For those of you who are not familiar with this apparently genteel pastime, I kid you not, on occasions, it can resemble an all out Civil war and don’t I know it, because the first time I was captured, I think I was recruited as the cannon ball!
On reflection, sometimes it is quite handy to have a scapegoat in one’s mist, passing the buck, for possibly your own inadequacies. A very cowardly practice I would say, especially when you find yourself to be the said scapegoat!
I fell into the trap well and truly, was caught on the hop by being invited to a’ Bridge’ supper’. I protested, declaring that really my Bridge was virtually non-existent, and also I had no time for such frivolities as I was too busy with my sailing. Don’t be silly she said in a frightfully haughty voice, we accommodate every level of player, and in any case, we need to make up numbers, Oh dear, oh dear, I had that sinking feeling that my life could be spinning out of control.
Oh dear indeed, now what do I do? I simply have to remind you that in those far off days, yes, we did have a few modern amenities, a telephone, but only just, it would surely be difficult to find a friend to give me a clue. Possibly lurking around Dubai there might have been a copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica but could one have gleaned any useful tips there?
Maybe there might be a chapter on how to become a card sharp in one easy lesson or another on bluff and counter bluff, not too sure, but there was no time to find out anyway. I was on my tod, OK, Mike would be by my side but seriously not too sure what good that would do either!
I had nobody to ask for advice, after all Dubai was a very small place It just couldn’t be admitted that my card playing skills might be ranked on the Richter scale as possibly just above zero. What an admission that would be to those formidable card wheeling ladies, OK, best keep quiet.
The day finally arrived, yes; I was literally quaking in my boots, praying for a sudden earth quake that would swallow me up. No such luck, we sallied forth and found the house eventually, which was at the back of Deira, tucked away in the dark sandy streets.
The large Arab door was opened which led into a very large space, the vestibule, or in Arab parlance the Majlis, meeting room, where people were milling around before making their way to the card tables. I was about to meet my Waterloo!
Our hostess was frightfully nice, if you know what I mean. Oh, how lovely to see you, my Dear, she chortled, now who don’t you know? Actually, squinting around came to the conclusion that I didn’t know anyone and at that moment didn’t want to either!! Or maybe I had succumbed to a temporary bout of amnesia, which I hoped would last all night, yes that would do the trick!
My only hope now is that they have mislaid the packs of cards, no such luck. A voice boomed out, please take a card, check which number you are and on which table you are playing where you should meet up with your partner for the first rubber.
I stumbled off found the table and was introduced to my first partner, I was simply terrified, totally lost for words. I hadn’t a clue on God’s earth what they were talking about, or how to reply to their unfathomable questions and, when it came to what convention do you play, I said usually the Chopin.
Actually, thought that was very funny, only to be met with withering looks from my partner and also the opposition, did one call them that? More like the enemy!
The cards were shuffled, cut and dealt, yes, I had thirteen but as you will have detected didn’t have much idea what to do with them, save arranging them into suits, which I dutifully did. Now what, ah yes, one needed points, how did you come by those? It then came to me it was something to do with how many coloured jobs you possessed, but really didn’t know how many points each represented.
Surely, my partner would have had apoplexy if he had known what was going on, as to me he looked terrifying. So, I decided to stay mute, clutching the cards in my sweaty hands, gulping my Gin and Tonic thinking it’s not unlike being before the firing squad, please get it over with so I can be put out of my misery.
No such luck, I stumbled around, shaking like a leaf, clutching the cards, dropping the cards, slurping too much Gin, generally feeling exceedingly sorry for myself and yes, out of my depth! Would the evening ever end, if it doesn’t end soon I may have to make a dash for it!
Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, we had changed tables many times, something akin to a terrifying game of musical chairs, only with no happy music to lift the spirits. We had played with the other pairs and now it was time for the prize giving. No surprises here.
I don’t really want to go down that route, but suffice to say is there such a position as minus last, well there is tonight! We bade our farewells and I dashed for the door as fast as my little legs would carry me. Once it was closed I collapsed in the sandy road in tears, what a terrible disaster. I had felt like a pariah, unwittingly having stumbled into or was it onto an alien planet.
Well, Jan, that is another lesson learned in this Social minefield, don’t be bamboozled into anything, especially making up a forth at Bridge, just because those terrifying women needed a forth. You realise that once you had acquiesced through the kindness of your heart all you would receive is abuse because you trumped your partner’s trick – Oh no, count me out!
I was still smarting the following morning but being a well brought up young lady it went without saying that I had to phone our hostess, but what did I say?
My dear, such a lovely evening, I so love playing Bridge but so sorry I seemed to have been little off colour or was it colour blind because I couldn’t work out my hearts from my spades. As for those no trumps I was looking find them all night but couldn’t find them anywhere, they must have landed up on the floor!! Ah well it’s only a game isn’t it? Obviously not too friendly though.
No that wouldn’t do maybe I could say I lost my glasses; enough of this just pick up the phone and get it over with.
Oh, hello she said, yes, the food was exceptionally good wasn’t it, I have such a wonderful cook, lucky you I thought! That was before I had stuttered, I’m so sorry that I ruined your Bridge evening, to which there was a deathly silence. Then she lobed what seemed like a hand grenade down the phone, by saying, you did know didn’t you that the shortish chap wearing glasses, is an International player and plays in many Tournaments around the World.
Oh my God, he was my first partner, no wonder he was giving me pitying looks whilst playing and also for the rest of the evening. No doubt he would be thinking having been bequeathed me as a partner would have stopped him scoring maximum points. Consequently, he would have been unable to be crowned King of the Castle for the evening, which would have dented his ego no end!
He would have been in the fortunate position, of course, being able to blame it on his partner; nothing to do with him at all, such is the nature of this terrifying game…
Yes, the moral of this story is never fall for a sob story especially when it involves making up a four at Bridge because you know what the consequences will be. Yes, at the end of the session you will resemble a squashed fly, not a pretty site.
You know you are happiest when pitting your wits against the elements in your sailing boat, being in charge of your own destiny. Always bear that in mind when you receive another invitation to make up a dreaded fourth at Bridge.
Hi, I hope you have found this little tale amusing and that you too haven’t experienced such a disaster!
I just have to tell you, my Blog has now received a million hits and that’s in only 9 months of posting. Where is the book?
Essay Number 35 will be published on l4th May, 2015