They had duelled long into the night, these four fighters. Two teams. Father and son, friend and friend. They hunched, they stood, they stretched, they poked. Each of them hammering out each of the hours through a haze of Guinness, whiskey and still legal indoor smoke.
The father and son played hurriedly, looking for the win even when the win was nowhere to be found. Better players than the friends, more polished, more practised, more poised. But in a rush. Eager to put these Jackeen interlopers to bed so that they too might rest their fuzzy New Year heads. But this eagerness led to a slackness of shot, a closing carelessness. The friends, in contrast, played slowly, carefully, often poorly and yet still pulled definitively ahead. Long, dramatic pauses over simple pots slowly wore down their increasingly frustrated opposition until, with the Dublin team still far ahead, a last game was called.
A tight frame it proves to be, with few errors. The father misses the final black, and fucks his cue across the room. Gav, for he was that friend, regards the position, a straightforward corner pocket drop. James, for he was that son, unzips his trousers. Methodically Gav addresses the ball, lining up the cut. Methodically James removes his tackle from the safety of his pants and places both meat and two veg into the nominated pocket.
This not the first distraction technique of the night, but it is certainly the most bold.
'I'm going to take the shot.'
'So take the fucking shot.'
'I'm going to hit it now.'
'So fucking hit it now.'
Gav hits it, resisting the temptation to transfer every ounce of power that remains in his weakened arm to this final cue action. He strokes the white gently, caressing it toward the pocket. The black bobbles against James' jiggling junk until, with a deft pelvic thrust, he penis-flicks the ball back onto the table.
The result of that final frame is disputed to this day.
This charming tale occurred on the occasion of my last childless visit to the greatest pub in the universe and this year a tradition is reborn.
Time to step up, Jimmy.