Saturday, February 18, 2006

Friday 17th February: A Smoke Filled Room.

Kodama was packed tonight, with five tables busy and the atmosphere thick with smoke, just like it used to be every Friday a few years ago. I wonder if mama had expected them because she had made some extra good side dishes for the drinks. This is what I got with my first beer while waiting for Noda and Ray to arrive:

A chicken and herb meatball in soup with mushrooms, carrots and so forth, served hot with beer.

A few minutes later my "yakimeshi" arrived. I mention this dish quite often, and here it is! Fried rice with chopped veg and meat, and a side dish of miso soup with egg. DELICIOUS! OK OK, not the greatest pics in the world but they were taken with the farty little camera on my mobile phone...

Ray ordered the same dish when he arrived. Then, along came a dish of stewed beef and white radish with the second beer - another winner! Finally (yep, only three beers tonight for me), a dish of peanuts supplemented with choco-filled biccies. Not a bad spread.

Anyway, down to business.

Because there were only three of us (Jaime is on holiday, Kenyon cancelled due to circumstances beyond his control, Eri had a fever) the games rattled along with the Poor Little Cypriot finishing the first four as the only winner which enabled him to wipe out his deficit on the Grand Accumulated Results Table.

Tonight saw two
Yakitori boys fail to win a single hand in a game, Noda in the second, Ray in the fifth. Noda was last Oya and the two foreigners agreed that one of them ought to complete a cheap hand quickly to leave Noda skewered. The PLC was once again approaching Tenpai when he threw out the 1-Coins and Ray declared:

"Ron! Er, Nan, nashi nashi! One thousand please!"

You can't get much cheaper than that! In cash terms I paid out a measly 30 yen to reap Noda's 200 yen fine. Well worth it!

Actually, I told a bit of a fib when I wrote just then that Ray said "...
nashi nashi." It was actually one of the old geezers at the table next to ours who said it, but Ray did say he would use that form instead of our customary "den den" when counting the two extra points added to every score. (Note to visitors to this site: Japanese mahjong has an alternative, easier method of calculating the score as well as the standard complex counting method. You always add two points to find the correct score and as you count you name the Yaku, count the bonuses and then finish with the two points, saying "den den," or in the case of our neighbour, "nashi nashi." Got it?)

There were at least five
Kokushimusou near misses, with Noda and Ray waiting on Tempai on one occasion each. I don't know how many times Chitoi (7 Pairs) was the winning hand but it was a lot.

There were not so many long
Oyaships and only a couple went to Ryanshi, both times with Noda as Oya. However, it was only in the last game when Noda broke through, racking up five 100-tenbou, pipping the PLC to completion on Tsumo just after he declared Riichi on the fourth. But the PLC claimed Noda's tile on the fifth hand of the Oyaship to win back a bit of his mula in that game. Ray found himself running out of time to get rid of his Yakitori in the South round. Ray was second Oya and after Noda's run was over Ray hoped for an end of session revival (the famous "Ray Revival") but it was as fickle and fleeting as was the looked for postprandial Yakimeshi Inspiration. Ray's last Oyaship came to a swift and cheap end when he threw the 2-Bamboo and the PLC declared on the final Chitoi hand of the evening. However, Noda was the only winner of the last game, and that one victory of his evening got him into the black, mainly at Ray's expense, although when I got home tonight and did all the calculations I discovered that Noda had done just enough to keep the Poor Little Cypriot out of the black on the Grand Accumulated Results Table despite his final score of +108 for the evening!

The reckoning for tonight's session:

David +37, +55, +32, +22, -14 = +108
Noda -13, -27**, -1, -17, +69 = +11
Ray -24, -4, -31, -5, -55** = -119

Noda and I trotted off to the carpark and Noda dropped me off at Nishi-Hiroshima in good time for the last tram.

Now that Ray has moved out of town into a staff flat for which he pays a peppercorn rent he finds himself flush with cash despite subsidising the other players' evening. Off he strolls as happy as Larry to his hotel on Peace Boulevard!

All told, an excellent evening.

David Hurley
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Monday, February 13, 2006

How His Omega Precedes His Alpha (By Virtue of a Dormitive Virtue)

Here is a pic of Old Ardle (black) insouciant in the face of defeat.

Until he overlooked the fact that some of his tiles were about to be surrounded, Old Ardle had been playing a bit above his usual standard. I don't say that he was on his way to victory, merely that defeat, though very likely judging from the early arrangement of tiles, was not likely to be so comprehensive as heretofore.

The encirclement of the Black Cameltonian's stones occurred after this manner: Old Ardle had been attempting to encircle a small company of the Poor Little Cypriot's, which the PLC had defended by "extending the line." But then the PLC, rather than "extend the line" again, played inside. Old Ardle gave him one of those "What-did-you-do-that-for?" looks and resumed the sleepwalk encircling manoeuvre. It would have been a beautiful thing to do, had he been awake to the fact that his supporting forces had no more than one liberty. The PLC took the liberty to deprive them of theirs and into captivity they tramped.

There was a moment when it looked as if Old Ardle might take captivity captive for he did not give up but ordered the Cameltonian forces to attempt to break in behind the Cypriot lines (see right side of the board in the photo). The PLC therefore had to engage in a shoring-up operation in one theatre, while working on a larger encirclement in another, an encirclement which eventually secured his own flank (top of board in the photo) and sent a larger number of Cameltonians into captivity.

Finally, Old Ardle busied himself strengthening his line instead of grabbing what remained of the diminishing spaces in the centre of the board and so got squeezed.

The flaw in OA's game is this, that the end cometh before his beginning hath properly started, hence the sobriquet "OA": his Omega comes before his Alpha has got going.

As today was a bank holiday here in Nippon (National Socialist Foundation Day or something) "David English House" was shut and so the PLC did not have to scoot off to play snakes and ladders and cards with the kids. Instead, as both he and Old Ardle had got a bit peckish and also a bit tired of sitting in the Blue Flat Cafe, they headed over to Mollie Malones for fish-n-chips, a couple of beers and a chinwag.

The other day I downloaded Nietzsche's
Beyond Good and Evil and, as I mentioned to Old Ardle, I was amused to see that Old Nietzsche, at least in the translation that I am reading, refered to Immanuel Kant as "Old Kant" -
A time came when people rubbed their foreheads, and they still rub them today. People had been dreaming, and first and foremost - old Kant. "By means of a means" - he had said, or at least meant to say. But, is that an answer? An explanation? Or is it not rather merely a repetition of the question? How does opium induce sleep? "By means of a means," namely the virtus dormitiva, replies the doctor Moliere,
Quia est in eo virtus dormitiva,
Cujus est natura sensus assoupire.

There is much sterner meat to feed on in
Beyond Good and Evil. Consider this:

Eventually under very peaceful conditions, there is less and less occasion or need to educate one’s feelings in severity, even severity in justice begins to trouble the conscience; a stern and lofty nobility and self-responsibility is received almost as an offence and awakens mistrust, ‘the lamb’, even more ‘the sheep’, is held in higher and higher respect. There comes a point of morbid mellowing and over-tenderness in the history of society at which it takes the side even of him who harms it, the criminal, and does so honestly and wholeheartedly. Punishment: that seems somehow unfair… ‘To administer punishment is itself dreadful!’ – with this question herd morality, the morality of timidity, draws its ultimate conclusion.

Supposing all danger, the cause of fear, could be abolished, this morality would herewith also be abolished: it would no longer be necessary, it would no longer regard itself as necessary! He who examines the conscience of the present-day European will have to extract from a thousand moral recesses and hiding-places always the same imperative, the imperative of herd timidity: ‘we wish that there will one day no longer be anything to fear!’ One day – everywhere in Europe, the way and will to that day is called ‘progress’.
Beyond Good and Evil (1886)

The old Strict and Particular Baptist ministers whose sermons I used to hear of a Sunday (until by virtue of a dormative virtue I dozed off...) would preach from time to time from the tenth verse of the thirteenth chapter of the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel:

BECAUSE, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace...

By now, by virtue of that seemingly universal dormitive virtue, the PLC and Old Ardle, began to flag and fail and feel that their natural senses were assoupiring... and so they went their several ways home to partake of their several suppers in the several bosoms of their several families.

David Hurley
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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Friday 10th February: Winners Win & Losers Lose...

This evening started off quietly enough with Kenyon taking top spot mainly at the expense of David. Jaime and Tim strolled in to Kodama about half way through the game, just in time to observe the beginnings of David's collapse.

Jaime joined in the second game and didn't look back for five games, only conceding a single point in the very last game of the evening, thereby bolstering his second place position (like Sheffield Utd in the Championship).

Jaime was sat to the left of Noda which proved fortunate when Noda roared into life in the second game and racked up about eight hyaku-tenbou. The payouts got higher and higher... David and Kenyon's trays both emptied out. Jaime reminisced about the days when the "empty tray" rule was brought in. David had always disliked that rule but now he began to wonder why - after all, the "empty tray" rule is like a stop-loss on a bad investment. To make things worse David had been bumbling around and three times during the course of the evening he had discovered that he only had 12 tiles in his hand.

By the end of the second game David was on -108 and Kenyon had given back his early winnings and dropped into negative territory which produced quite a lot of anguished ejaculations as the plan had apparently not been to escape from the bottom by sinking more slowly (than David) but actually to move upwards!

Tim beetled off after a beer and we wish him a happy holiday. Jaime was left twiddling his thumbs as the Noda run continued apace. If I remember rightly, David declared Riichi in the ninth hand and Kenyon promptly went out on a Toitoi hand that at first glance looked like a Chombo but proved perfectly valid.

It turned out that Noda, now on +116, had reached his peak. It used to be the case that Noda's victories were fueled by shouchu, but tonight all his successes came in the early part of the evening, after which he did not win another game. But gradually sinking from a height of +116
still left him sitting pretty at the end of his evening and so Noda's 2006 "return of form" continues.

David won the third, fifth and seventh games though how he did it is a bit of a mystery since he was putting the beers away and throwing out some dodgy tiles - most notably when he went for Tenpai by throwing out the 6-Coins, which happened to be a dora, while Jaime was conspicuously going for a Coin-based hand.

Jaime: "Ron! - Chinitsu!"

It has to be said that knocking back several beers while playing mahjong is not only thoroughly enjoyable, but it also serves the purpose of providing a convenient excuse for defeat at the table... at least it used to until these cola drinkers came along and started losing too! I put it another way:

drinking at the table once provided a good excuse for losing,
losing now provides a good excuse for drinking at the table.

The Cola-Drinker-in-Chief started off brightly enough tonight, but his advance was halted by Noda's second game victory. After that he appeared to be recovering in the fourth game but then underwent another late-night collapse which seems to confirm a trend that has been commented on before, namely, that if play continues after David catches the last tram home then Kenyon recovers and goes on to win, but if David stays then Kenyon collapses...

Having secured a very comfortable position for himself in the "2006 Accumulated Results Table," Jaime is heading off to Europe for three weeks. Happy holidays.

The Reckoning:

Jaime --, +1, +3, +41, +9, +27, -1 = +80
Noda +4, +112, -40, -17, -17 = +42
David -28, -80, +48, -41, +34, -17, +38 = - 54
Kenyon +24, -33, -3, +17, -26, -10, -37 = -68

David Hurley
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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

All Human Evil Comes From This...

Saturday afternoon in Hiroshima. Old Ardle and I lounge in the BFCafe over coffee and a game of Go. Ardle has decided to play with unaccustomed celerity while discussing, among other things, equestrian matters. Firstly, OA climbed upon one of his hobby horses (a silly filly called "Do You Know The Classics?") but was had hardly straddled the pole when he was unseated and deposited in the mire by an outlandish assertion that Cicero came unstuck because of his support for Caesar or something. Cicero, the Pater Patriae who, with Cato the Younger, put down the Catiline conspiracy and had the conspirators hanged, Romans though they were, for seeking to make a king of Catiline.

After that little misadventure we went for a canter where the going was firmer and Old Ardle more confident in the seat, for he confessed to having had some experience riding dark horses while the PLC kept a tighter reign on his tongue and said that he was not sure that he should even if he could.

So while those two are riding their hobby horses and jousting black against white across the Go board I shall take a moment to supply some links to a couple of not entirely unrelated UK news stories that are of much moment for latter-day Ciceronians.

1. CPS v Griffin & Cockroach


"The far-right British National Party (BNP) has become the focus of media attention once again, following the broadcast of the BBC's undercover documentary The Secret Agent.

"The documentary is the product of a six-month investigation by reporter Jason Gwynne, who infiltrated the BNP and then covertly filmed its members expressing just the sort of moronic, bigoted opinions over a drink that you would expect them to.

"'I heard the BNP leader Nick Griffin give a speech inciting racial hatred and the founder, John Tyndall, inciting racial hatred and I heard some awful anti-Semitic remarks', says Gwynne. As one critic says: 'Next, he will be telling us that he has discovered strong evidence of Roman Catholicism in the Vatican.'

"While the results of Gwynne's investigation may not be surprising, it is now being suggested that some of the BNP figures featured in the documentary should face prosecution, especially since two of them appear to confess to forms of criminal assault and intimidation.

"It is legitimate that these possible crimes should now be investigated, having been brought to light by Gwynne's documentary. More dubious is the suggestion that BNP leader Nick Griffin should also be subject to some form of prosecution, for being filmed calling Islam a 'vicious wicked faith' - something which, in a free society, he should surely be entitled to say.

"Griffin has protested that 'it's still not illegal to criticise Islam'. In principle he is right - though given the recent introduction into law of concepts such as 'hate speech', 'hate crime' and 'incitement to racial hatred', it is debatable whether he is right in practice. Incitement is an especially woolly category that conflates speech with action, and which can be used to pursue censorious agendas. The response to the BBC documentary suggests that many today make little distinction between words and actions, and believe that the expression of certain views should be as punishable as committing a violent act. The consequences for freedom of speech are as obvious as they are worrying." Spiked.

Friday 3rd February - Partial Acquittal
"Mr Griffin, of Llanerfyl, Powys, had denied two charges of using words or behaviour intended to stir up racial hatred and two alternative charges of using words or behaviour likely to stir up racial hatred.

"He was acquitted of one of each charge in relation to one speech, but the jury failed to reach a verdict in respect to a second speech in which he called Islam a "wicked vicious faith".

"His colleague denied four charges of using words or behaviour intended to stir up racial hatred and four of using words or behaviour likely to stir up racial hatred.

"He was acquitted of four charges - two of each - in relation to two speeches made at The Royal pub in Pudsey and the Falconer's Rest pub in Morley, in which he described asylum seekers as 'a little bit like cockroaches'.

"The jury failed to reach a verdict over two other speeches, in one of which Mr Collett said 'let's show these ethnics the door in 2004'. BBC.

Libertarian Alliance Director Sean Gabb welcomed the result and said:

"The rights to freedom of speech and association are fundamental to a free society. So far as these rights are diminished, that society becomes less free. I was born in a country where these rights had been enjoyed for centuries. I have reached middle age in a politically correct police state where the Government is now trying to silence its opponents through the courts. Particularly under Tony Blair, this country has become a more genteel version of Zimbabwe. [Ebagum Gabb, tha got carried away wi' thyself and I don't think Blair is owt like Mugabe. Ed.]

"Doubtless, there are people who take offence at the expression of certain views on race and immigration. But free speech that does not include the right to give offence is not free speech. It is the political equivalent of decaffeinated coffee.

"If people are upset by what they read or hear, let them ignore it or argue against it. There is no place in these debates for the Thought Police."

Another Director (how many do they have?), Dr Chris Tame, commented on the decision of two UK banks to close BNP bank accounts:

"Although there is no group in Britain more opposed to EVERY aspect of the BNPs overt and covert agendas - its welfare statism, its socialist economics, its crackpot anti-monetarist currency views, its environmentalism, its social, political and sexual authoritarianism, its paternalism, its racial collectivism, its anti-free trade and anti- globalism, and its opposition to the free movement of goods, capital and labour - the Libertarian Alliance opposes both HSBC's and Barclay's decision, and the growing demands for the expulsion of BNP members from the civil service, the police, teaching or other professions.

"What can be done to the BNP can be done to any group. As the great Jewish libertarian philosopher Ayn Rand said: 'In the transition to statism, every infringement of human rights has begun with the suppression of a given right's least attractive practitioners. In this case, the disgusting nature of [those concerned] makes it a good test of one's loyalty to a principle'."
BNP Case Treads a Fine Line

What Now for the BNP?

2. The Enemy Within - Outfacing the Militants
Then there is the little case of the face. If you would like to publish a picture of Muhammed wearing a fizzing bomb for a turban militant Muhammedans would like blow you up.

At the very moment, perhaps, when Nick Griffin and Cockroach were celebrating the fact that an English jury is still, even today, unwilling to convict a fellow for expressing opinions or coining turns of phrase considered by some, or even by many, or even by the vast majority, to be odious and offensive, there were cloaked and bearded shepherds in our land inciting their flocks to march with placards calling for holocaust, beheadings, slayings and various forms of death in general to be administered with extreme prejudice against anybody who would publish such cartoons. Their freedom to do this was protected by a cordon of policemen, all I suppose turning a blind eye to the various incitements to kill, slay, and behead.

I understand that a policeman at the scene was diligent in his prosecution of a driver who had illegally parked his car.
"Well, Police Constable, I understand that I am infringing the letter of the law over here by parking my racialist opinions on this restricted area. I did not know it was a one-way street. But, I say old chap, what about those gentlemen that are being protected by your colleagues over there? Are we free to take our vile opinions out for a spin around the streets like that barbarous mob of worthy orientals, my good Sir, or not?

The CPS should either drop its case against Griffin and Cockroach or collar this lot as well.

The Press Should Be Free To Ridicule Islam

Face of Muhammed - Drawings of Muhammed

Gentle John Simpson of the BBC writes that:

Cartoon Anger is a Misrepresentation

Good old Wikipedia has an excellent page on the whole story here:

Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy

Finally, a Wikipage on Toleration. Toleration, correctly speaking, is an aspect of the virtue of Prudence, fitting in times of peace but overruled by stern Necessity in times of war. Because Tolerance is a prudential consideration it involves calculating the balance of good to be gained by permitting or not permitting an obnoxious practice (such as inciting others to kill, behead, slay those who exercise freedom of expression without inciting others to kill, behead, slay). For more on Prudence, read Cicero.

By now our little game had ended in farce. Old Ardle had not commited his white stones for over half an hour - he had, as it were, gone into self-imposed exile on Saddo Island for his disgraceful performance on the battlefield, which he, like the Corsican Tyrant, licked and legging it from Waterloo, blamed entirely on the precipitous charge of the cavalry.

We began a new game, which looks more promising, and we concluded that it is a Mad World My Masters and that it would be a much better place if there were more people like us in it, and perhaps like H. G. Wells too, who could be a bit of a bore at times but who wrote that book "Little Wars"; chaps you can depend upon not to muddy the waters, or poke their noses into whatever is none of their business, and we are quite amenable too to good eggs of all shades from insipid Lightfootian pinko-grey to darker-than-a-dark-horse dark; Desmond Tutu in a tutu too, and golden people of all sorts of opinions as Macbeth said; we'll able 'em all, but I pray, be not frantic or zealous overmuch, no, no zealots thank you, no, nor door knockers neither, and no gainsayers, but good chaps, quite happy to sit in their saddles all afternoon and resolve their facile conflicts over a game and some liquid refreshment and not mind if they don't go out and air their imbecile hatreds on the street; chaps like Pascal who said with a pleonastic flourish
I have discovered that all human evil comes from this, man's being unable to sit still in a room.

David Hurley
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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Friday 3rd February: Bogstop Lapse - No. 2.

Four long and eventful years have passed since our friend Allan had his fatal motorbike accident. As the anniversary fell on a Friday the obvious thing to do was to meet in the ramen shop Bizenya for dinner and then head over to the mahjong parlour for the rest of the evening - just as we used to do when Allan was around. He used to come crashing into Bizenya every Friday evening with his motorcycle helmet over his arm, pushing back his (dyed) hair and saying

"Lordy lordy..."

But the funny thing was that although four out of the five of us who gathered there remember him well, the conversation did not touch upon his memory until much later in the eveni
ng. It was pretty much all football: the sacking of Souness (Newcastle should never have sacked Bobby Robson... Blackburn were looking to give Souness the boot when Newcastle made enquiries...); Sol Campbell's woes; Wenger's origins in the downtown suburbs of Paris; Arsenal v Milan should yield several goals; Man Utd... Chelsea... Bates... Leeds... Reading... How various fellows did or did not get sent off... How Morinio got expelled from the dug out when Chelsea equalized against Liverpool in Cardiff... How DEH look more secure in the Hiroshima City League "B" Division because the teams below us lost... How The Poor Little Cypriot done good in goal last season but how the ball done better.

Tim rushed off to have dinner with a lot of college girls while Jaime, Kenyon and I went along
to Kodama to play mahjong and Don came along for the beer and chat. We were please to see the site of a rather dapper looking Ray sat at the table when we arrived. Noda also put in an appearance, straight from a business trip to Tokyo, but he was knackered so he went home shortly thereafter.

Earlier in the week Noda sent me this reply to my e-mail about Allan:

Yes if Allan was alive he must have been playing MJ with us.
We lost a good friend, indeed.

I also received an e-mail from Allan's friend in Canada, David Scanlon who wrote:

I was surfing the net and for some unknown reason I Googled my own name and happened upon this link. It is quite nice to see. I still miss that guy.

And when I told him that 10 months later I had a daughter he replied:
It is an easy comparison between a three year old and Al. :-)

I'll raise a glass to Allan tonight.

While at Kodama I also received a message from Mrs H with a photo of our Little Devil enjoying the Setsubun (bean throwing) ceremony.

With four of us in the game and with Don and Noda looking on and chatting away and another group of regulars playing on the next table over in the corner, it made for a very lively atmosphere, especially once the beers were flowing.

We had caught Ray just tucking into his dinner (the trusty yakimeshi/soup set that has received fulsome praises on several occasions in the annals of the Cockseye Mahjong Club). This put Ray at a bit of an initial disadvantage and his first attempts at building a hand while dispatching his dinner led to a series of losses, not of his dinner but of his loot. There was also a potential Chombo when Ray went Riichi. Jaime also went Riichi and completed his hand. We had just been asking Don what would persuade him to start playing again and he was ruminating on how he seemed to have how to play and was frowning away at Ray's hand and said he couldn't see what Ray was waiting for. Ray confidently began to tell him that he was waiting for this and that of Coins when Don asked him about the missing 3-Bamboo. It turned out that Ray, in going Riichi, had inadvertently discarded the wrong tile and undone himself. However, as the faux pas was only noticed after Jaime had gone out there was no Chombo fine to be paid and so officially Ray has not yet commited a Chombo this year...

Meanwhile, opposite Ray, Kenyon, who came into the game as the current bottom player of the year, was looking for a win to move him up the table, or at least to lift him above Eri as it were. And the first game appeared to be taking him in that direction and appeared also to be sending Jaime into the red... David finished second on +8 and was quite pleased with himself considering how much he had been engaged in conversation and how little he had been paying attention... at one stage David found himself with what would have been an easy hand to complete, had it not had too few tiles in it...

It was quite an evening for Chombo. About 9 or 10 years ago Old Ardle and The Poor Little Cypriot had gone on a Christmas holiday to Hong Kong and Macau. Speaking to Jaime, old Ardle had alluded to a certain episode that occurred on that holiday, but had not revealed the nature of that "certain episode" beyond a few dark allusions (illusions, I should say) as to its doubtful nature. It must have been a cunning ploy on Jaime's part to slip a reference to Hong Kong into the conversation because David found himself in mid anecdote while attempting to play a hand with his head screwed round talking to Don.

"What actually happened was... blah blah..." (takes a tile) "and then we were walking down a back street after having looked around an old fort... blah blah..." (takes another tile) "and we came to this old back street tea shop and I says lets have a cup of tea... - who's turn is it?"

Kenyon: "It's your turn..."

Why is Kenyon laughing and holding his head in his hands? Why have I got 15 tiles?


"So anyway, he takes one look at the joint and gives it one of his knobby old askanceways looks and says 'I'm not going in there.' I head in anyway, expecting him to follow, but he legs it down the hill and nor hide nor hair of him is to be seen. What he was running from we shall never know. There were a few locals in the joint but nothing remotely threatening. I sat at a table by the window, had a cup of Chinese tea, looked through my guide book and then strolled down the hill into town.

"I came across a very pleasant bar. Ah, time for a cleansing beer, I said to myself and in I went. Nice barmaid. Nice enough for a second beer. Then this large English bloke who was probably in his late forties came in and the first thing you noticed about him was the groin - er, goitre - on the side of his neck... He joined me at the bar bought a beer and told me that he had just got divorced. I said:

'Congratulations, Old Chap, let us celebrate your return to the pleasures of the bachelor life with a cleansing glass of nappy ale!'

"He took that rather well, cursed his ex-wife with some most impressive imprecations, and off we went on a fine carousal through several rounds of drinks and mutual congratulations..."

By now I had become the Oya. Meanwhile, Don, who had heard the tale from Old Ardle's side of the fence, was revelling in the contrast between his account, and this True And Certain Account of Events as they were now laid before him by An Eyewitness.

"It was now evening and so we decided to go out for dinner but I said that we ought to go and link up with my friend back at our hotel... blah blah..." (takes a tile) "but when I opened the door of our room we were greeted by darkness..." (takes another tile) "and Old Ardle had... - hang on a minute... 15 tiles again!"


I had paid 6,000 points out for the first Chombo, and now had to pay another 8,000 points out for this one.

"Old Ardle was in bed. In the space of a few hours from the time when he legged it like a frightened rabbit down the hill behind the old fort until I arrived back at our hotel room with my new found chum, Old Ardle had contracted one of his infamous travel sicknesses. Now, we had booked a double room with two single beds at the Lisboa Hotel in Macau, but the beds had been pushed together prior to our arrival. So the first thing Old Ardle had done was to push his bed into the middle of the room, where I nearly tripped arse over head over it as I entered. I turned on the light and there was a pathetic figure of misery curled up under the blankets with a thick head all lurgyfied. His rheumy eyes peered over the counterpain and the first thing they fell upon was ...


"At which point Old Ardle shrank beneath the covers, whimpered a little, and was not seen again for the rest of that evening.

"So off The Goitre and I went to mingle with the nightlife of Macau. We had dinner in a little Indian restaurant and The Goitre managed to insult the wife of some middle class sort of fellow sitting at the adjacent table. I can't remember how it came about but once again I was quite impressed by the forthrightness of my companion.

"We then decided that the best thing would be to go and cap the evening with a beer or two and happened to be passing a brothel. Brothels serve beer among other stuff don't they? In we went and a sprucely dressed native graciously guided us towards a floor-to ceiling window behind which sat about four rows of gaudily clad and clearly numbered beauties of whom he seemed inordinately proud.

"'Er, very nice old chap but would it not be possible to simply have a beer?'

"No, unfortunately it would not be possible; a drink must be served with a sidedish and a sidedish must be served with a drink.

"And that was pretty much the end of a beautiful relationship. I think I spent the rest of the evening in the casino seeing how long it would take me to lose my cash."

I am not really very keen on casinos and have not been to one since. I much prefer the sociability of a game like mahjong...

Meanwhile, Old Ardle has never forgotten the goitre and the mere mention of it elicits one of his finest of askance-looking looks of horror.

But I digress.

As I got up to head to the bog I asked Don to look after my tiles for me. It looked as if I was going for a "Toi toi" hand, but as I had got a set of Dragons by going Pon there was scope to change the hand around. I strolled back into the parlour to find that Don had taken a tile but had thought better of throwing it or any other. I glanced at Ray's discard pile, saw a 2-Coins and so chucked out my red 5-Coins

goes Ray. Ray is Oya. Chinitsu, several Dora... I have to pay 26,000 points after a second bogstop lapse of concentration in a week...

All things considered, The Poor Little Cypriot could have ended up poorer but he finished bottom on -37 while Jaime recovered to finish the game top and Kenyon and Ray also changed directions but only within single figures.

Don headed off to watch the Aston Villa v Chelsea game which was being repeated on satellite tv tonight. (Nobody spilled the beans in front of Don but it was a 1-1 draw, with Aston Villa nicking the draw in the closing minutes of the game - not that that will affect Chelsea's progress.)

Now, Ray had been predicting that once he had put away his yakimeshi his game would turn around, in short, the famous Ray Revival would kick in. And it must be admitted that that is what happened so that by the end of the third game, after which Ray went home, the scores stood thus:

Kenyon +56
Ray +33
Jaime -32
David -57

The three of us who remained then played four fairly quick games. We were now the only players left in the parlour. David continued to drink and sink, until he decided that it would be better to order a coffee, after which he staged an end game revival!

Kenyon had the misfortune in the first of these four games to go Riichi and then give away Daisangen to David, which brought David up to +1 on that game and sank Kenyon. Kenyon also lost the final game and his losses in the latter part of the evening wiped out his winnings in the earlier part.

Jaime was the chief beneficiary of the latter part of the night. He came top in three games in a row, and only lost a tiddly amount to David, the only winner (at last) in the final game. That performance was enough to put Jaime top again, and to sink David.

The results for the evening were:

Jaime -35, +32, -29, +37, +22, +31, -5 = +53
Ray -19, +9, +43 = +33
Kenyon +46, -4, +14, -38, +2, +5, -30 = -5
David +8, -37, -28, +1, -24, -36, +35 = -81

It was only in the last part of the evening that the Old Guard began to reminisce about the mahjong sessions that used to take place at Allan's flat, of Don's famous mid-game walk-out, of Tim's encounter with a yellow bath duck at the same time as the PLC's arm disappeared up Cat Girl's trouser leg, of the extrusion of Jaime's portable properties from the balcony of his flat (formerly Allan's) and of how his alarm clock landed in the park outside the flat and rang at the appointed time every morning thereafter at until the batteries died.

We left the jansou at about 2:30am of possibly the coldest night so far this year. I had arranged to meet Tim but thought better of it - after all, staying out drinking until 10am would cost more than catching a taxi home (3,000 yen) and getting a relatively early night by getting to bed at 4am...

David Hurley
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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Bogstop Lapse - No. 1.

I met old Ardle for lunch on Monday.

We went to one of the Italian joints on Namiki Dori where, in Ardle's own words, he is "known". Known for what may be another matter. He spent most of lunchtime chatting up the waitress who used to be one of his - but I ought to leave that side of things to him over at his not recently updated

Somehow his chatting up of the waitress convinced the Italian chef that he was a practioner of the Greek vice, but, as I say, I ought to say no more. Virgo fundum bellum habet sed aliquid absens est in caput virgae.

That was a pretty epanalepsis though perhaps a nice anadiplosis might be more pertinent. Fundum bellum habet virgo, virgae aliquid absens est in caput.

Old Ardle ordered straight off the menu while the Poor Little Cypriot made do with the set course of the day. Mind you, when Old Ardle saw several dishes being served up on my side of the table and when he learnt that coffee was thrown in he turned his natural colour, which is to say green about the gills. He had the front to ask the maiden if she couldn't have one thrown up his way too. We thought he had scored a maiden, but at the end of the meal it turned out that he was served coffee, cake and ice-cream in equal portion to mine. Mind you, while I thought it meet to tuck into the portion that was available Old Ardle continued his sally in her direction while his ice-cream melted and his coffee turned cold.

We retired to the BF Cafe and spent the rest of the afternoon locked into a game of GO. We began at 3pm and play continued until about 6:30. Utterly exhausting.

Old Ardle gradually reverted back to his former snail's pace but it didn't matter particularly. Gradually a large section of his forces appeared to be on the verge of being annihilated when the PLC whipped off to the gents. He returned to his seat and Old Ardle lethargically extended his line. The PLC immediately laid his tile alongside thinking he was keeping up the pressure which would lead to inevitable encirclement. However, the break had broken his concentration and he had neglected to secure a vital group of stones. Old Ardle perked up as he couldn't believe his luck, and took the stones and relieved his flank.

Photo: "X" marks the spot where Ardle added his black tile. The dot to the south shows where I played. The dot to the NE shows where I SHOULD have played!

Now the remarkable thing about all that is that it was now the PLC who was on the defensive and having to shore up a front that looked about as secure as the Oder Front in April 1945.

But, remarkably, the great offensive did not materialize. An enemy landing took place in one corner, but gradually the PLC somehow managed to re-encircle Old Ardle's main force. The result was a game in which numerous stones were removed by both parties but in the end victory went to the PLC by a margin of about 20 points, which is the narrowest yet. But it is still victory so I shall take it, thank you very much.

David Hurley
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