Long-term followers of dull feuds on the Gutshot forum will appreciate the irony of Padraig Parkinson writing about me in an article for Card Player. If he sells the same story to someone else later, you won't hear a word of complaint from me about it! The story is really about Frank Hughes, a Vic regular who had a bad day a few weeks ago:
Now, David Young gets on pretty well with Frank, but has never been accused of having any tact whatsoever. Legend has it that when tact was being distributed, David arrived too late because he'd been getting measured up for his blazers. A couple of years ago, I was having a drink in the Vic with some of David's friends, and they were hoping that David would be invited to take part in the reality TV show Big Brother, so that they could bet the farm on him being voted out first.
Anyway, true to form, David arrived in the club, completely ignored all the obvious clues, and asked Frank how things were. Unless you're in the medical profession, it's not a good idea to ask a guy who's bleeding how he got the cuts. Frank provided the gory details and threw in a few philosophical quotes on the unfairness of poker and life in general. Any normal man would have stopped poking the snake, but not David. His idea of consoling Frank was to shrug and say "It happens like that."
Actually Frank and I were already in a game together at the time this conversation took place and he appeared to think I hadn't heard him telling me his misfortune, so I said something so he would know I'd heard. The story is otherwise spot on.
Frank isn't just a 'survivor' by the way, he's a gourmet too. You've eaten a good meal? He's had a better one! You've found a great new restaurant? That's nothing, you should try this other place! You think the Blue Elephant is a good Thai restaurant? It's a dump! If you want to know where to eat in London, he's the man to ask.
I'm not deriding the man, in case it appears that way. I like being around people who have some conversation and who express opinions. Recently we got on to the topic of films and someone, probably Neil, asked for the top ten films of all time. It was typical of being with men that all the films the two of them suggested were gangster films or war movies. Frank nearly choked when I suggested 'The Wizard of Oz'. I'm not a 'friend of Dorothy' - I just think it was years ahead of its time (1939). Still, Frank would have none of it. All three of us did agree that Lawrence of Arabia deserved a spot in the top ten. And that lead to the conversation we've all had:
Frank - That film has the best opening sequence of any ever made.
Me - When he falls off the bike?
I didn't see him yesterday, and with Neil away too, the place was a bit less fun than usual. I got no reaction to this:
Tal - I've just been in France with my uncle. He's got a sanctuary for animals ... all kinds of them. He's got a panther in there that's friends with him. He goes in the cage and gets right up close to it.
Me - Is his name 'Claude'?
Silence. Blank look. Channing would have given me a drum roll at least. Come back soon, Neil!