Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bridge Cup

Well, for all my writing projects are looking dismal, at least I can report a trumph at bridge. This is ironic, given that I'd decided to give up playing - at least in clubs, where a recent encounter went thus:

Opponent 1 : Why on earth did you play that card? It was a stupid thing to do.

Me: Yes, I knew straight away that I shouldn't have done it.

Opponent 2: It really lets your partner down. She's such a good player, too.

Me: Don't worry, she's OK about it. I told her I was rusty because I hadn't played for a while, and at least this way she gets to play.

Opponent 2: That's no excuse! You've been playing for years.

She's right , of course. It must have been the early seventies when I first sat down to play in County Hall on Monday 'tuition night'.

It was a bad experience from the start, I should have given up then. I'd only gone because we were broke and I'd read in a GLC magazine that teachers were entitled to play there. My husband said he'd played a lot of cards in his national service days, so we'd give it a go.

He seemed born for the game, and plays four times a week now but I always struggled, glad of any excuse not to play. 'Not having any mathematical sense is a real drawback. Another is the kind of people the game seems to attract, although most are really kind and helpful. It's the few snappy ones who spoil things.

That first time I was sitting south, with the sun's rays glancing off the Thames straight into my eyes. No wonder I couldn't see the card I was trying to get from dummy until I lifted it.

'You touch the card, you play the card!' came a sharp voice from my left, and so I did.

Later on a fight broke out when he'd moved on to another table. I couldn't help being glad that he seemed to be getting the worst of it.

Anyway, my kindly ex bridge partner insists I keep the cup we won by some lucky fluke in a competition and which he collected at the AGM. He seemed worried about having charge of it, although I can't say it looks very valuable. It's changed colour since I got it, having taken on a brassy tinge. I suppose I'll have to polish it up before returning it at the end of the year.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Year of the Rat ( or Mouse if you're Taiwanese)

I was a bit puzzled to get an email from Taiwanese friend Luke, wishing me 'Happy New Year of the Mouse!' Up 'til then I'd thought it was the Year of the Pig', misled by a badly-drawn poster in a Gerrard Street shop window.

'No, no, it's the Year of the Rat!' insisted the elderly Singaporean who sits next to me in the Soho class. I had to agree, as for one thing he should know, and for another someone in the same class gave me a leaflet about New Year-related events in London. On the front was a smiling cartoon creature which could have been either but it was clearly labelled 'Welcome to the Year of the Rat.

Meantime in class the noise levels were even higher than usual as New Year sweets and greetings were exchanged. I was a bit late getting there because there was a pair of lions - well, costumes with men inside - in Soho, visiting every shop in turn. The crowd-attracting drum and cymbals plus banner-carrying bodyguards were blocking the pavements.

I suspect that 'shu' is one of those Chinese animal names that doesn't distinguish between different species, - like 'yang' , my own Chinese zodiac sign, which can be a sheep or a goat. It's surprising, really, if there's a choice in the matter that anyone should choose 'rat' over 'mouse', especially in London with its plague-ridden past.

Luke says the characteristics of the mythical animal are not connected with those of the actual one. Just as well, really.