When I get deep enough into Ogblog there will be some patches of my playing bridge over the years.
My schooldays were my heydays for bridge; it has been a very patchy bridge career since then.
I did have a regular/occasional game for many years with a somewhat fluid group, with Andrea Dean, Marianne Tudor-Craig and me forming the core. We’d play a few times a year and not get much worse each time we played. That ground to a halt, I’m pretty sure on 25 June 2009. I can be precise about the date because I’m pretty sure it was that last time we played, at Maz’s place, that I learnt of Michael Jackson’s death on the news while driving home.
Anyway, one thing led to another and I got invited to join Stephen’s impromptu, occasional Monday night gang. This seems to be even more occasional than my old troupe, or at least my invitations to play are! This gang all seem to play quite a lot of bridge and take it quite seriously, although I think they see these Monday evening gatherings as a relaxing, social game.
Unlike my old kitchen table crowd, the food and drink side is very much secondary, although there is always a bit of a high tea-type spread at half time. That set up works pretty well.
They are a very pleasant and interesting crowd, as I’d expect with Stephen’s friends. It’s a fluid group, but the core seems to comprise Stephen, Michael, Graham and Irene. The first time I played with them, 19 October 2015 at Irene’s place, all five of us were there; we played a rotating Chicago with one person sitting out each of five rounds. They like to play Standard American, but tolerated my old 1970’s school Acol for that first gig only.
So I mugged up on the Standard American stuff, but we then didn’t get a group together until March 2016, playing twice that month, 7th and 21st, both times at Michael’s house. Four of us minus Irene both times, if I remember correctly. I stuttered through the bidding that time, making only a few bloopers but playing the cards reasonably, if rustily.
Then another long interval, until a gig at Stephen’s place on 31 October 2016. No Graham and no Irene; Lindy (Stephen’s wife) making up the four. Despite not finding time to mug up again, I played a bit better that night.
The next gig was at Irene’s place on 16 January 2017, Graham wasn’t there. Just the odd blooper. Similarly at Stephen’s place the next week, 23 January, with Peter making up the four in the absence of Graham and Irene.
Unfortunately my proper blooper of the night came on the very last hand – total brain fade once I’d worked out how I could slam dunk the contract, messing it up prodigiously.
So that’s probably the end of my bridge career again for a good while, until Stephen’s memory of the trauma fades and/or until his group is desperate once again for someone to make up the numbers.
Michael, poor chap, had his motorbike stolen from the street near Stephen’s house, while we were playing on this most recent occasion. Edgy neighbourhood, Chelsea. I drove round the corner after collecting Dumbo to see (as I imagined it) Michael having his collar felt by the fuzz – until Michael explained what had happened.
The copper must have been on the beat on that street, as only two or three minutes had passed since we had said goodbye at Stephen’s door. Anyway, I was able to wait for Michael while he gave his statement and then give him a lift home.