Real Lives: Top man Charlie’s on course for retirement

Head doorman of the Caledonian Hotel Charlie Rodger
Head doorman of the Caledonian Hotel Charlie Rodger
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CHARLIE Rodger, the cheerful chappie on the door at the Caley, won’t be tipping his top hat at passers-by any more. Golf, the game he’s crazy about, has got to him.

“I’ve always said that if I couldn’t play golf I’d rather be dead,” says Charlie, “and I felt like death when, a few weeks ago on my home course at Monktonhall, the pain in my legs and back was killing me.

“Unfit for work, so I’ve given up at the hotel. This time for keeps. They’ve been very good to me. Manager Willy Blattner says he’ll have me back when I’m ready but really it’s time to retire, once and for all.

“I’ll be 75 in March and I’ve been playing golf since I was ten. It’ll be a wrench handing in my topper, so to speak. In fact, the weighty top hat, an essential and the most expensive part of my uniform, is coming with me. Three hundred quid’s worth when I bought it a long time ago.

“I’m going to miss the hustle and bustle at the West End. No denying that. For 30 years or so, I’ve been on nodding terms with countless people. Latterly, I was on duty only three days – Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays – but it was proving too much for me.’’

Charlie calls himself a Musselburgh man. As a schoolboy, he worked in his mother’s fishmonger shop on the High Street there and he opened his own shop, selling fish for ten years, in Portobello’s Brighton Place.

He quit to man the door at the Caley – and to devote more time “gowf,” as he calls it in his Musselburgh lingo. He still can’t – won’t – get the game out of his system.

“My plan, and my wife calls it the master plan, is to play twice a week on the smaller Monktonhall course over nine holes in the middle of Musselburgh racecourse and here’s how I propose to operate –I was out shopping with the wife the other week when we spotted a shooting stick for six quid and you’ll never see me on the course without it.

“And rummaging around at car boot sales at East Fortune I nabbed a wee club at three quid. I reckon I’ve a long way to go. My grandfather was 93 when he passed on.”

Charlie Rodger, from Edinburgh’s longest-serving doorman to grand old swinger with his prize collection of four sets of clubs and 30 putters. Poor Mrs Rodger!