Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gambling Lesson

A few years after my fiasco with Galilee in 1966, I was living in Perth and playing pub pool in just about every waking moment. I got hooked when I teamed up with Keith, a workmate who claimed to have been Scottish snooker champion. I can find no evidence of that, but he was an outstanding player. When he was thirsty, he was capable of breaking and clearing the table without giving the other three players a single shot. Once he had his eye in, he enjoyed performing trick shots and entertaining the crowd. In those days in Perth pubs, you always played for the cost of the table and a beer. We drank for free for about a year.

Despite his ability to drink free beer as long as he wanted, Keith had a taste for expensive spirits and for backing losers at the races and those two failings had him almost constantly in debt. We were paid fortnightly and Keith always ran out in about three days. He would borrow from me until the next payday. On payday, I'd collect what he owed me before he had a chance to pay anybody else or to put a bet on any new sure thing. And I was careful never to lend him more than his usual pay packet in any fortnight.

I went to his home once, but his wife clearly held me responsible for his financial failings and threw me out on the spot. And after a while, I started to get itchy feet as I became increasingly aware that I had only put 3,400 km between me and my parents in Melbourne. I moved on to Darwin and I lost touch with Keith. But at least I was by then confirmed in my attitude to betting on horses.

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