Friday, September 29, 2006

Unsuitable role models

One of my favourite comic writers, the Irishman Brian O'Nolan (who published a number of comic novels under the pen-name Flann O'Brien, but whose major contribution to the world's stock of life-enhancing silliness was his Irish Times column 'The Cruiskeen Lawn', which he wrote almost daily throughout the middle decades of the last century, under the alias Myles na Gopaleen), enjoyed the same dangerous love-love relationship with drink that I do. Alas, with him it got rather out of control, and it had completely ruined his health by his fifties.

He once observed of his student days at University College, Dublin: "The only return my father ever got for his considerable investment in my education was the assurance that I had infallibly laid the foundations for a career of heavy drinking, and could be relied upon always to make a break of at least 50 [at billiards], even with a bad cue."

My sporting 'vice' was snooker rather than billiards, and I never got quite that good. In general, though, the similarity is striking, alarming.


Anonymous said...

could you be more Brit? Snooker? Billiards? ("The Professor killed him in the Billiards room with a candlestick." - oh wait, that's from "Clue" - isn't Clue American? And how do you kill someone with a candlestick? Bloody bloody ordeal, I'd say.)

Oh, and "snooker" apparently came from India it was the BRITISH India era) - so maybe snooker isn't really Brit either. But then again, my source is wikipedia...

Froog said...

Billiards (and other games of its ilk) started out as indoor, table-top versions of croquet (originally the targets were hoops rather than pockets). We Brits like to take the credit; although I think the French also try to stake a claim (actually, we invented just about all the games that matter: football, tennis, football, cricket, football, golf, football, hockey, football, rugby [if you must.... I LOATHE the game myself, but appreciate that it has quite a following around the world], football, darts, football, snooker, football, Monopoly, football, Cluedo (the British precursor of 'Clue' - most board games and parlour games are of British origin too),football, football, football).

Snooker, as you say, started in British India, a relatively late invention. It was, I think, created by British Army officers as a variation on billiards - not adapted from any native Indian game.

It's odd that Americans often seem to use the word 'billiards', although they do not play the game, and have no concept of it; for them the word is, I assume, merely a high-falutin' substitute for 'pool'.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but who invented Football?


and not that I'm much of a pool (club?) (bar?) (house?) junkie (obviously I don't even know the proper name for the venue) but I think you're right - until now I didn't realize there were different versions/names of the game. (though as a child I did own/play with my own table top mini version of pool - whatever happened to that toy? hmm.)

I'll have to ask friends/fam back home with pool tables in their game rooms if they are aware if it.

What's it like in the U.K.? in the U.S., once you have your suburban monster house with 5 living areas, 10 bedrooms, and 12 bathrooms, you buy a pool table - I dont' know if any of these ppl ever go out to play pool or even know how - but it's a necessity, like the in-ground pool in the backyard and the basketball hoop on driveway (who invented basketball?)