When Associate Editor Gwilym S. Brown worked with us here in New York he occasionally got mail addressed to Miss Gwilym S. Brown (or even Mrs. Gwilym S. Brown), which would enrage him. There is a Mrs. Gwilym S. Brown, but she is Brown's wife. However, for the past year Brown has been based in London, where he has had no trouble with his gender: Gwilym is a grand old name commonly given Welsh lads. Indeed, Brown's posting to Britain was, in a sense, a homecoming: his maternal grandparents came from Tredegar, in Wales, while his father's forebears emigrated to Rhode Island from Belper, in Derbyshire, in the late 18th century.
Nowadays the chief object of Brown's wrath is the telephone; British telephone service is consonant with the pace of British life—that is, it's leisurely. Says Brown: "It is sometimes difficult to adjust the slow pace of Britain to the faster pace of New York demands and weekly deadlines. In the U.S. you can get a lot of things done very quickly on the telephone. Here people like to see things put in writing. Nor are the British statistically oriented. It's worth your life (or at least the better part of a day) to find out how much who spent on what. Even routine statistics are hard to come by. People simply don't keep them. At soccer and Rugby matches, for instance, each journalist has to be his own statistician and timekeeper."
Last week found Brown on less troublesome grounds, those of the Carnoustie Golf Club in Scotland, and his account of the British Open, which took place there, begins on page 20. Brown has written golf for us for many years and used to be an avid golfer himself, but lately he has become increasingly passionate about running. After participating in three Boston Marathons, he has now settled on the half mile as his most suitable event, and he has discovered that if the British are, well, languid about some matters we consider essential, they are absolute demons when it comes to sport. "Why Britain doesn't produce more world-class athletes is a mystery," Brown says, "because sport is such a basic part of life here. For instance, back home Joyce [Mrs. Brown] and I figured we could take on all comers at badminton, but in London everyone is just too good for us. We've given it up. Even in running you get mass participation at all ages. It's a hobby here, like golf or tennis. You have low-handicap runners and high-handicap runners, just as in golf, and there are plenty of races where even the 2:15 half-miler can expect to find people he can beat."
Brown had got his 800-meter time down to 2:12.8 (not bad for a codger of 40) and was anticipating "dramatic improvement" when he was slowed by a bruised right heel, "the product of an excessively zealous workout with Ron Clarke." As a result, Brown was reduced to playing his first round of golf in Britain. "I don't really care if I never play again," he wrote a colleague. "I shot a 93 but had seven three-putt greens!" To us, that sounds like a man who is going to play many, many more rounds.
GWIL BROWN: OUR MAN IN LONDON