Bridge Club News Issue Two (15.10.99)

Why doesn't it go limp when I hold it?
Helen Rose

An infrequent posting to the Bridge Club Forum that reaches the parts other postings fail to reach.

I played at the club on Monday with Rich and we were surprised, touched even, at the number of people who asked where Sarah was. This is a reflection on the excellent job she did at maintaining contact between the two clubs. Of course, they didn't know Sarah's name so the commonly-put question was "Where's that tall girl?". In a posting this week the tall girl asks if there is "any gossip". If she's looking for gossip in the second issue of Bridge Club News then she will be disappointed. To me "gossip" sounds perilously close to "tabloid sensationalism". No need for that, of course. Accurate quoting of what people have said is the hallmark of good investigative journalism. I shall be sticking to the facts.

Where to start? At the time it didn't seem significant, but let's cast our minds back to Saturday night and the end of the Otley Run at the T&C. My informant tells me that Cath and Phil left the club early, after dancing with each other all night. Cath's excuse on such an early departure was "Someone's feeling a bit tired". In reply to Richard's jovial comment "he won't be much use to you then" Cath's reply was just a little too quick, a little too pat, a little too defensive: "we're just housemates".

When the stalwarts of the club met on Monday we discussed the incident, at the time it didn't seem news worthy. But over the course of the week we picked up a few nuggets here and there, which retrospectively casts matters in a different light. Monday night also saw the curious incident of the club captain who walked the streets of Leeds.

Onto Wednesday. Whilst we were playing bridge Cath and Rich were joking about the events of Saturday. Then the whole room went quiet as Cath said "When I got home I went straight into a bed". No sensationalism. At the time we thought it was a mere slip of the tongue.

After bridge on Thursday a number of people noticed the gentle caresses by slender fingers, it's the kind of thing that can't be missed; cf the mysterious case of the massaging of the inner thigh. Usually Cath and Phil can be relied upon to stay until closing time. Thursday night they left early, saying that they were "feeling a bit tired".

Whenever a group of people are united by a common interest, it evolves its own set of words and phrases. Sometimes these words make a transition into mainstream language, sometimes they remain understood only to a small number of like-minded people. The popularity of these words ebbs and flows over time. Over the Summer the euphemism "doing my washing" gained popularity in the bridge club. In Autumn it appears that we have a new euphemism, "feeling a bit tired". Say no more.

On Thursday Phil was basking as he played bridge surrounded by three females. He made a philosophical reply to Rich's comment about this "It only counts if you get them into a bed". Curious choice of words that.

After Cath and Phil left we were all thinking about this. I was wondering what to write. Cath is the club captain and she has my full support (no smoked filled rooms). My only adverse comment is that she doesn't have very highly developed reproductive skills: the first week she copied the draft version of the intermediate notes containing the scribbled corrections rather than the pristine revised version, the second week was fine, but the third week she didn't even reach the photocopier as she manage to lose the notes. Whilst we were pondering these points, Arnout put into hard words what we had all been thinking.

Phil's only been in the club three weeks, but already his investment is paying dividends .

All credit to Arnout. Despite the fact that he drinks lager and that English isn't his native language he aptly summarised the week's events. Or at least one of the events of the week. We all know how single-minded Anne can be when she has a purpose.

On Tuesday Anne said: "I'd like to see Rich in his underwear".

On Thursday Anne said: "I've seen Rich in his underwear".

On Thursday, a little latter, Anne said: "You didn't come much last year, did you Rich?".

I wasn't here last year, so I'm not certain of the phonetics of the last sentence. Still it appears that when Geoff gave me his files on the bridge club there were some things that weren't mentioned.

Over the last two weeks Helen has been focusing her attention on the difference between boys and men. She hasn't said what traumatic experience in her recent past is responsible for her interest in this subject --- your guess is as good as mine. Last week she identified two criteria:

  1. The fathering of children. (She wouldn't say if fathering children by multiple partners was more, or less, manly).
  2. Having a mortgage.

During the Otley run a third condition was added.

  1. People who are sufficiently old are men. (Thank you Helen).

By the time we had reached the Original Oak the rugby was about to start and we split into two groups. The large group (Cath, Manchester Phil, not-yet-tired Phil, Russell, Arnout, Matt, Jon) stayed to watch England play the All Blacks. Ben, Anne, Helen and myself went to Ben's house to play bridge. During the bridge Helen was knocking her three rules into shape, applying them to members of the bridge club. She came a little stuck when applying them to handy Andy. On the one hand "he's definitely a boy" but on the other "he has people's lives in his hands!" (a little too dramatic I thought). Helen asked again "Is Andy a man or a boy?"

It was one of those moment where a group of people have the same idea at the same time and in that moment three sets of eyes turned in the same direction, onto the same person. Under this intense scrutiny all Anne could muster was a girlish giggle. The question clearly provoked amusement, but neither a confirmation nor a denial was heard.

My informant tells me that on Saturday night he was moved by the events on the dancefloor. It brought a lump into his throat to see Anne spending an evening dancing around her handbag ("an obvious Andy substitute").

With its flashing backwards and forwards in time this report is nonlinear in structure. I hope it isn't too challenging for some of the younger members of the club. The first issue of this august newsletter appeared shortly after the release of the `A' level results. Does the declining standards at `A' level mean that today's undergraduates less prepared for a rigorous university education than those that went before? Do the young members of the bridge club personify todays students? My informant suggests that the bridge club should have a policy of going out clubbing the day that the `A' level results are released. It's the best time of the year to apply Richard's Rule of 17.

I mention `A' level results because I received some complaints that my postings are too difficult to comprehend. Andy's reports are supposedly better because they are easy to understand. Sure, he made them up, but they don't contain any allusions. "You start at A and go to B". It certainly appears that the gamut of intelligence in some sections of the bridge club runs all the way from A to B.

Returning to Saturday night. Before splitting up we had agreed to meet at the Packhorse at 6pm. We were a little late getting there because, although we'd agreed 6pm, I assumed that the other group wouldn't leave the Oaks until the rugby had finished. On the way up we spotted them ordering food. Since they'd just ordered we decided that it would be quicker if we went a few doors up the road, to the standard bridge club pizza place. Incidentally, this was the place where the curious incident of Helen's fresh fresher friend from Somerset occurred on the night of Sarah's departure from Leeds.

After we had ordered Arnout walked in. It transpired that, before ordering food, the other group had first looked in at the Packhorse to see if we were there. Discovering that we were not they decided to order food and left. However, Arnout was left behind. He'd entered the Packhorse, ordered a beer --- after all that's what you do on the Otley Run, right? --- and gone to the toilet. A few minutes latter he'd re-entered the bar to get his pint and discovered that he was all on his own. The group had left him, all on his own. They hadn't told him where they were going, all on his own. Under these circumstances he did the sensible thing, drank his solitary pint solitarily. After drinking his pint he was still all on his own. He wandered down the road, spotting our group in the pizza place. He then told us his story.

Helen was so moved that she stood up and gave him a hug, letting him know that he was still a valuable member of the club, and that, whilst the group led by the club captain may have callously discarded him, he was now amongst friends. I told Arnout where Cath and the others were and suggested that he go and tell them his sad story. Unfortunately Orange-Juice Girl did not give him the deserved hug. Instead she raised her arm imperiously and said "Go". It was like a scene from the bible as Arnout, head hanging down, ostracised from the larger group by Orange Juice Girl, walked slowly, despondently, back to the smaller, friendly, group. (Ostracised, originally written ostrinised).

Having eaten, both groups reunited. In view of the comments made by members of the smaller group imperious Cath was replaced by the smiling friendly Cath that we admire, some more than others. Realising the error of her ways (perhaps a little frightened about the prospects of smoke-filled rooms) she gave Arnout a reunification hug, and we carried onto the Packhorse.

Orange-Juice Girl? As is traditional on these events we started at Woody's. There Cath decided to lead by example. Matt was outraged by this behaviour, hence the new nickname for the club captain. Latter on in the day Cath would show her stamina, moving up a gear to drink halves. Orange-Juice Girl sounds like the name of a superheroine. Superheroines have costumes. What kind of costume would orange-juice girl wear? We saw the photos on Tuesday, we saw the costume. There are costumes, and then there are uniforms.

Whilst we were at the Fenton Cath exclaimed that "I smell like a drunk". I'm not certain if there was a hint of pride there, but this sentence did conjure up some rather unsavoury images. By this time Rich had joined the group and he was able to do what he does best, putting unsavoury images into words. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes the words are required to fully explore the depths of the picture. A dark moment for the club captain.

The Fenton wasn't packed. In fact it was the last best pub of the night: the Drydock was too full, we didn't order there, the bouncers wouldn't let Matt into the Rat and Parrot, and the Courtyard was heaving. We should have stayed longer at the Fenton. We were in a rather secluded area near the fireplace. Cath was sitting down. I don't know if it was by design or accident but her chair was in the middle and the surrounding chairs were so positioned as to create the impression of sycophants hanging onto her every word. Was it her perfume or the beery fumes that attracted them like moths to a light?

We had worked our way down from the Packhorse to the Fenton via the Eldon, where Rich had joined the group. Whilst we were doing this Alix, Lee, and Neil were doing their own mini pub crawl, circulating through the Feast & Firkin, the Eldon, the Union, and the Fenton. Somehow our paths never intersected. The Feast was on the list of pubs that Helen had circulated but Cath had decided that we shouldn't bother with it. (I haven't been there since shortly after it opened, the beer was crap and there's been no reason to go back). The Union was not on the list, it's not part of the Run proper.

Alix and Lee went into the union, Neil having first to get some money from the bank. He returned to the union only to find that the guys on the door wouldn't let him in on his staff card. Alix and Lee inside the union. Neil on the outside. Eventually he was able to chatup a drunken student who agreed to sign him in. No gossip Sarah, just the facts.

Having missed Neil's group we went into town and the onto the T&C, since I've already covered events there I'll draw things to an end. Upon leaving Ben's house to join the main group it was remarked that if he wanted his surfaces to get a good scrubbing he should invite Helen round to play once a week.

There are some incidents which I have not had time to describe.

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Page Created: 15th October 1999.
Last Updated: 21st October 1999.