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Author Topic: BEST OF RED  (Read 23496 times)
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« Reply #30 on: January 04, 2006, 03:02:45 AM »

Here's A Debate That Will Upset The Girlies...

Well this is how I see it, I know a lot of you will consider my views chauvinistic

Men and women are eaqual

Men and women, while being EQUAL, are not the SAME, a lot of people confuse the two

as an example, women firefighters, it means there has to be seperate sleeping quarters, toilet/bathroom facilities and the men have to curb their language and modify their conversation. Plus if I were unconcious in a burning building I would want a 16 stone bloke to carry me to safety

The same applies to frontline soldiers. By their very nature women will defend their own to the death, but they are not pre disposed to attacking

I think women are much better communicators, negotiators, teachers, listeners, speakers, and carers than men could ever be, all heads of state should be female

I like men to be masculine and women to be feminine.

I love opening doors, buying flowers, paying for dinner and pretending to be brave and strong, I want to be the man of the house, and I want her permission to say so

I want a woman that has the good grace to pander to my testosterone fueled ego, even though when the chips are down she is probably braver and stronger than me

I don't care why women say and do unfathomable things, it's all part of their fascination

I lift the toilet seat and I put it down again, no questions asked

November 26th 2005
« Last Edit: January 04, 2006, 03:04:20 AM by snoopy1239 » Logged
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« Reply #31 on: April 01, 2006, 04:54:41 PM »

Fools rush in

The human mind is designed to try to make sense of any situation, to interpret the information available by comparing it to previous knowledge and experience, to rationalise.

This is a great system, and it works well for most of the time.  However, these very facts make us all susceptible to deception

I have always had a keen interest in confidence tricksters, I’ve read a lot on the subject, and have been amazed at the outrageous stories people will swallow

Confidence tricksters have sold the Eiffel Tower for scrap

Pushed ATM machines laden with cash out of banks in broad daylight, assisted by bank staff

Spent their entire working lives occupying positions as senior consultants in hospitals without a shred of medical knowledge

Virginia Woolf and a group of friends once disguised themselves as the Emperor of Abyssinia and his entourage, they had no appointment and the only language they spoke was “Bunga bubnga” i.e., gobbledegook made up on the spot, they were given a full VIP tour of the British warship, the H.M.S. Dreadnought, and the British navy received them in full colours, pandering to their every whim

The more bizarre the situation, the more inclined we are to accept it, because we don’t have a better explanation. Once the bait is swallowed, we just go on believing, no matter how incredible the story becomes

You may be wondering where all this is leading, the truth is, I have made a monumental balls up and I am just trying to save a little face

When Brian Wilson joined the forum several months ago, someone made a reference to the Beach Boys, tikay told us of Brian’s friendship with El Blondie and other notables, we heard stories of his newly found interest in poker and of his exploits in big games in exotic locations

I thought it was “THE” Brian Wilson

Once I had accepted this fact, nothing ever made me question it; on the contrary I chose to focus on the things that seemed to confirm it

He’s very individual and probably slightly mad

He’s American

He lives on the coast

He seems to have independent means

He seems comfortable among the rich and famous

I even congratulated him once for his charity work, and he thanked me

Now comes the squirmy part

Don't forget, we had just spent several days in Brian's company

Mat Tyler and I, (b4matt) Were sitting in the departure lounge of Vienna airport discussing Brian’s game, and I said it was easy for him to enter so many big buy-in tournaments when he had all those royalties coming in

Matt became totally silent and motionless for a moment, then he gave me a “Is this a wind up” type look and said “What the f*** are you talking about”

The conversation that followed was one of the funniest, and most embarrassing of my life, Matt, convinced by my total sincerity, wondering if it really was "THE" Brian Wilson, and me, finally beginning to entertain the possibility that it was not

It went something like this

Matt: It’s not that Brian Wilson……is it?

Me: Of course it is……isn’t it?

In unison:  AAARRRRGGHHH!!!

Matt: It can’t be!

Me: It must be!

This time holding each other’s shoulders, faces inches apart: AAARRRGGHHH!!!

Matt: you do realise that one of us is going to come out of this looking like a complete numpty?

Me: not really, if I’m wrong I’ll just say I was winding you up

Matt: You wouldn’t

Me, with a sigh: No, I wouldn’t, one of us must suffer

We spent the entire flight from Vienna to Amsterdam laughing, screaming at the thought if the impending embarrassment, and trying to work out the truth

Matt put forward the very good argument that our Brian was no where near old enough to be “THE” Brian, I countered with arguments about millionaires, plastic surgery, and the fact that he wouldn’t need to be that old anyway

At one point, Matt was convinced that I was right, and I was convinced that he was right, we even told each other that whatever the outcome, no one need ever know, but we both knew that was untrue

When we arrived in Amsterdam airport we abandoned all thoughts of baggage and connecting flights, and made our way to an Internet café. Like two condemned men, we opened Google and solemnly typed in, “Image, Beach Boys, Brian Wilson”

We held our breath for a moment, then suddenly the screen was filled by a recent picture of “THE” Brian Wilson, of course, he was absolutely nothing like the Brian we know and love

To his great credit, Mat said nothing, in total silence he stood up, and walked off to do some last minute shopping, I was grateful that he had left my burning cheeks and me in peace, but I did notice, as he walked away, he was staggering slightly, and his shoulders were shaking

March 10th 2006
« Last Edit: April 01, 2006, 05:02:17 PM by snoopy1239 » Logged
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« Reply #32 on: August 29, 2007, 02:26:11 AM »

A Tribute To Siddy

Friday. Day five of the festival at Blackpool, the day of the £300 Omaha freeze-out and my 'Day off.' Despite the fact that I had played four events so far without even a sniff of a final table, I wasn’t too disappointed, I felt I was playing well and I was in great spirits, looking forward to re charging my batteries in preparation for Saturdays main event by spending a leisurely day in the company of Mrs Red. We would stroll along the beach in the sunshine, have lunch somewhere in town, then browse around the shops before heading back to the hotel for an early night.

It was about an hour after lunch, and I was sitting on a bench in the middle of Blackpool reading the book that I had brought, knowing from long experience that I would need it to pass the time while Mrs Red scoured the contents of the charity shop that she would inevitably find, when the most extraordinary thing happened. A figure from my distant past sat down on the bench beside me. He didn’t recognise me, but the sight of him instantly transported me back to my childhood, to half forgotten memories of myself as a grubby urchin running around the woods behind the golf course at High Hazels Park in Sheffield. The area is off limits to small boys today, having been converted into an airport, but in the late 60s, it was a wild and beautiful place.

Some people on this forum have described Derbyshire as 'God’s own country'. Well I can’t really disagree with that, it is something special, and the scenery can be stunning, but if Derbyshire is where God lives, Yorkshire is where he takes his holidays. When God made Derbyshire he was just performing his usual, workaday miracles of creation, when he made Yorkshire, he was showing off.

This being the case, it’s only fitting that Yorkshire should be inhabited by a breed of people like no other anywhere on earth. Tough, dour, plain speaking, no nonsense people, they are hard to intimidate, and even harder to impress. They remain doggedly resistant to the ever changing lifestyles of the rest of the country’s populace, but they are quick to accept outsiders, provided they mind their manners, and despite an apparently gruff demeanour, they are always ready to laugh, their dry, scathing humour is never absent for long, and when you’re the butt of the joke, you know you are among friends.

I first met Siddy when I was about 10 years old. Siddy isn’t his real name by the way, I christened him that because of his habit of constantly starting conversations with the Yorkshire man’s version of the words “Look here” which are “See thee” or in his case, “Si di.”

It was the early autumn of 1968. I was walking in the woods with my dog, an Alsatian cross called Kim. I remember that the weather was still mild, and although the leaves had turned more shades of brown, red, yellow and gold than you can imagine or I can describe, they were, for the most part, still on the trees. I don’t know if I appreciated the breathtaking beauty back then, but in my mind's eye, the colours remain vivid.

One of the joys of walking with a dog, if you are tuned in to them, is the fact that you can make use of their heightened senses. Dogs give out a great deal of information via facial expressions and body language, but most of these signs are so subtle and fleeting that they are easily missed unless you are really looking. I always train my dogs to walk to heel slightly further forward of me than is considered ideal, but this means I can observe them all the time.

As I came upon a point where two woodland paths crossed, I noticed a slight change in Kim’s demeanour, his expression went from tongue-lolling indifference to ears forward attentiveness, he made no sound, but glanced up at me to check that I had seen his 'Someone’s coming' signal. I stepped off the path and into the undergrowth, and with Kim beside me I peeped out at the crossroads through the withered leaves of a beech sapling. To my utter astonishment, a giant walked past right in front of me. A huge, blonde haired man with a Bedlington x Whippet at his heels. Over one enormous shoulder was a strap fashioned from a car seat belt and attached to a wooden box, over the other shoulder a short spade. I knew immediately what the box contained, this particular giant was going ferreting.

I was mesmerised, driven by my little boy’s fascination and curiosity for all things strange and new. I wanted to approach this monster of a man, to see up close what a giant looked like, to find out how someone so huge could move so quietly, to engage him in conversation. Perhaps I could even get a peek inside that ferret box, and a have a chance to examine the terrier, but my little boy’s imagination held me back, I knew all about bean-stalks and how giant’s made their bread.

I resolved to follow him without revealing my presence. I was quite good at this sort of thing, having spent countless hours creeping up on unsuspecting wildlife with my catapult. When the giant was 100 or so yards in front of me, I started to move. Dogs read our body language much better than we read theirs, and Kim fell unbidden into stalking mode beside me. Making sure there was always some cover to shield me should the giant glance in my direction, and staying downwind of the Whippet, I trailed him to his destination, a sandy embankment at the far edge of the wood.

I congratulated myself on my stalking skills, and settled down below the rim of a cone-shaped hollow that I now know to be an old bomb crater, one of the many that were peppered around the woods, and I reached into my pocket for my 'binoculars'. These were in fact old-fashioned opera glasses, the kind that fold flat into a little case. They really belonged to my granny, she called them her 'Oppin glasses' and I had them on permanent loan. As I peered through the cloudy lens that did more to hinder my view than enhance it, I saw the giant toss the spade to one side, he then set the ferret box down and sat on it. Suddenly, and still with his back to me, he shouted, “Si di! Are da gonna lay in yon ole all day, or are da gonna gi me a hand?"

I stood up somewhat sheepishly and approached the giant with caution. Thankfully, he did not turn to face me, he just carried on talking in a soft, pleasant voice. “Si di young un, tha can elp me to peg t’ nets out if tha wants. That’s a grand dog tha’s got there, I bet he’s a middlin ‘unter.”  Perhaps he was used to people being scared of him, he seemed to know that I would feel safer with him looking the other way. I began to relax, soothed by the familiar Yorkshire accent, and pleased that he had praised my dog. You don’t often get praise from a Yorkshire man, and ‘middlin’ was praise indeed.

As Kim and I got closer, the whippet came to meet us, and the two dogs went in to that slow, stiff legged, circling, sniffing ritual that is so important in canine society. Nature didn’t design dogs to fight every time they meet an unfamiliar member of their own species; the fact that it happens so often is because of misunderstandings caused by the dog’s owner. Imagine this scenario. You are a small puppy; you live in a big, safe, warm place with the other members of your owner’s family, your ‘pack.’ One day, the pack leader takes you out for a walk, all is going well until you meet Mrs Smith and her dog coming in the other direction, you rush forward to greet them. Suddenly your leader becomes agitated and calls you back to him; there is a note of concern in his voice. He scoops you up and holds you tightly, everything about his demeanour says ‘Danger, this is a threat’ you growl a little, you’re scared now, but instinct tells you to protect your pack leader. This impression is re-enforced on subsequent walks, and before you know it, every dog is a threat and must be attacked on sight. You, like so many other good-natured dogs with well meaning owners, have become an incurable fighter.

Socialise your dogs when they are young; it’s easy, just let nature take its course.     

After an exciting couple of hours spent setting t’ nets, bolting rabbits, and digging out when the big hob polecat line ferret came back to the surface “Wi his mittens on” (fur attached to his paws indicating that he had killed a rabbit below ground), we set to on the important job of dressing (gutting) our haul to preserve its value. Rabbits spoil quickly if they’re not dressed. ‘Scoontin’ was the local terminology for this practice, which spawned the joke, “Do you want it scoontin?” “Aye, go on, it’ll do for t’ cat.” Later that day we walked into Darnall where we sold our booty to a local butcher for half a crown per rabbit. Ferreted rabbits were more valuable than ones that had been shot, the latter contain bits of lead, which break your customers' teeth, for some reason, they find this annoying. To my absolute amazement, I received five shillings as my share of the proceeds; I’d had a fantastic time and didn’t expect anything.

Siddy and I became great friends. I was a small, extremely skinny 10 year old, often with a dirty face and always with a snotty nose. He was about 25, 6ft 5in tall, with blonde curly hair and comic book hero good looks. Although he must have weighed about 18 stone, there was not an ounce of fat on him, his arms, legs and shoulders were massive, and when he moved the muscles bulged beneath his skin, like potatoes squeezed into a sack.

We were an unlikely couple, but we had a lot in common. I loved the outdoors, and he was one of the best outdoorsmen I ever knew. He took me everywhere, hunting, fishing, walking, and scavenging for golf balls, he taught me how to handle his four ten shotgun safely, how to fire it and how to clean it. I asked him endless questions, and he always took the time to answer, I must have driven him mad sometimes, but he was a gentle giant, with infinite patience.

Siddy was a sort of unofficial caretaker cum groundsman at the golf course, I don’t think it paid very much, but he was allowed to live in one small room in the big wooden club house, I suppose this also made him an unpaid night watchman. He supplemented his earnings by doing a bit of caddying, and he sold the second hand golf balls that he had trained the whippet to find. He also did odd jobs for anyone willing to give him a fair day's pay for a good day's work. If this involved digging, he was better value than a JCB; I have never seen anyone capable of moving so much earth. The only problem was, he could snap a shovel as easily as you would a toothpick, one of his regular employers got someone who worked in the machine shop at the pit to make him an unbreakable one with a tubular steel shaft, I could hardly lift it, but in Siddy’s massive hands, it looked like a toy.

Our ‘stopping place,’ about half a mile from Siddy’s clubhouse, was a clearing at the end of a very long lane in the lee of the wood. It was a traditional winter camp for my family and many others (For those of you who don’t know, I am a Romany Gypsy). It was even sanctioned by the local council, who provided hard standing for the caravans and delivered water to us in a bowser.

One night, at about 8pm, I saw through the caravan window, a red glow in the distance. I stepped outside and walked a little way towards it, on the still night air I could plainly hear raised voices, they were coming from the direction of the clubhouse. I suppose I should have told my dad, but it looked like something exciting was happening and I was afraid of being confined to barracks; I set of through the woods at a run.

I arrived at the clubhouse to find it in flames. Great orange tongues licked at the sides and caused the peeling white paint to bubble and blister. The windows were broken, and the door stood open. Firemen sprayed water in through the openings, and thick black smoke poured out.  No sooner had the thought ‘Oh my God, where’s Siddy?’ entered my head, than he came tearing into view. He was in the habit of  ‘nippin ter t’ local’ for a swift half after work, and had obviously seen the blaze while on his way home. He grabbed one of the firemen by the arm, almost lifting him into the air as he spoke... “Ave yer got me dog aht?” he shouted. The fireman answered his question with a blank stare. With that, Siddy pulled his coat up over his head and marched toward the open door. When they realised what he was doing, one or two people tried to restrain him, but they were cast aside as if they had no more substance than rag dolls. A moment later, Siddy has disappeared into the smoke and flames.

He could only have been in there for a few seconds, no one could have survived longer, but time took on that elastic quality, as it always does in moments of high anxiety and imminent disaster. Every little detail is scored into your memory; adrenalin seems to heighten your senses to a degree where you notice everything. I can recall that scene now, almost 40 years later, as if I am watching a slow motion video replay. I noticed that one of the valves that connect the hose to the fire engine had a leak, and the water, coming out under pressure, looked like a fan made of glass. I saw some sparks ignite the dead leaves on a nearby tree, and watched melted tar from beneath the roofing felt drip into the green, cast iron guttering. I could hear the spit and crackle of the burning wood, and the crunch of the firemens' boots on the gravel, I could hear my own heart beating.

When Siddy emerged, both he and the whippet that was hanging limp across his arm were smouldering, and his blonde hair was actually on fire. His huge hands were now lumps of raw meat, and a big strip of scorched flesh dangled from his cheek like a bandage that had come undone. A fireman twisted the nozzle of his hose to a different setting and sprayed them both with a fine mist of water. There was no ambulance, no paramedic, but someone put them into a car and drove them both away.

Autumn turned into winter, winter gave way to spring. We moved away, as we always did. and I didn’t see Siddy again that year. The following autumn when we moved back, it wasn’t long before I spotted him. He was walking through the woods, ferret box on his shoulder, the whippet, sporting a large, pink, hairless patch on its back, trotting at his side. He told me that he was in the hospital for a very long time. His hands had healed well, and his blonde curly hair seemed thicker than ever. His face though, was another story. A skin graft had become infected, and it had left an ugly scar that totally disfigured one side of his face. “Down t’ pub,” he told me with a crooked smile, “they calls me t’ Phantom of  t’ Opera.

So that’s how I knew it was definitely Siddy sitting beside me on that bench in Blackpool. I introduced myself, and for half an hour, we talked as if the 40-year gap was no more than the twinkling of an eye. We walked together once more, in the woods at High Hazels.

Mrs Red returned from her shopping and suddenly the spell was broken. Before I knew it, he was gone, leaving me slightly dazed, and wondering if I had imagined the whole thing.

One fateful night in 1968, a fire, and an amazing act of selfless courage left an indelible mark on the face of my boyhood friend, but it’s not nearly as indelible as the mark he left on me.     

May 9th 2006
« Last Edit: August 29, 2007, 02:29:29 AM by snoopy1239 » Logged
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« Reply #33 on: August 29, 2007, 02:30:17 AM »

Confessions Of A Cheapskate

I don’t know if I qualify as a real cheapskate, I don’t mind spending if I think I’m getting value for money, but I deplore waste, and I hate being ripped off.

Take cars for example, I used to dabble in the motor trade and I was amazed how people would really stretch themselves to buy a later model when the one they were driving was perfectly serviceable. I can’t bring myself to subscribe to this way of thinking, the cars I buy are always diesel, usually very high mileage, or accident damaged and repaired etc, but I buy them much cheaper than forecourt prices. I usually own them for between 2 and 4 years and then sell them on; often I get my money back, or make a small profit

The car I’m driving at the moment is a 6-year-old Citroen Xantia; I bought it almost 3 years ago for £2400. It’s fast, comfortable, reliable and has all the extras. It had only done 30,000 when its original owner altered its aerodynamic qualities a little during a drunken altercation with a lamppost. The salvage company did a beautiful repair job, only someone with an experienced eye would ever know. Never the less, the fact that it has been damaged and repaired is recorded, reputable sellers are obliged to make you aware if this, and as a consequence, it’s retail value drops by about 50%

All things considered, I couldn’t really grumble when, after 100,000 miles of carefree motoring, I heard rattling noise coming from under the bonnet. I had a quick look and diagnosed the problem as a worn bush in the pulley that sits on the end of the crankshaft. I’m a reasonably competent mechanic, but to attempt to do your own repairs on modern vehicles these days is folly, once upon a time you could mend almost anything with a pair of pliers and a bit of wire, but now you need specialised tools and equipment for even the most basic tasks, so I resigned myself to a visit to my local garage.

A very wealthy old man owns my local garage, its no wonder that he’s wealthy; he charges an arm and a leg for everything, plus VAT! To make matters worse, the mechanics that work for him are miserable, surly, idle, and rude. I hate the thought of spending my money with them.

The only other garage in the vicinity is ‘Steve’s Autos’, a one-man show housed in an old Nissan hut. Steve, a Mexican immigrant with very little English, is the sort of guy it’s impossible not to like, unassuming, polite, cheerful, smiley, and cheap. The only problem is, he’s a terrible mechanic. It was no contest; I nursed the car over to Steve’s.

“Khello Meester Mickhardy,” Steve flashed me a huge, tea stained smile and helped me from my car, supporting me by placing his oily hand beneath my arm, as you would an invalid. “What I can doing for ju?” I explained the problem, and he lifted my bonnet and peered underneath. He stood there for quite some time, rubbing his chin until it was covered with oil, occasionally cocking his head to one side, dog like, listening intently. Finally he turned back to me, wiped his hands on the front of his overalls and said, “Come, we have cup of tea.”

After showing me to my seat on a bench that was constructed from old railway sleepers and coated with several years’ worth of grease and grime, Steve went to brew up on a matching table. Eventually he handed a huge white mug of washing up bowl proportions, I took the steaming vessel with both hands, marvelling at the intricate pattern of cracks and oily thumbprints. Steve sat down beside me, putting his own mug to one side; he rolled a cigarette from evil looking tobacco and liquorice paper.

We drank together in silence for a while, then, protocol observed, he gave me the benefit of his wisdom. “Ees not pulley is problem,” he announced, blowing out a lungful of acrid smoke. “What ees, er I mean what is it then?” I enquired. “Timing belt tensioner!,” he replied, pronouncing the words slowly, but in perfect English

Steve made a telephone call to order the necessary parts; presumably the bloke on the other end of the line was a Mexican too, because it only took a moment. “Jur car she be ready in two days, we waiting for parts” he told me, “She is ok, Ju can leave her here.” I rang Mrs Red to come and collect me, and after wiping my hands on the front of my shirt as a gesture of friendship, I shook his hand and left

As it turned out, it wasn’t the “Timing belt tensioner” that was making the noise, it was the bush in the pulley that sits on the end of the crank. Steve had ordered the wrong part and caused another two days delay, he apologised profusely, but, he stored my car for four days, charged me only for the cost of the part plus £15 for his labour, made me a memorable cup of tea, and he made me smile.

This week has been one of those weeks, my lawnmower broke down and after a long wait and a lot of swearing, I realised that the manufacturers had supplied me with the wrong part. My pickup was broken into, and after waiting until after the holidays for a multinational company to come out and fit a replacement window, they arrived with the wrong part. One of lights in the ceiling of my caravan exploded, I had to send to York for a new one, despite quoting the serial number and having them read it back to me, they sent me the wrong part, I didn’t get so much as a “Sorry” from any of them

If these guys want any more of my cash, I suggest they invest in some two gallon mugs, and remember to call me "Meester".

April 23rd 2006
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« Reply #34 on: August 29, 2007, 02:31:36 AM »

"Your Dad's On The Telly, Girls." "But Mam, We Want To Watch Casualty."

After playing the £1500 European Poker Classic at the Vic, I was somewhat disappointed by the elasticated blind structure, so I e-mailed poker 425 with my views, and, as a result, Rhowena Colclough, who was producing the show that week, asked me to come down to the studio in London to debate the matter. Never one to let the chance of making a fool of myself go begging, I said yes.

I knew that tikay always travelled to London by train on recording days, I also knew that his train stopped at Leicester, so I gave him a ring to arrange to meet him so that we could make the journey together. “Yes Tom, I usually leave about midday,” he told me on the phone. “I’ll PM you the details.” At about 4am the following morning, while I was playing the graveyard shift on Ladbrokes, I received this message, “Tom, Rhow wants us to be there early, so that she can go shopping when we get finished, my train will be in Leicester station at 9:30am, see you then.” I made a quick call to travel information to check the time for a connecting train from Hinckley, and the terrible truth dawned upon me, I would have to get up at 7:30

7:30, OMG! Does such a time still exist? Even the sparrows around here don’t consider breaking wind at that ungodly hour. I busted out of the Laddies comp about half an hour later and went straight to bed to get my 3 hours of sleep, nodding off wasn’t easy, I knew that when 7:30 came, my head would feel like it had been nailed to the pillow, and that going to London to do a TV show would seem like a very stupid idea. I was starting to get nervous

Somehow, by 8:50am, I found myself in a platform coffee shop at Leicester station. I was suited, booted, hungry, tired and grumpy. I walked over to the counter, ordered a coffee and a croissant, and went to sit by the window to indulge in one of my favourite pastimes, people watching. As I gazed idly at the crowds of commuters, I noticed an old black porter. He was obviously very near retirement age, and you could tell at a glance that he had been performing the same mundane tasks for a lifetime. Never the less, he had a warm smile on his face as he flitted about busily in his immaculate green uniform, and some kind of sixth sense seemed to steer him towards those who needed his help. His enthusiasm fascinated me.

Tony rang me to let me know that his train was running about 15 minutes late, “Be careful,” he warned me, “It’s going to arrive at the same time as another train now, don’t get on the wrong one” At about 9:40 a train arrived, and I stood there looking at it, undecided. As if by magic, the old porter appeared in front of me and told me that if I was waiting for the delayed train, it would follow in about 5 minutes. "How come people like this never get any recognition?" I thought, as I thanked him for his help. He smiled. I looked down at the name badge on his lapel; it read ‘Arthur Isaacs MBE'

I walked away, suddenly, my bad mood had vanished!

Mr Isaacs ushered me aboard the correct train, and I found tikay sitting at a table in first class. He shook my hand and asked me if I preferred to travel facing the engine or with my back to it, as he was already sitting in the forward facing seat, I said I didn’t mind, I did really though, if God had meant us to travel backwards, he would have given us radar

The journey passed quite quickly. Tony talked at length about the various types of fastenings used in carriage construction, a monologue I can best describe as 'Riveting'

A short ride on the tube and a pleasant walk (including history lesson) later, we arrived at the studio. It was housed in a nondescript, office block type building. We made our way through a labyrinth of stairs and corridors to a small office, which housed a couple of desks with computer terminals; there we met Rhowena, and Dave 'Compo' Compton.

Rhowena, even sans makeup, looked gorgeous. She was wearing a light tan jacket, a cream sweater, and the tightest blue jeans you ever saw. For some reason, I have no idea what Compo was wearing.

After a few pleasantries, Tony told me that it was traditional for him and Compo to go outside just before they recorded the show to discuss content and running order etc, so on this occasion I accompanied them. I found out that what they really did was have a fag and talk about women and horse racing. Compo smokes cigars, as he lit one up I toyed with the idea of doing the old “You look like a film star with that in your mouth” joke, he says, “Really, who?” I say “Lassie having a crap!” I chickened out though, Compo’s a big bloke, and anyway, I would be sitting in a chair opposite him in a few moments, and I would be completely at his mercy

The next thing I knew, we were in a small soundproof room surrounded by cameras and powerful lights. Microphones were attached to lapels, and as Tony and Compo chatted nonchalantly, I polished the seat of my chair to a high gloss with my quivering backside. At some point, Compo was given the cue to start and he instantly fell into presenter mode, looking into the camera he introduced the show in a loud, confident voice. He was in his element, guiding the viewer from one segment to the next, giving Tony the cues he needed, and following the director’s instructions via an earpiece. He made it look so easy, and that I suppose, is the trademark of a true professional.

Tony was amazing. Without any kind of script or rehearsal, he picked up any subject on offer and ran with it. My God that man can talk, his head must be absolutely stuffed with information about the poker scene and the players, and he has opinions about all of it. He’s like a clockwork toy with a very large spring, just wind him up and off he goes, if he does get into trouble, he has this knack of somehow steering the conversation around to trains, Compo’s eyes glaze over and he is happy to move on to something else

From my point of view, it was all a bit overwhelming. Surrounded by all the technology, I felt like a rabbit in the headlights. It was hard not to be distracted by the surroundings and the knowledge that everyone could see and hear me all the time. At one point, I noticed a monitor showing a view of the back of my head that I had never seen before, I saw that my hair was sticking up at an alarming angle. I became totally absorbed with spitting on my fingers and trying to smooth it down until I realised that I looked like a mental case on the monitor showing me from the front

All in all, it was a scary but exciting experience, I loved it. After I had done my bit we went to a break and I was taken to the control room to watch the rest of the show being recorded. The control room was an amazing place, packed to the gills with knobs, dials, buttons, screens and gauges. The bloke in charge (I forget his name, Tarquin or Rupert or something) sat in front of a huge array of switches, hands flying from one to the other with astonishing speed, he directed Compo via a microphone while having a conversation with his sidekick about wine bars, one with Rhow about shopping, and one with me about sticky up hair.

Telly land is like another world, everything is unfamiliar, but the aliens are friendly.   

April 24th 2006
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« Reply #35 on: December 29, 2007, 08:43:37 PM »

The Berkley casino in Glasgow held their second festival last week and I wanted to go and play the £250 and the £500 main event. Both tournaments were freeze-out ranking events and I really fancied them, my only concern was that the £250 was billed as a 20-minute clock. For a ranking event with a £250 buy in, that was too fast, imo.

The staff at the Berkley, including tournament director Colin Reid and general manager Linda Barby are the most pleasant and helpful people you could wish to meet. So I rang Colin, who I had got to know quite well the last time I played there and he said, depending on the size of the field, he was quite willing to do a longer clock if that was what the players wanted. That was good enough for me

I have to confess, there was one other issue that troubled me. The Berkley does not have wheelchair access, as Ironside so rightly says, it’s unfair to allow a ranking event to take place in a venue that is off limits to the disabled

I didn’t fancy sitting down to play a tournament after driving all the way to Glasgow so, perhaps somewhat influenced by a senior blondite’s senile blathering, I decided to travel by train. After a short hop on the local service from Hinckley to Birmingham New Street, I boarded a sleek virgin. (Sorry for the terminology, but at my age that’s a statement you don’t get to make too often)

It was packed to the gunnels, not a seat to be had, but that was fair enough, I could have reserved one. I didn’t mind too much, I found a nice space in the vestibule between the first and second class carriages where I could stand and admire the view or sit on the floor with my dog eared copy of Harrington on Hold Em

I was just getting into the weighty subject of fourth street continuation betting when I noticed an old man moving slowly down the corridor towards me, aided by his wife and two walking sticks. Upon reaching the vestibule he stopped and leaned against the wall, I looked him over from my position on the floor.

I estimated his age to be somewhere in the mid eighties. He was very smartly dressed in dark jacket, Tattersall check shirt, olive green tie and cavalry twill trousers. In his buttonhole was a poppy and below that a medal ribbon. He was obviously in some distress and his wife fussed around him; I stood up and asked him if there was anything I could do. His wife explained that their had been some sort of problem with their original train and so they had been moved on to this one (Hence the crowding I suppose) she told me they were now unable to find a seat and that she was worried because the old man wasn’t very good on his legs 

Looking through the window into the first class compartment, I could see that there were lots of vacant seats, I tried to persuade the old couple to go and sit in there but my efforts were in vain, they were part of the ‘put up and shut up’ generation, and they wouldn’t dream of breaking the rules. Thankfully, the ticket inspector arrived and I explained the situation and asked permission for the old couple to sit in first class, she must have had a heart of stone because all she could say was “Sorry, it’s not allowed” I took her name, told her that if the old man fell over he could issue a law suit against virgin and that I would be the star witness, she walked away, unmoved

I was determined to find a seats for them so I walked down the carriages asking if anyone was prepared to give up their seat for an old soldier, I was amazed at how many people suddenly became deaf and turned away to look out of the window, by the time I got to the third carriage I was fizzing. “For Gods sake” I said loudly “most of you are wearing poppies, what do you think they are, fashion accessories?”

“There’s a seat here,” said a young man of about seventeen, I thanked him profusely and asked him to wait while I brought the old man. He shuffled along the isle, wife in tow, and sank into the vacated seat, I stared at the woman sitting next to him until she too got to her feet and let the couple sit together

I returned to my vestibule to find the young man sitting on the floor, we began to talk and he was great company. Lost in conversation, the rest of the journey seemed to fly by. Before I knew it, we were rolling in to Glasgow central

I left the train and sat on a bench to get my coat from my bag, as I stood up I saw the old woman again, helping her husband down onto the platform. At that moment the young man who had vacated his seat passed by, the old soldier stood erect, smiled and raised his hand to his temple in an informal salute

I swallowed a huge lump in my throat and walked on, suddenly very happy

The poker was actually very enjoyable, except for the small number of entrants, 49 for the £250 and 28 for the £500. True to his word the TD extended the clock for the £250 to 30 minutes, the blind structure was excellent and there was plenty of room to play. I was very pleased with my game and although I didn’t make the money in either event I think I made only one mistake, with 13 players left in the £250 I re raised what I knew to be a 2k steal on my big blind all in for 10k more holding 66, thinking he would have to have a monster to call. He didn’t have a monster but called anyway for all his chips with A6, the A came first card and I was damaged beyond repair

In the £500 with 11 players left I got them all in pre flop with 10 10 v Burnley John’s AK, he won the race and that was that. It was nice to spend some time with Burnley, I don’t know him very well but we got on like old friends. He helped me out last week at Sheffield when I left my lights on and flattened my car battery; he’s a great player and, somewhere deep inside, a true gent

My journey home was a complete contrast. The weather was gorgeous; the train half empty, and the ticket inspector (A Chinese Yorkshire man) went out of his way to help me. It seems I had got on to the wrong train, apparently I was supposed to go home via Preston and not Leeds

“Tha’s ont wrong train youth” he informed me, “A’hm spost t charge thee extra”
With that he took my ticket and wrote on it something to the effect that I had been given the wrong information at Glasgow, “Ere, tha’ll ave no trouble now, pillock!” he said, face inscrutable save for a conspirital wink

We were a few miles out of Leeds and I was staring idly out of the window when I saw a place I recognised immediately, although it must be 35 years since I’d last seen it, we were crossing a bridge and below was a place where we had stopped (Parked our caravans) for a few weeks when I was a boy

I remembered it so vividly because my brother Tracy and I had used that very railway bridge to play ‘Russian roulette’ it worked like this. We tied a length of rope to the railway track and the other end to a lorry tyre. The tyre was then suspended over the side of the bridge and allowed to swing about 6 feet from the ground and we would take turns to sit in it, 10 minutes each until a train came by and cut the unlucky one down, amid howls of laughter from the escapee, I suffered this fate what I considered to be more than my fair share of times and I came up with a plan for revenge

I balanced a plank of wood across an old Calor gas bottle to form a see saw and convinced my brother Tracy to stand on one end while I dropped the lorry tyre on the other end from the bridge, he agreed to this willingly, he was always as brave as a lion but a bit gullible, I have almost killed him several times over the years

Tracy positioned himself on the plank, grinning up at me expectantly; I was about to drop the tyre when I had a sudden and unusual rush of common sense. How high would he go? I wondered. Just to be on the safe side, I asked him to get off and put a brick on instead, this he did and I let the tyre go

The brick, one of those really heavy blue engineering jobbies shot into the air much faster than I thought it would, and because I was leaning over the bridge to watch, it was heading straight for my face. I pulled my head back quickly and the brick flew right on up, as I followed its trajectory I fell over backwards like a penguin watching a jet going overhead

Suddenly the brick that I was watching getting smaller was getting bigger again and I realised too late that it was going to land on me. I put my hands over my head, which wasn’t much help because the brick landed squarely in my crotch

It was an explosion of pain, I lay there, curled into a pathetic little ball, moaning and vomiting, Tracy laughed so hard he was curled up and vomiting too

I was unable to walk for about three days, when I did manage it I was so bow legged I couldn’t stop a pig in an entry. The swelling was magnificent, in fact the only good thing is, it never really went away

Happiness is so amazing, it doesn't even matter if it's yours or not.
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« Reply #36 on: December 29, 2007, 09:00:40 PM »

Hi guys, I was going to do a trip report, but all the tournament details have already been provided in the live updates, and a cracking good read they are too

There is also a first class tournament report by Jen on the main page, Jen writes so beautifully, anything I might add would be like a skid-mark on a cassock, so instead, I have decided to try to give you a “Behind the scenes” look at blondpoker, as an expert team of mods, updaters, and admin swing into action

I am the first of “Team blonde” to arrive

I am 4 hours early because I mistakenly thought the Wales v England rugby match was to be played at Cardiff Arms Park and the roads would be chokka block, it turned out that it was played elsewhere and I sailed down in record time. The only delay being the 10 minutes I spent trying to convince the bloke manning the toll on the Severn Bridge that my pickup should be classed as a car and not a commercial vehicle (£5 difference in price)

“It’s no bigger than a car,” I ventured, as an opening gambit

“A mouse is no bigger than an onion” he replied, “but that doesn’t make it a vegetable”

“I don’t use it as a commercial vehicle though” I pleaded

“But you COULD, if you wanted to” he said, unmoved

“I’ll tell you what” I whispered, “Why don’t you just pretend it’s a car?”

“Ok” he said with a wink, “Just give me a tenner and pretend it’s a fiver”

The casino is located at one corner of a vast car park that also serves several big retail outlets, a cinema, a pub, and a hotel. It’s a huge car park

I parked in what looked like a quiet spot. I had a bed in the back of my pickup, one, because I love to sleep as close to the outdoors as I can, and two because I’m sick of paying for hotel rooms only to bust out of the comp at 10pm and drive home without using them

I met a few other early birds in reception, one being Lord Lawrence Gosney of Leeds. Resplendent in his Barbour wax shooting jacket. He always wears it, winter and summer, being a Yorkshire man I think he’s trying to get his moneys worth, he would need an anaesthetic to get it off

He looked like he was going hunting, which to his mind, he probably was

I had some time to kill so I did what I always do at times like these, eat!

I asked a smiling young man behind the bar, “Do you do meals?”

“Yes, fish and chips, burger and chips..” he replied.

“Can I see a menu please?” I asked

He produced one quickly, printed on it in bold type were the words



Halfway through my meal my phone rang, it was Snoops. In a slightly agitated voice he asked me, “Where are you?”

“I’m in the casino, where are you?”

“I don’t know”

“Are you in Cardiff Snoops?”

“Is it near the airport? I almost got there but now I’m going away again, eeek!”

At this point the phone went dead, concerned, I carried on eating my burger.

Jen arrived, looking fresh, radiant, and ready for anything, I went to greet her and offered her a hand with setting up mission control, she accepted gracefully, but really I think I was more of a hindrance than a help, Jen is an old hand at this and I’m like a bull in a china shop.

The first problem was, we had no Internet access. The Vodafone 3G card, like my mobile during my conversation with spoony, kept losing the signal

Jen, who is a bit of a computer whiz, got us connected to an outside service provider by waving a credit card and shouting at someone

Mr Kendal, with his usual impeccable timing, made his entrance, nodding and waving condescendingly to his wide-eyed admirers as he minced toward us through the card room

He plonked himself down at the updates table, produced his laptop, and with a flourish turned it on, nothing happened.

He turned it off and on again 30 or 40 more times, nothing. He plugged it out and in again, nothing. He held it upside down and shook it, nothing.

“What do you think is wrong?” I asked

“I dunno”

“Has it done it before?”

“I dunno”

“Have you dropped it?”

“I dunno”

“Do you think it’s a dodgy power lead?”

“I dunno”

“Ok, what’s the back up plan?”

“I dunno”

When things go wrong there’s nothing like having a decisive leader at the helm, and, credit where it’s due, he was nothing like a decisive leader.

We thought perhaps the fuse had gone so I was despatched to try and find a replacement.

“Do you have a fuse?” I asked the lady on reception who was by now very busy with a great horde of people all trying to get into the casino at the same time

“Yes” she replied, “But at the moment it’s very short”

We were down to one laptop, and that with a dodgy, expensive connection.

My phone rang again and I dashed over to the corner of the room that provided the best reception, it was Snoops again…

“Is it on a huge car park?”

“Yes snoops”

“I can see half of a building with the word INO written on it, is that it?”

“Yes Snoops”

“Ok, see you in a mo”

Ten minutes later my phone rang again

“I can’t get in to the car park, the barrier won’t open”

“That’s the exit barrier snoops”

El blondie comes up to me and says, “Hi Tom, I have the blondepoker shirt you ordered, it’s in the car”

“That’s great” I reply

“You can’t have it though, he says with a weary shake of his head, “Rhow had a load of them made, but she forgot to tell them to put blondepoker on them” and with a long suffering smile, he walked away.

Another half an hour passes, still no sign of Snoppy, I go outside to investigate

I find him walking around his car with a pencil and paper in his hand; he has locked his keys in the boot

“Have you rung anyone?” I ask him

“Yes” he says, his face a mask of concern, “I rang my mum”

I had a fantastic time at Cardiff, it’s a great pleasure to be with these guys, but the next time one of my grand kids wants a cowboy outfit, I’m putting a bid in for blondepoker.


Happiness is so amazing, it doesn't even matter if it's yours or not.
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