Monday, July 30, 2007


I haven’t found much time for playing poker recently. The last tournament I bought into was at the Broadway back in December. I played a media satellite for the Irish Open, but that was a freebie. I’ve been going full throttle with blonde so far this year, as I convinced myself I would. The Main Site, Live Updates, blondepedia – it’s all heavy going and has left me with no time to play. However, for those who recall my Dog’s Life thread, I still have a passion for poker, and so, after an exhausting four weeks in Vegas, promised myself that I would play more upon return. Hence, my five day poker binge…

Binge Day 1 – Grosvenor Walsall

Initially, it was my Nan’s funeral that lured me back to Brum. She was 97 and on her way out, but was finished off by one of those hospital viruses. At her age, she had no chance, and died a rather miserable death. My Dad keeps bringing up the issue, as you’d expect him to, but the truth is that her clock had reached the 13th hour and was running on borrowed time. It’s just a shame that it wasn’t a more peaceful passing.

I’d never been to a funeral before. For some reason, I assumed that there would be a burial, but it was cremation. My Dad told me to wear what I wanted, but when I arrived in casual clothes, everyone was sooted and booted, so I felt a bit disrespectful.

The ceremony was odd. Everyone was squished into one side of the chapel and a priest who never knew my Nan started the proceedings. He probably does about three of these a day, so what he vomited out sounded like routine and would have been best omitted. Unfortunately, there was little alternative, as nobody felt they had it in them to say anything.

My Dad stepped up to the plate though. The youngest of six kids, he took the responsibility like the hero he is and prepared a speech. Trembling at the podium as he hastily read out his thoughts, it was a painful experience. There were times when he stumbled, forgot a full stop or hesitated as he regained his composure, but he made it through to the end, like I knew he would. Uncomfortable viewing, but I was proud of him.

All the while, the coffin lingered in the background on a raised area of the floor as if awaiting its fate. A couple of times we were obliged to sing hymns, which I hated. They’re long, boring and didn’t seem particularly appropriate. All hymns sound the same to me, and people just pray for them to end so they can stop singing. I think most people mime, or whisper the words, but there’s always one Auntie that bellows like an Opera singer. But why does she always have to be standing next to me?

Finally, the priest closed proceedings by rattling off a few more generic words replacing the name ‘Connie’ in the appropriate spots and pulling closed the curtain like the end of a theatrical performance. My Dad shouted out “Bye mum” and that was that, another life gone, but not forgotten.

My Nan was an intriguing lady. A real people person who would invite people in off the street and chat to strangers at the bus stop. Mad as a hatter in her final years, but always asking, “I’ve made a difference, haven’t I?” Well, 6 children, about 25 grandchildren and God knows how many great randchildren – like my Dad said in his eulogy, “you don’t have to climb Everest to make a difference.”

If there’s one thing I’ll remember, it’s the emphasis on her age. Right up to her death, she was intent on telling all and sundry how old she was. She couldn’t remember who I was unless reminded, but she could remember her age as clear as day, although she kept adding a year on. Apparently, she was 98 when she died, not 97 like we and and her birth certificate had foolishly concluded. It’s like she engraved tally marks on the wall of her mind and totted them up every day. Quite remarkable what our conscious chooses to remember.

[Poker bit to come later...]


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