated like a VIP guest, complete with five star catering and complimentary bar, in thanks for our superb sales efforts for the year.
This was thrilling news to me as I gleefully excepted the glass of cool champagne that was thrust into my hand.
I was a young energetic salesperson (fairly recently out of university), loved sport, loved people and the invitation to blow off steam after all those hours slogging away in the office was welcomed with thrown back arms, although, champagne from 9.30 in the morning could be extremely risky…..
Several fizzy drinks and a bacon roll later, we wandered out onto the course.
It was 11am now and The Open was in full golfing swing. The rolling yellow sand dunes interspersed with emerald coloured fairways and deep green snooker table like greens was a fine dining feast for the eyes.
The sun was hot, sky free from cloud and it was a barmy 25 degrees with a pleasant sea breeze,
I don’t know if it was the excitement of the occasion or, more likely, the numerous glasses of Veuve Clicquot, but my head felt light and feet heavy.
We meandered around several holes, weaving between the thousands of fans eager to catch a glimpse of their favourite golfer.
After an hour or so, we stopped for some refreshments at another of the hospitality facilities. As soon as my manager had introduced who we were with the head hostess, we once again had several grape-based beverages speeded to our willing hands.
We exited the hospitality tent after half an hour and, with an ever-widening weaving walk, made our way back towards the original hospitality facility to get some lunch.
I’d been on a couple of runs and played five a side football twice that week and combined with all the walking, it was taking its toll and my legs felt even heavier.
A few dragging strides later and I saw my opportunity, a steward was holding some of the crowd back to allow one of the R & A officials to drive through on his golf buggy. The buggy was heading in the general direction of our hospitality base and so I made my move.
Summoning up my last dregs of energy I cantered up from behind, matching the speed of the slow-moving golf vehicle and hopped on the back as stealthily as I could after several rounds of booze and semi-working legs.
To my surprise, my not so subtle rear attack went unnoticed by the driver and I was carried along on my own personal chauffeur service hanging off the back of the golf cart.
Several hundred yards later, an eagle-eyed steward spotted my unauthorised hitching and notified my driver through waving his high vis arms and shouting “There’s a bloke hanging off the back of your golf cart!”
At which point, the breaks were applied and I was, not so politely, asked to find an alternative form of transportation.
My work colleagues, who’d been watching on, obviously found this highly amusing, unfortunately my boss did not!
After years of schmoozing the R & A and securing some of the best hospitality sites for The Open, a rogue wine-filled saleperson riding an official’s golf buggy didn’t go down so well with my boss!
I was sent home and spoken to very sternly the following Monday.
I was later made sales and office manager with the company so, he didn’t hold grudges and I learnt the important lesson of not drinking at client events (particularly champagne from 9.30am) and now save the fizzy stuff for after the event!
Oliver B Pimblett