House of cards

Did you ever have one of those periods in your life when you find yourself seriously contemplating a course of action even though you are absolutely confident that it will end in humiliation and impoverishment? No? Well, I have them all the time and I’m having another one now. One word: poker. Not the yoke you harass your fire with, now, the card game. I’ve only ever played once, years ago, and although I remember losing all my matches and then my car, it was a great laugh. I think what I loved about it most was the fact that it had a language of its own. ‘Too rich for my blood’, ‘Let’s see ‘em, boys’, ‘Read ‘em and weep’, ‘Please don’t take my car’, I just lapped it up. They’re clichés, I know, but that only added to their charm in my eyes. You can’t say these things and not feel electrified, even if your next utterance is the question ‘Which is better, two pair or the one where they’re all the same suit?’ The lengthy gap between that experience and this new-found enthusiasm – ten years, I’m horrified to realise – is not easily explained. I would put it down to common-sense, but an unbroken decade of reason just doesn’t sound like me. Never mind. The fact of the matter is, I’m up for it again. I’ve been practising not moving my face. I’m experimenting with cigars. I’ve got a book on the subject and a new car. For the love of God, somebody stop me!

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