Yesterday I had an enjoyable day at the Heineken Open tennis. The big names weren't there - the top four seeds, who all hail from Spain, get a bye through to round two and don't play until Wednesday. But that didn't matter. I decided not to watch the first match on Centre Court, instead seeing my fellow Pom Daniel Evans play his final qualifying round match against someone called Wang from Taipei. I made the right decision too; it was a very good match which Evans won in three tight sets. I felt sorry for the players who had to contend with Centre Court's ridiculously loud PA system, the announcer mispronouncing the players' names and getting all the countries wrong at full volume. "Turn it up a bit," Evans said as he faced a big point in the third set. It would have driven me potty too. I then moved to the main court see the two wild-card Kiwis who happened to draw each other in round one. Rubin Statham ran out a well-deserved winner against his higher-ranked opponent Dan King-Turner, playing like a man possessed to reel off the last four games. The rest of the day's play didn't quite live up to the earlier action but I stayed till the end regardless.
After six years of living close to the sea I've finally figured out how to get in it. In the past I'd gradually ease my way in on tiptoes with my arms outstretched above me. This works fine until the water reaches my nuts and I start to wince. Once I'm over that hurdle I'm OK again until it reaches my chest. Finally, after all that agony, I'm in. At the weekend I changed my strategy completely, deciding to run in making as big a splash as possible. It turns out that's a far less painful method.
On Saturday I popped round to see Brendan. He's reorganised his living area again; he now has two TV rooms, labelled Cinema One and Cinema Two, complete with viewing schedules neatly set out using the 24-hour clock. Talking of clocks, he has dozens of them. And that's not all. He has precisely nine telephones, a calendar for every month of the year (all with pictures of naked men - he is gay after all) and every kind of calculator known to man including a novelty foot-high one and a retro one that prints out receipts. Hanging on his wall is a seemingly innocuous photo of a rugby team, but it turns out it's a Where's Wally-type picture, except the object isn't to find Wally but willy. I could go on, but I won't. I'm sure you'd only need to spend five minutes in my flat to have a jolly good laugh.
I've finished all my Joe Bennett. He has a remarkable knack with words; he even managed to get the words "rootling" and "fossicking" in the same short story. I'll have to get hold more of his fine work soon.
After 7000 hands of limit hold 'em at the lowest stakes, over two months, I plucked up the courage on Sunday to move up to the nosebleed nickel-and-dime level. Though I was well ahead, in big bet terms at least, I bemoaned my lack of monster hands. My best hand had been four fives, until Sunday evening when this happened:
Of course thousands of players catch royal flushes every day, and they make little difference to your overall win rate, but it's still nice to have hit the poker equivalent of a hole-in-one. After being stuck in a holding pattern around the $30 mark, my bankroll has now nudged over $40.
Tonight I'll be seeing my counsellor/psychologist and going to the men's group shortly after.