I remember it so vividly. It still goes round and round in my head. I was just 16 years old and had just watched one of the greatest sporting events of all time. St. Andrews, home of golf. It was one of golf’s most exciting afternoons. The most successful golfer in history Jack Nicklaus was coming up the 18th hole. 20,000 people shifted from a loud raucous din to hear-a-pin-drop silence as he bent over his putt. Then delirium again as the ball disappeared. Nicklaus had won the Open at St. Andrews - again.
Half an hour later I was leaving the course and to my right I saw him. Jack Nicklaus, walking towards me. I stopped. He came straight at me. He was right beside me, smiling, with the Claret Jug under his left arm. Imagine shaking hands with Jack Nicklaus with the Claret Jug in his hand. I froze. Smiled. BUT didn’t reach out my hand! Oh the regret!
My daughter Jasmine asks how our brains work 24/7, even while we sleep but when we open an exam paper or bump in to a celebrity it goes dead!
My mate David Dark has a method of overcoming that brain dead awe when you meet a celebrity. He always has a question in his head. For Bono for example he would ask “How much Flannery O’Connor have you read?” When we met Bono backstage a couple of years ago, those words were in my head! Thankfully I didn’t need it as we got talking about mutual friends but it lingered just in case! A question to avoid the gaping mouth idiot look!
That in turn reminds me of Joan Osborne’s song One Of Us. You remember ‘what if God was one of us”. One of the lines Joan sings is “What would you ask if you had just one question?” A question to God. Just one. There’s a thought to pause for and not just for one morning. Always good to have at the ready though. I’d love to ask, “What have we gotten most wrong in our understanding of who you are?” And… “why did my brain go dead when I met Jack Nicklaus?”