The Background

Three Christmases ago, I was sat in my partner’s parent’s kitchen with his dad. It had been a long day. I had cooked dinner for my dad (his house was over the back from theirs), struggled to use the one hob on his 40 year old cooker to make all the required festive delicacies, eaten with him, pulled a cracker each, avoided The Queen’s Speech, drunk 2 bottles of wine together and watched as he drifted off to Only Fools and Horses reruns. As he finally dozed off, I had made my excuses and left to pop round the corner. It was a familiar routine that I had been repeating for 20 years. You see, I’m an only child and Christmas is only really ever fun when you spend it with other people.

As a teenager, around the corner had been a big family and every Christmas I would find myself sat around their dining room table, surrounded by uncles and grandparents, playing cards and being fed more Christmas food then you could imagine. The house round the corner was a generous and glowing one, which I was always welcomed in to. The only thing that I never felt good about were the card games. Now, I’ll freely admit, I am an ace at Solitaire, absolutely fantastic, but anything that requires other players is the end of me.

Flash forward to three Christmases ago and the conversation in the kitchen had moved on to poker. I’d heard it mentioned that my partner’s dad was a good poker player, known as The Fisherman, but I’d stupidly never really put two and two together. “Oh yes” I said “I’ve played poker before.” It wasn’t a lie, I had, once at a New Year’s Eve party and had lost all of the pennies in my pot. “Well” he said “Let’s play”. I remember the thought that I only had £50 on me flashing through my head at about the point that I was £50,000 down. “Ummmm….goodness….I seem to be losing”, there was a slight twinkle in his eye, “Yes….you have.” I bowed my head in mock shame and vowed never to play cards again.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten about the annual game of “Chase the Ace”. A game, that after 20 years, I still don’t understand. There are aces and a queen and one or the other gets passed around the table. I always lose. But, with that loss I get to sit back and watch the family. They all have that twinkle in their eyes when they play cards, from Gran all the way down to great-grand children. Whatever they are playing, you can see the mischief and the laughter in their faces. It’s a warming and rather moving sight to behold and something that has made me believe that a family that plays together, may stay together.

In light of all of this, I have made the life changing decision to become good at cards. There is a man in America who has given up his job to become a professional golfer stating that it will take him 10,000 hours of play and practice to achieve his goal, The Dan Plan. Now, I can’t give up work or start crowd funding in order to beat my partner’s dad at cards, but I can utilise any opportunities that are thrown my way and will happily accept any assistance that is offered.

I have just 8 weeks!

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