Well, I'll admit that I wouldn't really swap my chosen career for any other, but there are times when...
Take the last week. In fact, take the on-going trauma - will it never end? My troubles started in America, just minutes before the end of the third round of the McDonald's LPGA Championship in Delaware. Happily typing copy into my computer, the blasted thing literally blew up before my eyes.
Like a car blowing a gasket, it went 'futt' [I think that's 'Phutt', Ed], the screen went blank and smoke started billowing out the side. I desperately tugged out the electricity connection and then lifted the machine. There was a flicker of a flame and for a moment I thought the cloth on the table was going to go up in blazes.
There have been times in my past when a computer has conked out but there has always been a hope that something could be done to retrieve the situation. But on this occasion there was certain inevitability about the whole thing. I think it was the smoke, the flames and the desperate smell of burning metal that were the decisive factors.
Anyway, the only solution at this stage was to 'phone through my copy completely off the top of my head. I apologise now to anyone who read it. For the final day of the LPGA Championship I managed to borrow a computer from a kindly soul. But using someone else's machine is a rather alien situation, not to mention the fact that all my e-mail addresses had also gone up in smoke the previous evening so that even when I had written the copy I had no idea where to send it. Yet another stressful day.
The good news on my return home was that the hard drive had survived and, therefore, the files would be able to be retrieved. So I ordered a new computer and was assured that everything would be transferred from the old one within a few days. However, nothing could be done before I headed off to the Evian Masters in France.
Talking of which, that takes me on to the 'delights' of travel. I got home from America (jet lag and all) at 2pm on Tuesday, and had to rise at 4.30am the next morning to catch a taxi to the airport and get to the Evian just in time to catch the end of the first round (it's a tournament that always starts on a Wednesday). At this point, of course, I was still minus a computer. So I spent the week in France begging and borrowing from colleagues.
In fact, I spent the week going around the Press Room with floppy disc in hand, snatching a moment here, and a minute there.
We got through the week - just - but by Saturday evening I had a desperately sore throat, my head was buzzing, and I hate to think what heights my blood pressure had reached. Still, I could look forward to collecting my newly ordered machine on Monday. Well, actually, it turned out to Tuesday before it arrived. And, as I should have guessed, it wasn't as straightforward as I had hoped.
The e-mail files that I had stored had disappeared along with a couple of folders that I keep on the desktop. How was I to know that you should also keep them as a back up or under 'My Documents'?
Still, at least it works. So this is the first piece of 'copy' that I have actually written on the new computer - all rather tentative.
As for my health, it is still showing signs of stress. My voice has all but disappeared, I'm hot one moment, shivery the next and I really would like nothing better than to lie back, catch the odd snippet of the World Cup and do nothing.
But, of course, I can't. Instead, I am looking forward to yet another glamorous trip following the women's Tour. Tomorrow, I'll be up at 6.30am to catch the train to London, transfer to Eurostar, catch a connection from Lille and eventually arrive in Arras in northern France at around 8pm. On Thursday, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, it will be round one of the French Open.
Still, I suppose as long as the computer works, and I can get near a television to watch England v Brazil on Friday morning then I'll be a little happier. Just, please, keep your fingers crossed for me. Thanks.
Our thanks to Elspeth Burnside for composing this column while she would rather, by her own admission, be laying back and thinking of England.
|| 18 - JUNE 2002