Manuscript help, book reviews and author interviews
Now if you are sitting opposite the 8th Hole green at the Royal Colombo Golf Club, sipping your favourite brew in the cool confines of the spacious verandah, the focus and dedication of the golfers will surely amaze you…….at the putting green on the left, the tee-off next to it and the entire course sprawled out right in front.
Come rain or sun, they persevere! And their resolve to do better than their previous round, is clearly visible.
Golf, like all other passion is addictive and to the ignorant, may seem very time consuming. To non golfers, it seems that golfers always huddle together wherever they meet and can only talk about their swing, their chipping and their putting. One wonders whether these passionate golfers ever talk about anything else or have time to pursue other passions.
As I spend a lot of time at RCGC, reading and reviewing books and manuscripts, there have been occasions when people have come up to me and wondered what was keeping me glued to my iPad or book. Some also ask why I haven’t taken up golf, especially since I am always around at the club – because my husband and sons practically spend their entire weekend there!!! My answer has always been, that I am more passionate about reading, than about going crazy hitting the ball all over the course. It was after one such conversation that I decided to find out whether golf leaves any time for these driven people, to unwind with a good book in hand.
And to my absolute delight, the two golfers I found are not only passionate about golf, but their love for books is clearly visible, as they derive satisfaction in equal measure from ‘READING’!!!!!
Everyone at the Royal Colombo Golf Club knows Petra Morhard. After winning the 2015 Mercedes Trophy Golf Tournament at Nuwara Eliya, she participated in the Mercedes Trophy Asian Finals in Australia. And the ever smiling Dr. John Scarth, when not wearing his principal’s hat, can be seen at RCGC too. With a golf handicap of 8, the mild natured Dr. Scarth is a tough contender on the course.
Excerpts from the interviews with them………….
How many hours a week do you play golf?
Petra M: I try to play 5 – 9 hrs per week, depending on my schedule
John S: I play golf about twice a week – with each round taking approximately 4 hours.
What do you like to read ? And why?
Petra M:Daily Sri Lankan newspaper, German newspapers (online)
I like a variety of books, I love thrillers, mystery, fantasy books and of course fiction!!
John S: I like reading and I’ll read almost anything!. I enjoy historical books and I am reading an amazing account of life in the Kandy area in 1600s by Robert Knox. It provides a wonderful insight into life in Kandy and surrounding villages at this time. I also enjoy reading crime thrillers and I have just finished the latest Jo Nesbo book featuring detective Harry Hole.
I read two newspapers every day – The Daily News and The Daily Mirror to try to keep up to date with what is happening locally, but I have to admit to ignorance on the complexities of Sri Lankan political life.
I enjoy cooking and so I will always try to find another good cook book. The classics are hard to beat but increasingly there are some wonderful Sri Lankan cookery books – I just wish that my offerings were in any way as good as the photographs in the books!
One evening I was trying to read the back of a cd case and I complained that publishers are making the writing smaller each year. My friend passed me her reading glasses and suddenly everything was crystal clear: I have had to wear reading glasses every since!
The book that has stayed with you the longest- maybe inspired you or connected with you?
Petra M:I love books which have an impact on me – emotionally, educationally. Books which grip my heart, which touch me, which want me to learn more about particular situations or countries.
One of these books I have read recently is Khaled Hosseini’s, A Thousand Splendid Suns.
It is so different from what you have read about in newspaper articles about e.g. war time and how women were or are treated around the world.Khaled Hossieni is a master at showing you the difficulties and hardships in a country, but keeps you admiring all the strong people who manage to survive with humility and help others.This makes you feel grateful and appreciative of your own life all over again!
John S: Difficult!! One of the early books to make a big impression on me was Pincher Martin by William Golding. When studying the text for A level, I wrote to Golding asking for his advice for one of my essays. I didn’t get a response before the deadline for the essay so I had to write without his insight. However, some months later, I did receive a response and, in a most charming letter, he thanked me for my letter to him and then stated that he couldn’t possibly help with my essay because he had no recollection of the book at all! I’m sure this wasn’t wholly true but it did make me realise that authors are not necessarily any different to other people: they are human too.
Professionally, one of the most inspirational books I have ever read is by Trevor Hawes and Sara Shaw. Although the book has a somewhat uninspiring title “Effective Teaching and Learning in the Primary Classroom“, nevertheless it provides an outstanding guide to brain compatible teaching and learning. The books explains beautifully how children learn and, therefore, how teachers should teach. If I could have a professional ‘bible’ this would be it.
What are you currently reading?
Petra M: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight. It is about relationship between mother and teenage daughter, about peer pressure and about secrets. The mother reconstructs her daughter life going through her texts, mails and social media trying to reconstructs what has happened…. It is a very gripping book, I loved Amelia’s character instantly … you will not be bored!
John S: I am now starting The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – I have only just started reading it but I can’t put it down. I need a holiday to be able to spend long uninterrupted periods reading!
Why do you play golf?
Petra M:I love all kind of ball sports, I am also a passionate tennis player, but playing golf is different … it is all about precision, perfection and hard work.
It is also about accepting your own limits, nobody else is involved and how well you play – it’s all up to to you – there are NO EXCUSES!
Another attraction is playing wonderful shots in a beautiful environment, which always makes you come back and crave for more!!
John S: I started golf a few years ago following major surgery on my knee. Previously I had been a very active sportsman, playing football and doing a lot of road running. Following my knee surgery I was no longer able to do either of those sports. My wife Irene and I would go for walks in the country and one day we thought of taking up golf. That was in 2008 and now we are hooked! Golf is a wonderful game: it is a sport that can be played at any level by people of any age and ability. It teachers etiquette; it is very sociable and provide hours of exercise. I suppose the easy answer to the question though, is that I play golf to spend time with my wife!!!