Saturday, March 27, 2010

Last night in Ponsonby

“I’m not playing,” I say. “I haven’t done that since I was 12, in Rodney Barnett’s garage.”

“Me either,” says Rebekah.

“I’m in,” says Rob, Director-General of NZBC. He’s always in.

“I’m in,” says Mark of NZBC.

“Me too,” says Laughy Kate, annoyingly. “Come on, Quotey, we need four. Pleeez,” she wheedles.

I reflect that she is letting me stay over in her spare room after a hard day’s meetings, instead of driving home through the night.

“Oh all right then,” I say graciously.

“Are you a bit out of your comfort zone here?” asks Rebekah solicitously.

“No, I have been to a gang headquarters, and also Hamilton,” I say. “It’s just that this is such a clean, well-lighted place. It feels wrong.”

We are in a pool hall on Ponsonby Road after a couple of drinks at the Long Room. There is clean, non-smelly carpet on the floor, nobody is smoking and all the patrons (apart from me, Rob and Mark) are young and attractive. They also still have their teeth, and there is no fighting. The modern pool hall is not like the old-school pool hall.

Play commences. Mark and Kate win. This is because Mark is really quite good.

We have a second game. Mark and Kate win again. This is because Rob sinks the white directly behind the black after I had set us up for a win by potting three in a row. There’s no helping some people.


Phil said...

It's a slippery slope to hanging around milk shake bars and wearing leather jackets ... repent! repent!

Stephen Stratford said...

It's all right, Phil, relax. On Monday I was back in literary mode, in Wellington helping decide the shortlist for the NZ Post book awards. No pool tables were harmed in the course of the meeting.

Dave Hillier said...


I'd like to think these things were decided over a few jugs and frames. It would explain some of the decisions in recent years.

Stephen Stratford said...

Yes Dave, it certainly would explain a few things. Especially the decision in 2008, I think it was, to have only four fiction finalists rather than the five expected. A total slap in the face to each and every one of the other fiction writers.

One of the good things about this year's crop of judges, I think, is that all of us have published at least one book, maybe even two. It really makes a difference because we all know what it's like on the receiving end.