Our snooker playing has reached a nadir.
The Village has the worst snooker team in Britain. We sit bottom of the bottommost league and, although we have never particularly been hung up about winning, it would be nice not to get horribly beaten occasionally. Last year we even won the odd match, but I think this raised our hopes and expectations to unrealistic levels, making this particular nadir even harder to bear.
(nb to self check before publishing that nadir is the right word think it is but may be type of small anteater)
We discuss this as we unpack our cues.
“We have gone ten frames without winning a single one,” reminds John Twonil who, as captain, has to take pretty well all of the blame for all of our defeats, to be fair. Ten frames is quite a long time, and not exactly Crucible-qualification standard. Part of the problem could be that we do not practise very much, but I am sure that there must be something else that is causing our shaky ineptitude on the baize.
Eddie arrives from the bar with a big tray of beers.
The pairings are made and Mick is drawn to go first. This raises our spirits immediately. Mick is by far the best player out of all of us; he hasn’t been able to play much recently but his reintroduction to the squad means that we have our talisman back.
Mick breaks off, hitting the white ball directly into the blue. This is against the rules of snooker, and means that we give the opposition some points. “Foul!” stutters the referee, staring in incomprehension and amazement.
“Oh,” says Mick.
This is a disappointing start. I turn to Short Tony, who is on next. Perhaps it is his day for feeling lucky. He explains that he had driven all the way to Norwich in the lashing blizzard earlier in the day, only to have to return immediately when his entire car window fell out. He does not feel lucky today. This is reflected in his performance.
Unusually, I am quietly confident about my own match. I have been doing a bit of self-analysis recently, and have identified that I need to hit the cue ball with a firmer action, and straighter, so that the object balls go nearer to the pockets. So much of snooker is in the mind.
“Fifteen frames,” mutters John Twonil as the five of us mooch back to the car afterwards. He is right to be dispirited. This is becoming like one of those situations when you become the ‘and finally’ feature on the local TV news.
We attempt to keep our spirits up on the snowy journey home. I lose control of the car and almost kill the entire team.