A gasp erupts from the crowd.

I gaze across the remains of my fifty-seventh pint in blank wonder.

The deciding black ball judders in the jaws and comes to rest immediately over the pocket; the white sits eight inches away at maximum. The player’s head drops momentarily down, resting in despair on his forearm, then he stands briskly and walks sadly from the table, shaking his head.

John Twonil picks up his cue, a cue that he’d not expected to need again this evening, steps up to the baize and it is history in the making.

My fifty-eighth pint arrives courtesy of Big A, who sits beside me muttering in astonishment. None of us know how it has come to this. The Village Snooker Club has always been officially the worst in Norfolk – that is not just idle description, but has been confirmed by countless league officials, historical records, and elderly blokes who are able to recall ‘you always used to be crap as well’.

It has become a source of some pride.

And yet, here we are, in the final, at Finals Night. On the last black, which the opposition have well and truly left. I consider sidling across to their player and inviting him to join.

It is, in many ways, incredible.

Granted, many of us are a bit better than we were last year. John Twonil himself, and the Doctor. The Chipper Barman, Short Tony and Big A have always shown excellent potential, and Mick has always been a stellar act when he is not being a Stella act. Admittedly Eddie and myself have yet to convert much of our enthusiasm into many actual frames or, come to think of it, many actual points, and have found ourselves beneath the second ‘continued on a separate sheet of paper’ point on the league rankings. But we have the foundations of being good players, ie a cue and some chalk.

The beer is very good. I will stop drinking it soon.

The beer might be part of the problem. It is a very sociable league, one which involves drinking several pints of beer so as not to appear rude. I can’t remember who it was said that making love after drinking several pints of beer is like ‘playing snooker with a rope’; unfortunately I find that playing snooker after drinking several pints of beer is also like playing snooker with a rope. Before I have the second pint I am just like O’Sullivan or Hendry, but there you go. It is just circumstances.

I do not make love after playing snooker, as I am always too pissed to open the wardrobe and get the rope.

But I am part of it – a key part. And although I was inexplicably not picked for the actual team for this Finals Night, this incredible, inexplicable, inconceivable, incomprehensible success is also my success.

“So,” I slur at John Twonil when the embarrassed silence has all but concluded. “Would it make you feel better if we repeatedly said stuff like ‘don’t worry about it, it was more difficult than it looked’ or would you prefer it if we never mentioned it again, ever?”

“I don’t really care – I’ll still feel crap,” he mutters.

Order is restored. The snooker season closes. Bowls starts on Friday.

19 Comments

  1. So he missed it then?

  2. Order is restored then, no?

  3. Maybe you’re spreading yourself too thin, Jonny. After all, not many people can find the time and energy to be crap at two sports. What you need is to settle down and concentrate on being truly awful at one of them. Only then will your incompetence rise to the ranks of legend…

  4. Excellent. Am filing “snooker with a rope” along with the other phrases I deeply love and intend to work into conversation as often as possible. It does not supplant the previous favorite*, but there’s a charm about it that is irresistible.

    *That man could fuck a cheerio.

  5. “Before I have the second pint I am just like O’Sullivan or Hendry” It is a shame you have four pints before you start playing. Will John Twonil be getting a new surname?

  6. Personally I think it’s because JB’s not fully committed to the Wii Fit regime – perhaps proper sports stars might not find it useful, but certainly snooker players might.

  7. You’re a kind and fair man, JonnyB. A lesser person would mock.

  8. Bugger! Surely a triumphant bowls season awaits.

  9. Thanks for secretly taking part in Blogging Norfolk. I have surreptitiously put your secret post up invisibly on the map, with a brief note… !

  10. Oh er well – I am not really secret. Just a bit private.

    Yes – summer is now with us and it is time to concentrate on being crap at bowls. Tonight! I am excited.

  11. The pub cricket team are turning out next week so I will be trying to capture the drama of my village blog characters fighting it out like gents in a game I do not understand.
    You’ve been tagged at the end of my blog
    http://worldfrommywindow.blogspot.com/2009/04/all-about-me.html

  12. Bowls is much more fun than snooker afer a few pints – i can only play pool while half-cut

  13. Don’t feel bad…even Charlie Brown is a legend.

  14. Is there a bowls equivalent for the ‘playing snooker with a rope’ analagy – now that summer’s here? (Assuming bowls is accompanied by as much pintage as snooker).

  15. Of course you are Jonny. Very private. Especially about your very privates.

  16. It doesn’t really work with bowls, does it? I mean, where do you go from “too heavy to hold more than one in each hand?”

  17. Love the analogy about playing snooker with a rope!

  18. I have never tried to play snooker with a rope, when pissed or otherwise, but I can imagine it to be frustrating and rather fumbly.

    Kind of liking making love, when you think about it …

    U T

  19. I find the trick to snooker is not visualizing the shot, not lining it up carefully or indeed standing on one leg leaning over the table using your cue to mark out the angles, instead i just let instinct take over.

    Which is why if I too were in a snooker team we would be in a comparable position to your fine selves.

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