Christmas time, misteltoe and wine, children singing Christian rhyme
Unless they happen to be the children of Muslims, or Jews, or Rastafarians, or some bizarre syncretic sect… or atheists, even nihilists (and they’re scary because they believe in NOTHING!)

Ok, it doesn’t scan like Cliff’s effort, but you can’t have everything.

I’m off to California next week to be with my family over the Christmas period. Not that it really exists over there. We have Happy Holidays. And there is no Boxing Day. Just everything back to normal.

I didn’t think I’d get there. I have no money. But I do have credit cards. Credit Crunch? Ha! I’ve got at least 6 months of interest free something or other before I come crashing down. And last night I foolishly went on one of the slot machines at my pool club, JFK’s. Tony, our team captain, nickname The Sniper… because he used to be an assassin for hire… sorry, because his aim is so true… had just spent a few quid on the machine. I said I was going to get all of his money. I put in about £5 and hit a jackpot of sorts. I don’t know how these machines work, but suddenly it flashed like mad, wheels whirred, over and over, and after about five minutes of flashing, buzzing, spinning, shaking, the box spat out £65 in pound coins. Drinks all round and the rest, today, has gone on travel insurance. And the team won too! 8-4 against Nolans. Happy Christmas everyone.

I’m staying over on the West coast for nearly a month. Why not? I have no work to come back to. I might try and get a job in the local Starbucks. Failing that I’ll go for something in the Obama administration. I could be in charge of… pens? Or maybe I could be a dog finder for his kids. Or dog walker. Or pool tutor. Or Secret Service bodyguard. I’ll keep you up to date with my progression through the corridors of power here on this blog. Hey, just realised. I’m in California. I could get a job working with Arnie. Or I could understudy Jack Black as Jesus in the Prop 8 musical. There’s got to be something I can do. Oh yes, got it, help my sister take my niece and nephew to school each day. Phew! For a moment there I thought I was useless.

If any media moguls are reading this and they want me to write anything whilst I’m out there, or make a film, romping around America like Stephen Fry (but in a different class) please let me know. You can contact me here or through my agent, Debi Allen at RDF Management.

pool-1 pool2

Quick! Before looking too carefully at these two pics, cover the one on the right and see if you can tell which balls are red and which are yellow. if you play pool to Workd Rules, you’ll know anyway. If you play pool to World Rules and don’t know, leave this blog at once!

This photo was taken a while back, but I think the hands belong to Andy Law. Or rather Andy “I am the” Law. Everyone in the world of pool has to have some kind of a nickname or else they’re off the team. Maybe. I’ll do some research into this and come back with full team nicknames, for our team, JFK Rejects, next week. You can look forward to finding out more about Tricky Dicky, the Danish, et al. Al’s not much of a player, he never turns up. And when Andy is ahead in a game it is obligatory for someone to call out “Come on Andy, lay down the law.” Reading this, don’t you wish you were on our pool team?

For the record, my nickname is The Stick. And also for the record, on Tuesday we had another marvellous 9-3 win against Nolan’s. I won one, lost one, which was a shame, but there you go.

Feel free to leave comments suggesting what your nickname would be, if you played pool too.

Tonight it’s Pool Night

November 18, 2008


I play in a pool league. The Waterloo Pool League. And Tuesday night is match night. The team I play for is called the JFK Rejects. Our Home venue is a club called JFK’s in Peckham. They have another team called JFK’s and the players on that team deemed us rejects because we weren’t good enough to play alongside them. It was meant as an insult, but in true NWA style we removed the insult by appropriating the name and wearing it with pride. Do we win? Occasionally.

JFK’s used to be called Churchill’s. Back then it was a snooker hall. It was taken over, turned into a pool hall, and changed its name to JFK’s. I once commented to the owner on how I liked that; Churchill’s, oh so British and snooker based, and then becoming JFK’s like an American pool hall. He looked at me, puzzled. He called it JFK’s because that’s his name, John Kelly. I don’t know what the F stands for, so you’ll have to take a guess.

Above is our captain, Tony Bailey. This is him in action at Great Yarmouth. He plays for his National team, the West Indies. He is also my mentor; taking time and patience to teach me not only how to hold a cue etc., but also the intricacies of World Rules… if you just play pool in the pub every now and then World Rules will make your brain explode.

Tonight we play Wooosh! So called, I believe, because every time they do well they all go “Wooosh!”

Six player on each team. Six games, a break where the pub provides food, then another six games.

We’ve lost our last three matches; to JFK’s, the Jacks, and the Rat Pack. The top three teams in the league. We’re currently fifth out of eight. Tonight we will win. So, to paraphrase The Soup Nazi, “No Wooosh for you!”

12.31am Wednesday morning. Phew! No Wooosh for them. We lost the first two games, not a good sign. But overall we won 9-3! Hurray! And I won both my games! Hurray again. The Rejects are back! Well done team.

yarmouth-circusThis is not Las Vegas. Circus Circus is in Las Vegas. And The Flamingo. But Circus Circus, The Flamingo and The Golden Nugget are also in Great Yarmouth. Great Yarmouth! Not just Yarmouth. Las Vegas doesn’t get a Great upfront. And so which is best? Let battle commence.

I’ve been to both places… is that showing off? As a child, in the 70’s, I’d go with my family to Mariners’ Park in Great Yarmouth. We’d pretty much stay in the park, and I have no memory of there being any mariners. Now I go to Great Yarmouth once or twice a year and stay at the Vauxhall Caravan Park. I go there to play pool as part of the Waterloo Pool League. Why once or twice? Well, it depends on whether or not we qualify. It’s a serous business, the world of amateur pool.

Once there we play pool, and on Saturday night we head to the Starlight Lounge, on campus, where the comedian manages to offend most decent minded pool players (and there are lots) by mistaking us for a bunch of blokes on stag do’s and telling us racist jokes. Then a stripper comes on and humiliates a young boy. Why do we go? Because it’s there. Mariners’ Park in the 70’s had no such entertainment. It had a pool and a slide. That’s all I can remember. Nothing as swanky as this…


But then the Seventies were sunnier.

If we dare venture out of the confines of the caravan park… and it’s rare, for the rules of the World Eight-Ball Pool Federation are strict, and they like to keep an eye on you. I’ll have to be careful here… I once had to go to Asda and buy a £12 pair of black slip-ons because my shoes were against the rules… Damn, that’s me dis-membered! … Did I point out that it’s a serious business, the world of amateur pool?

So, yes, if you dare venture into Great Yarmouth, before you hit The Golden Nugget, The Flamingo, Circus Circus, you pass the Britannia Pier.


This summer* they had The Chuckle Brothers, Freddie Starr, Jim Davidson, Cannon and Ball, The Grumbleweeds, Smackee Abba, Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown, Elkie Brooks, The Rat Pack, The Four Tops, One Night with Elvis, Bernie Clifton, Jimmy Cricket, The Searchers, Derek Acorah, and Billy Pierce.

Or you could go to Vegas and see Carrot Top or Danny Gans. Or Barry Manilow. Elton John? Bette Midler? or you might prefer David Copperfield (the magician, not the Dickens character, although why the two haven’t combined is beyond me.)

Take your pick. I’m not going to decide. I like both places.

Here’s my favourite slot machine at the Vauxhall Caravan Park.


I have no idea what Smackee Abba is but I’d pay.

* Well, I say this summer because the photograph was taken in April 2008, but look! In April 2008 they were still advertising 2007’s summer season. Maybe not much changes in Great Yarmouth. And before anyone gets too judgemental, remember that Siegfried and Roy performed year after year in Vegas until a tiger ripped Roy Horn’s head off. Get well soon Roy. Apparently they will be back doing their thing in Las Vegas in February 2009. Now that’s magic! oh, unless it’s a hoax.