This time we have an away match. Luckily, Short Tony is ill so we are able to persuade him to drive. Still slightly intimidated by the competition, we stand around self-consciously as the table is set up.
The format of this night’s game is pairs. I am not sure how I feel about this. On one hand it means that I have somebody playing with me who might pot some balls; on the other hand, snooker, like sex, is sometimes better on your own – fewer shamefaced apologies are needed, especially after you accidentally leave something unmissable on the table.
Annoyingly, I am drawn first. I send Short Tony coughing and sneezing to the bar to get me some emergency Abbot Ale.
My dad said to me once that a ‘proper’ sport must involve some potential element of self-sacrifice. Running yourself out to save the other batsman, for example. He is wise, and I have always agreed with my dad on everything, apart from the BBC comedy ‘The Thin Blue Line’ which, whatever he says, is shit. The senile old fool. However I have decided that I have a better definition of sport now: a proper sport must contain some potential element of making you look like a knobend in front of a crowd of people. For example the spectacular sliced own-goal. The graceful late-cut that hits your own wicket. In bowls you might send the wood down with the wrong bias on, and everybody will point and laugh and say ‘he’s got the wrong bias!!! Haha!!!’ Etc.
I am quite new to snooker, but the potential knobend factor appears to be very high, which is what makes it such a popular sport. As it is, Big A, with whom I am paired, tries a swerve shot which sends the white away at a ninety degree angle to that intended, and then later hits the pack of reds with the end of the rest. On my part, I specialise in missing the object ball completely and bringing the white back down the table into the pocket. We lose the game.
The current table reads:
Team, Matches played, Points
Other teams, Some, Some
Our team, Some, None