When I was getting over my CFS, I took up croquet. Brilliant game. Seriously cerebral, and you get to be out in the sunshine. But the wooden mallets that were then everywhere were pretty rubbish, I thought. Weight all in the wrong place. Too much energy loss. About as clever as wooden skis. Or wooden tennis raquets or golf clubs, for that matter.
Anyway, I started making a more perfect mallet for myself. I bought some woodworking stuff, and drilled holes here, and added lead, then steel, then tungsten there. I soon came to the conclusion that wood was just the wrong stuff. Good for table and chairs. Good for floorboards. Good for a nice log fire. Not so good for a croquet mallet.
So, in search of a more perfect mallet, I designed a shaft to be made of graphite. Which is a composite: same thing as carbon fibre, the stuff they make racing cars out of. That needs tooling, which is engineer speak for an aluminium mould that is very expensive. Hey ho. I have mates who go ocean racing, and every time they blow a spinnaker, that is very expensive. I thought two things, one after the other.
First, I thought: “He who dies with the best toys, wins”. And the best toy for me at that point was a really good croquet mallet shaft to put into my croquet mallet heads. It was just a spinnaker. So I did that. And it was pretty perfect. Feather light, with no weight in the wrong place, and with just the right profile.
My second thought betrays that I have a little Scottish blood. I am not proud of it, but I do have a careful side (careful like in frugal). I thought, “If I am making one of these things, I might as well get them to run off several, and then I could sell them, and cover the cost of the tooling”. Or perhaps it was just the spirit of an ancient forebear sitting on my shoulder and whispering in my ear, “Ach, Rabbie, wier ye jest te run a phew moore off, ye may jest recooop a wee penny”.
Anyway, one thing led to another, and eventually I got to a Series 4 head, which is pretty groovy. Graphite shell and tungsten weighting, the tungsten being provided in the form of a tungsten dust composite. I have a website at www.insearchoftheperfectmallet.com. My good friend Gavin Bow has been kind enough to manage the business with great skill; we now sell them all over the world.
Happily, there were quite a few of my Series 4 mallets in evidence at the world championships, including these:
If there were but world enough and time, I would have had the Series 5 out by now. So many things to do, and so little time to do them all…