Monday, December 10, 2007

On Gambling

On Gambling

Visit Cromer and die. Of boredom.At the age of nine, I pissed my entire holiday spending money up the wall in an amusement arcade in Cromer. And to be brutally honest, I haven't looked back since.

A whole pound, which in those days would have been enough to buy a large house set in several acres of landscaped gardens, all frittered away on those coin-shoving machines and the highly respectable pastime that is the pinball table.

My brother, highly amused, made up a song about this episode (Called, rather appropriately "One pound! One pound! In the amusement arcade!") a tune he still uses some thirty years later to wind me up. I can still hear its falsetto tones now as clearly as he made it up on the spot, taunting me, as I caught hell from my mother for my complete lack of loyalty.

Fair play to him, in retrospect - very few composers can come up with a song with that sort of longetivity.

This lack of loyalty for which I was royally upbraided being my refusal to stand at the seaward end of the pier at Cromer, holding a fishing rod for two weeks, catching household meals for the next three months.

Oh yes, we ate a lot of fish after that particular holiday, because my father had discovered the so-called art of fishing. It took several years to cure him of this dreadful affliction, and wean him onto the more socially acceptable pursuits of lawn bowls and yachting.

I have a trouble with fishing of any description. I cannot see the attraction of sitting around for hours on end in all weather, at all hours of the day or night waiting for some fish to bite the hook you are hopefully dangling into the water. It is not, as some anorak-clad enthusiasts point out, a battle of wits between man and fish. It is a waste of life, a one-sided battle between fish and cunt, one for which I hold no enthusiasm whatsoever.

So, when trapped in Cromer, and you've toured the end-of-the-pier lifeboat station for the twentieth time, there is little else to do except blow your life's savings in the penny arcade, or die of old age. I took one look at the dried-up husks sheltering in the piers shelters, and knew exactly which way I was going to fall.

The penny arcade won. They got all my money, physically threw me out of the establishment and scarred me for life.

And this is no exagerration, for your humble narrator has battled life-long against the twin vices of gambling and profligate spending. A battle, some three decades on, against which I am only just turning the tide.

There are groups for people like me. I should know. I go to them.

I bet the bastards from all the penny arcades in the world get together at the end of the season to have a good laugh over all the kids' holidays they've ruined. One fact I now know with 100 per cent certainty is this: living in a seaside resort, I can confirm that they really do turn up at Lloyds Bank at 9.30 on a Monday morning with their weekend's takings in a wheelbarrow. Bastards.

Damn you amusement arcades! Damn you fishing! And damn you my weak, weak will! I could have kept that pound, invested it in fish futures, and this time next year, Rodders...

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