I had some friends round for poker tonight. I used to have quite regular poker nights, but haven't done it too much recently. In fact one of tonight's guests hadn't been round to play for about five years, which made us all slightly conscious of the rapid passage of time. The relentless gigging has taken its toll on my social life, but with less gigs this autumn I am being a bit more sociable.
Yesterday I went out to a book launch and had a fine old time and also met someone who was vaguely interested in working with me. My networking skills are pretty much zero and I have some ridiculous sense that people should succeed on merit, but I should know by now how many careers are actually created over drinks and at parties. I have left it late to get over my social awkwardness, but getting older means one is less self-conscious or maybe you just get to the point where you aren't bothered if you're annoying or irritating anyone and just get on with it. I don't think I end up annoying or irritating people all that much, but as a younger man I was stymied by the fear that I was doing just that and so would absent myself or just not go along to things in the first place. It's a terrible curse and one that I am not entirely over, but I feel more comfortable in my skin these days.
Our poker game was mainly light-hearted and not too competitive (I was extremely competitive, but no one else was), with mostly newer players. I had warned everyone that the bathroom door was broken, so not to shut the door, but my friend Mackay didn't understand or listen, because as we were sitting down to play I got a call from him telling me he was locked in the bathroom. I have experienced such humiliation myself though I had no phone and was in a country where I didn't speak the language and was in the ladies
. I was a little fearful that Mackay was not going to be able to get out. The door handle had come off on the outside of the bathroom and the one on the other side was not turning, plus the broken handle (which I could otherwise have reattached) was inside the bathroom. This could have been like sofagate all over again. I had fears that we might have to call someone out to rescue him. But I found a piece of cutlery that fitted into the necessary place and had created a makeshift handle. He was free to escape.
He claimed he hadn't realised that the door wasn't working properly, even though I'd told him it had, but I worried that this was all an elaborate bluff. If he could make us all think he was that big an idiot then we wouldn't take him seriously at the table and he could defeat us all. If that was his plan it didn't work and he didn't win a thing. I suspect that he is just an idiot.
But it's not important who won (I won one game and came second in the other two, so I am the best), what's important is that I drank too much wine, got annoyed at my bad beats, hypocritically celebrated when fortune went my way and had fun with my friends. Half a decade can fly by fast, so make the most of these times.