Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Turns out you're supposed to take that triangular thing off the balls before you start...

Yesterday, a friend and I went to a snooker hall in Camden, and played, of all things, snooker. At the table next to us were a big fat guy in his sixties, and a little wiry guy in his twenties - possibly, but not definitely, father and son. As the session went on, the younger guy was getting more and more furious at the older guy's refusal to compliment him on his good shots. What was great was how his tactics evolved.
First he tried querulousness: 'Ain't you going to say 'nice shot' then? Ain't you even gonna say it?'
Then he tried over-compensation 'Oh! What a brilliant shot! The boy's on FIRE tonight!'
Then he tried sarcasm 'No... please... all these compliments... really, it's too much... I'm embarrassed'
Then he tried retaliation 'Oh no! What a terrible miss! You must feel so stupid! That was an awful shot!'
Finally, he tried getting us involved: 'I'm sorry... did you guys hear something just then? Did someone say 'good shot'? I couldn't hear it myself...'

And all the time the older guy played stolidly on, creeping up on the younger guy's lead until eventually, right at the end, the younger guy sunk the cue ball whilst trying to pot the black - and the older guy, without saying a word, started replacing the balls on the table for the next game. It turned out the younger guy had automatically forfeited the game. I didn't know about that rule. Neither, it turned out, did the younger guy. And if we hadn't been there, I'm sure fairly sure the older guy would have wound up in Camden Hospital A and E, for surgical removal of a snooker cue.

Meanwhile, at our table, it very quickly became apparent that there was a violent mis-match between the serious, professional, 'Fast Eddie' look of this dim hall full of huge snooker tables, and our - particularly my - utter incompetence at snooker. It was like watching someone on the centre court at Wimbledon, playing Swingball. Badly. This is not false modesty - I really am dreadful. It's not just that I can't do it, it's that I have no idea what I'm doing wrong, or how to try to do it better. I'm basically just a monkey with a stick. But- and this is what I found funny, at least afterwards - none of this stopped me, every so often, picking up the chalk, and thoughtfully chalking my cue. As if that was my problem...


VB said...

The main thing I recall from my first time at a snooker table is how the television doesn't remotely do justice to the size of the thing. I want to have been there at the time its size was discussed and codified. "No, a mere 10 foot long table just isn't enough, Algernon. I demand it is at least 12 feet long and six feet wide, to stop poor people from playing it".

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