The trouble with being a big sister, no matter how great your age and the age of your sibling(s), is that there are certain things that you can and can’t do. And one of the things that you can’t do is leave your blog space blank, even when your partner in pontificating has filled hers. Well, especially when she’s strutted her stuff and addressed the matters that matter (or seem to at the time). Come what may, no matter how late it is, you have to come up trumps.
Which brings us neatly to bridge. I’m not quite addicted but it’s become a big part of my life (thank you Jackie Rose). I’ve probably said many times that I can’t believe Maureen and I didn’t learn as children because everybody played bridge – Mum, Dad, the aunts, the uncles, the grandparents, most of the friends. And whenever granny was babysitting, Maureen and she played cards endlessly while I sat in the corner reading. Mo was a card person, good at tricks (as in the sort of things magicians do to amaze and irritate the rest of us) but she’s not yet a bridger. Those of us who are, however belatedly, live in hope because we’re always in need of a fourth.
Dad was a child, still in single figures in age, when he learned to play bridge from the ladies at Rosses Point, Co Sligo Golf Club. In later life he always claimed that the weather was always wonderful – but bear in mind this was (still is) the west coast of Ireland, so you know he’s lying, sorry, misremembering and there would have been many days when the weather was perfect for bridge.
Just after I’d started playing the game, not long before Dad died, I asked him to recommend a book to help me learn. He came up with “Sound Bidding at Contract” by G.C.H. Fox, first published in 1954, the year of my birth…It’s dedicated to “Dolorosa, my first pupil and now my favourite partner”. I presume it’s not a joke but dolorosa, as I understand it, means sorrowful, suffering. It has religious connotations but why on earth would any loving parent name their daughter Dolorosa? And is it going to endear you to any game?
There are red lines here and there in the book, indicating that Dad had read it carefully and was marking the bits he considered particularly important. I looked at it once, had a meltdown and put it away. Looking at it again, knowing a bit more, it’s not quite so daunting but I still think it’s a wonderful demonstration of the difference between Dad’s accountant’s brain and mine.
A friend, whose eyesight isn’t what it once was, likes cards with big, clear numbers and over the years we’d found that Augusta National’s Masters cards were pretty good, nice and legible. It’s quite a while since I’ve been at the Masters but I still had some cards, perhaps bought by Maureen and I rooted them out. That’s when I realised why I’d been reluctant to pass them on. Somebody somewhere hadn’t played their cards right.
They’re known for their pursuit of perfection at Augusta National – Bob Torrance, father of Sam and coach to many stars, spent many years searching for even a hint of a weed on the pristine fairways – but at one time they cocked it up with their playing cards. They went from plain and simple and spot on to arty-farty and wrong.
All it needed was one white background, say and the other green. They’d done it before but perhaps that was too dull. Still, beware of trying to be too smart. There’s a reason why decks are often red and blue: it’s easy to tell them apart. If you want to branch out, whatever you do, don’t forget to consult the bridge players.
We’re rattling through February, the shortest month, so the Masters isn’t too far away and however disenchanted I’m becoming with the men’s professional game and its grossly inflated sense of its own worth and importance, I’ll probably be watching. This year at least.
Not least because it’s on the telly late and can provide useful blog fodder when the brain cell is wilting, I was keeping an ear and half an eye on the golf from Riviera in California. The sainted Rory, still a favourite in these parts, had just gone double bogey, triple and had elected to hit an iron into the 17th, a par 5, after a cracking drive. The sainted DLD (Dame Laura Davies), commentating, said, “It doesn’t make any sense to me…” and, of course (!), Rory hit a cracker onto the green.
It made me think of the time at Woburn, long ago, when I had yomped into the boondocks after one of Laura’s more wayward booming drives and she’d hit a stonker through the trees a fraction short of the green. It was Seve like. Sheer genius.
“How wide was the gap, Trish?” Laura’s cousin Matthew asked as I traipsed back to the fairway.
“There wasn’t one.”