We decided on The Bricklayers Arms as the perfect place for our Gin Club Pool Tournament.
Now, we are probably the worst pool-players in town. Make that definitely. But hey, being that dysfunctional makes it almost into an art form. Loser stays on, chaps! And we do just love playing with balls. It’s all about technique, the loose elbow, splayed fingers, secure grip.
I trundled down Bell’s Hill, all psyched. I snaffled Just Boring for my team as she can be relied upon to be snarly when it comes to the crunch. Yeah, you don’t need a drippy hippy partner for pool. Mad Lucy’s witchy black magic ain’t gonna get her far when it comes to a sticky situation over a pound note, methinks.
The barman helped us set up the balls in the triangle thingy. He was laughing at us already. He kindly suggested putting our gins onto a table a bit further away from the action.
Hav U chalked her cue, eyes narrowed and looking scarily like a pro. ‘You can be on our team,’ Just Boring said.
‘You will regret that,’ laughed Hav U. Yeah, we did: she couldn’t pot a ball to save her life.
Mad Lucy was investigating the cue rest. Dammit Janet thought it was a branding iron. Yeah, she’s from Colorado. The barman laughed again on his way past to the garden. ‘You can’t do that!’ he said.
‘Why not?’ asked Mad Lucy. ‘We need all the help we can get.’
I love the whole chalk thing: I chalked my cue and gave it a good blow. I also like to give the balls a good smack which doesn’t often result in any potting.
Dammit Janet did a bit of measuring up before her shot, ooh fancy.
Just Boring managed to hit a red but Mad Lucy was unfortunately getting the hang of the game: ‘That was a red wot you just made move but you’re not on my team,’ she complained.
Her next shot, Just Boring put the white down. Two shots for our opponents. ‘Not that that will help us any,’ said Tu-Gin-Su.
‘Just watch where you put it, alright?’ advised Mad Lucy as Dammit Janet leant over for a long shot with one leg hoiked up over the table edge.
I tried to remember Fred’s advice: go softly softly and try to leave the balls nearer the pockets than they were before. Problem: the drunker you get, the harder it is to hit the blinkin white ball, let alone get that one to hit another one.
‘Chalk! More chalk!’ Su urged Mad Lucy. She, however, was too busy complaining about her squeaky new implants. ‘My old mattress-quality PIP ones were much better than these,’ she claimed as she lined up her balls. ‘These ones go ‘eek eek eek’ when I’m going up the stairs.’
‘Concentrate!’ urged her team. She did a tremendous yet random three ball plant which furthered them none.
Hav U potted a ball. ‘And it was the right colour,’ she crowed. Then she potted one of each colour. ‘Yeah, I wanted it to be even. And I felt sorry for the other team.’
Tu-Gin-Su had a most unorthodox overarm cueing action going on. ‘We’re red aren’t we?’ she asked.
Onlookers were drawn in to our increasingly flustered attempts to get the bastard buggery balls in. You know it’s going badly when everyone around, including you, starts offering helpful advice. My nuggets were: ‘Smack it in! Smack it!’ and ‘Hit it at the bottom otherwise the white will….oh, too late!’
Mad Lucy tried one of those advanced shots where you jab downwards at the white. ‘I’ll be your backstop,’ offered Tu-Gin-Su. The white skittered off to the side, hitting no balls. ‘Well, that doesn’t work, clearly,’ said Mad Lucy.
Just Boring screamed. She had potted a yellow. Rejoicing and hugs happened. We live for these moments.
Tu-Gin-Su tried a longer cue. Long is good. We like em long. Nice smooth back and forth action. Luckily a cool breeze was blowing through from the open doors and windows. There is a flowery bowery deck out back. Sunny, with a whole load of beer in barrels, always a big bloke-magnet, if you happen to have any with you.
Jeez, I’d only looked away for a second, but Mad Lucy had managed to get herself tangled up in an assortment of cues and branding irons. Luckily it was all for show as none of them were near the white nor black. ‘Can I pay you to take my shot?’ she asked Dammit Janet.
We had to have another game and more drinks, as we couldn’t face leaving: from the Bricklayers it’s majorly uphill in almost all directions. That’s ‘Eek, eek, eek,’ all the way home, for some of us.
Top Tip 1: When the pubs in the centre of town are packed out and you can no longer hear yourself think, ramble over here for some relative peace and a table to yourselves.
Top Tip 2: If you accidentally lose control of your cue and poke your opponent’s buttock just as they are drawing their cue back, it wreaks havoc with their shot.