Tuesday, 4 March 2014


There's no doubt about it , the inmates have taken over the asylum. This club's much trumpeted sub-zero tolerance policy has really back-fired big time. It was about five years ago when I first visited this venue , which at that time went under the name Fun Palace BC. It was full of colourful characters ,  weirdos and oddballs , many of which possessed eccentric personalities. What made them fascinating and appealing was their loud , opinionated , boisterous , and argumentative banter , often enhanced by cheeky rudeness , sarcastic quips and mischievous asides. They were always at the center of controversies , scandals , shocking rumours , great stories and amusing incidents. They gave the place a real buzz  , not to mention the excitement in the anticipation that something newsworthy was going to happen. And although some members felt uncomfortable or intimidated by their awesome presence , the majority accepted them in the same way we learn to accept the bumping , pushing ,  hustle ,  bustle , and argy bargy that happens whenever one goes shopping a busy department store. 

However , when I revisited the club ,  appropriately renamed  "Benign "  ,  I was struck dumb. In fact I was shocked to the core , and deepened saddened by the transformation that had taken place.  Table numbers had fallen by half , and the ratio of men to woman had changed dramatically in favour of the fairer sex. Prudish , prim and proper attitudes were clearly in ascendancy. Members moved about as though they were walking on eggshells. Conversations were quiet , polite , superficial , shallow and annoyingly cliched. But worst of all was the lack of atmosphere in the place. Dead was not a word that could fully describe it. Even morgues offered a more lively alternative. Members seemed racked with fear and trepidation . careful not to offend anyone by word or gesture.  Indeed , they had all developed the knack of maintaining a dead pan facial expression plastered with a well manufactured smile. Emotions were held firmly in check. They all wore best behaviour badges on strait jackets of conformity. It was horrible to see.

So can anyone name me a competitive sport where the participants are forced to behave like mice and not men , lambs and not lions ,  bunny rabbits and not wolves , or a bunch of goody-two-shoes and not demons ? I doubt it. Who wants to play in an arena full of pussy-footing, overly sensitive, extremely delicate Mother Teresas . Not me for sure. The purification of the bridge scene here at the Benign BC represents the end of bridge as I once knew it ....and cherished.

What options then am I left with if zero tolerance becomes the future of bridge. Well , thankfully there is a place in little old England where bridge is played in a hot-bed of passion , incident , excitement and intrigue.  A place where men are " real " men , and where woman also know how to mix it. Yes....I'm talking about the Slaughter House  BC , run and owed by Howard Bigot-Johnson.....a modern version of Sir Francis Dashwood's infamous Hell-fire Club......the perfect place for card-loving , sado-masochistic , pleasure seeking hedonists who like to experience life on the edge.


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