Editor at Large: 61

Posted by in February's Magazine

Like I suppose these things should do it started fairly innocently. I was in Scotlands Bar in Pitlochry – the kind of community howf that is becoming as rare as a polite interjection by Jeremy Paxman – the Guardian crossword was despatched and I was idly looking around for someone to bore when the cry went up in my direction, “Oi bookworm, riddle us the answer to this one…” My annoyance at that ‘bookworm’ lasted as long as the horrified realisation that the last half of the query had sent me into a reverie on a great Seamus Heaney poem that contained just those words. “What?” I said, full of lager fuelled bravado and bravura, (given that the fellow who asked the question had the physique of an elephant with elephantiasis and the demeanour of Noel Gallagher on a day trip to Liamsville, this approach verged on suicidal.) “You neglected,” and even as I formulated my response I knew it could be problematic, “to ask me a question.”

Re-reading that first paragraph, I feel duty bound to report that I would have given the me in it a damn good thrashing with a combine harvester, but my genial inquisitor was the absolute acme of equanimity as he asked, “What percentage of the game of dominoes is pure luck?” I slid my index finger under my collar to let some steam out, “Er, that would be a hundred percent.” “Correct answer!” He beamed, turning to tower over two fellows who had been clacking, shuffling, counting and playing a set of ivory ‘bones’ for about three hours. “Didn’t I tell you darts are the boys? Even Joe Ninety here reckons dominoes are shite…”



I was not fully emptied of bravado yet, “that’s not exactly what I said, or at least what I meant, there is of course an element of luck, but it’s a convivial and companionable game.” Thankfully he hadn’t heard me, he was off to throw metaphorical darts at the unfortunates slouched around the pool table. The two domino players eyed me like circling sharks, both had mournful, nicotine stained moustaches. They had the air about them of Victorian wife poisoners, and when they spoke – in unison – they sounded like undertakers who were suffering from acute depression and inflamed adenoids. “Would you like to join the domino team?” They whimpered.

And of course as a life long prevaricator and liberal I weighed up the options, should I join the ranks of the loud bloke with the absent face, or align myself with the turn of the century body snatchers? That was easy, body snatchers every time. For the princely sum of £1 a week I was an official member of the Scotland’s Bar No 3 team (and woe betide you if you met the Seconds or Firsts, best to hang your head like a child in shame and doff your cap.)

Heck, I even found a football team to support, having lately arrived in Scotland. Dundee United, due to Paul Sturrock’s dad George being my doubles partner in the North Perthshire Domino League. Dark rumours circulated that the lateness of trains on the Inverness rail route were nothing to do with ‘the wrong kind of snow on the line’ and everything to do with Paul’s dad’s addiction to dominoes. He was, after all, British Rail’s chief signalman in Pitlochry.

Twenty-five years later, even as I write, in fact because I write, I’m missing a crucial home domino game at my local, the Alan Breck Lounge. In exact time with the typing of this sentence the texts start trilling through… we’ve won 6-3! I’m off to the pub to celebrate.

One response to “Editor at Large: 61”

  1. Lenny says:

    The new rock 'n' roll it's not even the new bingo!

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