Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Two dinners

Last week I googled "the responsibilities of a best man."
It was in preparation for my debut in the role at my brother's wedding later on this year. A lot of it seemed straight forward enough but no matter which site you looked on, they did all emphasise one common theme. The need to be always on hand and available to the groom in your responsibility as best man.
My first test of this was to come sooner than I had expected.
At my brother's stag do last weekend in Marbella I knew a lot of the guests. In fact I knew them all quite well, but they didn't all know each other. I imagine this is one of the main purposes of stag do's. For the wedding guests to get to know each other before the wedding.
Try as I might inevitably this ended up in people breaking up into smaller groups as the day went on. Personally I had no problem with that. But it did leave me in a precarious situation. I was caught between several groups. For the most part everyone got on but it did throw up one interesting conundrum for myself.
At 8pm on Saturday I was starting to get hungry. One of the groups I was with offered me to come get food and I didn't need a second invitation.
After a nice meal I'm walking down the road on the way back to the hotel and who do I bump into only the groom himself.
Unbeknownst to me he had actually gone back to bed for the afternoon and was now ready for dinner.
"You coming for food?"
Without a moment's hesitating I agreed.
People talk about moments of fight of flight in life but this was really only a moment of one option and that was to fly. What am I gonna do, say I just went for dinner with all the others without you?
I could probably eat another starter anyway.
Walking down the road a stark realisation hit me. We would almost invariably completely definitely end up back where I was.
Not more than ten minutes after I left the restaurant I was walking back into it.
"Back again?" The waiter quizzed jokingly having just served me no more than ten minutes previously.
To be honest it wasn't a massive restaurant but I did think it was big enough for him, especially with me being part a group of six, to have forgotten me.
No chance.
Taking our seats at this point I was just going to fess up but then I thought to myself "if I can eat the soup for starter surely I can find it in myself to eat one more main course as well?"
I owe it to the founders, hell the forefathers of hilarity to order the main course as well.
It was settled.
"Back again?" The waiter repeats looking at me and me only as he comes back over to take our order.
I smile but again don't acknowledge it. At this stage I'm in it as much for my own amusement now. No point walking straight back into a restaurant and ordering a second meal without playing nonchalant about it as well.
To his utter disbelief he takes my order and then as soon as the pen leaves his pad dashes straight back to the kitchen to tell everybody what has just happened. Out of the corner of my eye I can see him pointing, faces looking over counters and lots of people nodding heads.
It's at this point the manager comes over and asks me directly, smiling.
"Weren't you just here?"
Captive to my role, I shake my head sincerely. Dumbfound, she returns to the rest of the waiting staff who are now all beginning to question their sanities. A restaurant in disbelief.
I got through the soup ok and although the lamb shank wasn't the best of choices for a second main course in an hour given its size I did manage to get through that as well without much plight.
For the entire duration the waiter tried desperately for me to fold. Eye contact, smiling, asking me if I was hungry today, but I gave him nothing. We paid the bill took our stuff and left.
Few steps down the road and I had forgot something and had to go back. Of course I went back in and told the waiter what had happened.
To this day I don't think I've ever seen relief like it.

"Thank god. I thought I was losing my mind."

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Last night I get sick

Puked everywhere last night, was trying to get back to the room but stomach was having none of it. Too much whiskey. Quite hilarious when I went to try and retrieve the situation this morning.

"Last night, I get sick."
"Sorry?"
"Last night. I got sick. Sick." *demonstrate person getting sick.

"Ah ok. Yes."

Pause.

I was trying to find where it happened so I could offer to clean it up, or at least tip the poor unfortunate that had to do it.

"So where did it happen?" I say.

Pause.

"I don't know? *shrugs shoulders".

"You were one who is getting sick, how do I know where you get sick?"

The search continued out to the pool area where I asked another lad about it. The pool boy.

"Do you speak English?"

"No."

I decide to do what everyone else does in this situation and continue to speak English anyway.

"Last night, I get sick." *demonstrates getting sick

"Yes."

"Where did it happen?" * my hands in the air*

He encouraged me to follow him and eventually we get to the place of the incident, wet floor sign on the ground signifying it. He points.

"Sorry." I say. Looking at the ground now clean. I hand him a 20 and his face lights up. "Thank you!"

If he could speak English he probably would have encouraged me to puke again tonight.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Kevin Spillane RIP

Today I'm going to tell you a story about a friend of mine by the name of Kevin Spillane. Unfortunately Kevin passed away this year but he left such a lasting influence on me that he will never truly be dead.

I could tell you many funny stories about Kevin each one more hilarious than the next but I thought of one in particular today and felt I had to share it.

It all happened a few years ago when we were in Tenerife for a poker tournament. One day we were walking through the town and we stumbled across this makeshift bookies in a pub and being the sick gamblers that we are naturally enough we went in and had a few bets.

There was two guys running it and in fairness to them they had a lovely little business because the place was fairly jointed and it was a bar too and it was just full to the brim with exactly the kind of punters you'd want. Old. Clueless. Betting €5 ew on 33/1 shots because it has Alice in it's name and their wife is called Alice and it's probably like 150/1 on Betfair.

Anyway were having a few muggy bets ourselves and we have a good time and we actually win a few quid. So towards the end of the session I see this football sheet with all the prices for that night and they're absolute hold up prices most of them. Except one. Burton. For whatever reason Burton are down as 7/4 but in reality are no better than 6/5 anywhere. So I show Kevin anyway and he wants to have everything on it. I kind of agree with him so I decide to go along with it. Luckily for the lads neither of us were going too well at the time so we end up having something like €400 on it between us. So we walk up to the counter anyway with the slip wrote out. "Burton to beat Plymouth Argyle €400 @ 7/4."

Now basically this is not only for sure the biggest bet they've laid that day but probably that year and maybe even ever. And it's on fucking Burton. And in fairness to the wannabe bookies they lay it. First guy looks at the other guy and they shrug their shoulders and they lay it. Fair dues.

So we go off anyway and we're sweating the match on live score and it's 0-0 for the most part. Then around probably minute 70 or so Plymouth score and we're fucked. Now Kevin was also one of the greatest after-timers that ever lived. It's at times like these that you realise how Kevin got his nickname the bull. Because that's exactly what he was like.

"That was a fucking horrendous bet to make." He declares.

"Like we know absolutely fucking nothing about Bournemouth or Plymouth or whatever the fucking team was. Sure I don't even know what fucking division they're in or anything."

Without further delay he calls the bar man over and promptly orders two fernet brancas to calm himself down. A drink I've never heard of and with a taste so bad I'll never forget it.

Then Burton score. 1-1.

With just over five minutes left I knew they were going to win it. As sure as night follows day they were going to win because all the worlds a stage and us merely actors.

Minute 91. Burton score. 2-1.

As you can imagine it was just cheering and shouting and hugging and clapping and before too long it was full time. We'd won and all the wisdom which was being dished out 20 minutes previous was not only forgotten it was like it never even existed.

"Jesus Christ bhoy ten years ago I would have had 20 grand on a bet like that."

All I could do was laugh. And we laughed and we laughed and we laughed. I even had another fernet branca to celebrate.

The next day we go to collect and the two boys can't get out of their chairs quick enough when we come in.

"You lucky fucking Paddies! How on earth did Burton come back to win that game? Jesus Christ we were celebrating like crazy in the John Bull when Plymouth scored. We were sure we were gonna win. But what on earth made you back Burton?"

Bollox. What to say? I was floored. If they had seen my face it would have been similar to a ghost. How did I never think they'd ask that? But it didn't matter. It didn't matter because I had Kevin.

No sooner had the question finished than the answer was out without even a flinch. A combination of a wry smile and just the slightest hint of nostalgia. I'll never forget it.

"Ah. I used to go out with a girl from Burton."

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Santa letter 2013.

Dear Santa, I'm not asking for much this year. In fact I'm only asking for three little things and they're all for other people.

1) Now that Phil Taylor's out of the darts as we agreed and considering our mutual dislike of Dutch people and with Adrian having already won it twice before surely this is the year that James Wade can finally becomes a World Champion? His finishing on double tops and double tens has been very good this year and he's gone to bed early most nights now that he has that hot new girlfriend so lets give him something nice this year like the Sid Wadell trophy on Jan 1st.

2) Another boy deserving of something nice this year I think is Tom Brady of Foxborough, Massachusetts. He's had a bit of a rough time of it lately trying to make new friends bar Julian Edelman but I'm hoping next year he can get more acquainted with a few of the others around him and he gets his just rewards for being the best little QB you could ever meet with a Vince Lombardi trophy on Feb 2nd.

3) The final thing I would ask from you this year Santa is that Tony Romo, formally of Burlington, Wisconsin can be given the presence of mind to not fuck it up in the final quarter of the crucial "win it and in it" NFC east tie against them hooligan Philadelphia Eagles on Dec 29th. I know this will probably be the most difficult of my gifts to find this year but maybe if you look really hard you'll be able to find it.

Many thanks Santa and I wish you well on the arduous plight of the next few days.

Regards to the rain-dears.

Gary Clarke (aged 27).

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Poker Tournament Review - Fitz EOM 29/8/2013

Just as you approach the dinner break in the Fitz EOM its safe to say your edge at this point is massive.

With a salad counter, hot food counter and a dessert counter I don't think there's much more you can do but get stuck in there. You're essentially getting three for one on your money.

I got to the dinner break with about average hunger but it was at that point that things really got going for me.

The first really key decision of the night I guess was when the waitress asked me was it chicken or beef I wanted. This is always a tough spot but I guess the standard play is beef. It's definitely the right play with 20 green beans or less but anything more than 20 green beans on the plate and I think you have to look for a better spot elsewhere.

The problem is that the chicken has a funny sauce which I don't like but I've seen some people eat it to varying degrees of success. I guess it depends on your attitude towards high variance.

As it happens I went for the more popular line and choose the beef which paid off as I was sitting very comfortably after it. It can throw up some tricky indigestion calculations but more often than not your getting your beef good there.

With still ten minutes left on the clock I decided to open up a bit before the antes kicked in with a small slice of mandarine crumble cheesecake. As you might expect, an opponent of this nature was always going to be a bit trickier than the more conventional strawberry and lemon varieties but I was happy enough to get it in my mouth there.

With time running out I decided it was time to make a stand with one of the first solid holdings I'd seen in a while, apple tart and cream. It was to be my last food of the night as it happens but I've no regrets as having looked at folds and folds and folds of whipped cream in the Fitz all night I don't think there's much more you can do but get it in your mouth there.

Yes I've seen a lot of people go broke in this spot but the Fitzwilliam Card Club is definitely plus EV food-wise.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Great Dane

Two things I shall never be.

1) a full tilt poker brand ambassador.
2) voted one of People magazine's 50 Sexiest Men.

The Great Dane Gus Hansen is not only both of these things, he's so much more than that too. Winner of an unprecedented three world poker tour titles and a world series of poker bracelet, he is one of the most recognisable faces in all of poker. He's also an absolute bollox too.

Two things I shall always have.

1) A conscience
2) Common decency

Not only has Gus Hansen got neither of these things, he seems somewhat proud of the fact that he doesn't too. Renowned for stealing pots, the Great Dane would probably steal your wife, your sister, your mother and your grave too if you gave him half a chance.

Two things that Gus Hansen thinks he's is but isn't.

1) Genuinely famous
2) Sound

Now, as a full tilt qualifier this weekend in Galway I'm not quite sure what it is my full tilt poker ambassador does for me. In fact as a full tilt qualifier this weekend in Galway I have very little interest in what my full tilt ambassador does for me. One thing I hope they wouldn't do however is I hope they wouldn't take a girl from under me in a residents bar at 4am in a hotel opposite the venue.

Obviously this is what Gus Hansen sees his role in Galway this weekend to be. A man of impeccable disregard for the plight of the everyday fella.

But one thing I will always have is a conscious. Because from here till the day I die I will never take a girl from under a lad who has been courting her all night.

For the Great Dane however that's just another day at the office. Stealing women is like stealing pots, all the great players do it.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Deleted

It’s with much regret that I must report the deletion of me by one of my friends. I thought we bonded but it appears that my friendship was merely short-term. Like any relationship - we had our differences. But in the end we just didn’t cut it as friends. I felt us drifting apart but to be deleted from somebody’s life was a crushing final blow. It’s like being laid-off by your social circle, sacked from their life, terminated from their existence.

The odd like of their status, a comment if they’re lucky, you know the type. We weren’t childhood buddies but we were perfectly acceptable as facebook friends. I certainly have friends of lesser importance on there. We’d met each other more than once and the time we spent together was enjoyable. I doubt we left any permanent impressions on each other; we were simply friends through a friend.

I can’t remember for definite who added who but I believe it was my friendship that was requested. Maybe I was one of those ‘People you may know’ that I never seem to know. Perhaps I was added on a temporary contract, a 6 month loan deal or an internship with no guarantee of imperishable friendship.

Admittedly, the distance helped drive us apart. She lived in London, I lived in Dublin, and we just didn’t make the effort to commute. It’s with remorse that I contemplate the situation. I know I could have done more. A facebook chat, a post on her wall, simple little efforts could have held our friendship together. But I guess it wasn’t to be.

Now it’s time for a name and shame. Like one of them old ITV programmes about dodgy builders.

ANNABEL JONES – GOOD RIDDANCE.