Racking up our balls for the umpteenth time, you can only play pool so many times in one day. The hall were we regularly played was satisfactory, but overused and underdeveloped. The stench of alcohol fused itself with the ‘furniture’, profanity scribbled over the wall, always crowded with the unsavoury types.
“Have you ever played snooker before?” my friend Alby asked me. I was new to pool and only just started playing on a regular basis. Because of my naivety, I thought snooker was just another name for pool. He explained the difference and told us he knew a place where we could play, so we jumped at the opportunity to try something new.
Arriving at the local RSA club, I was sceptical that we would find someplace ‘better’ than the pool hall. Inside was packed, everyone enjoying a beer and retelling stories of the week’s escapades. The pool tables being used and coin operated. I looked towards Alby, questioning his judgement, but he signalled us to come, ushering us into a side room, pushing us into utter darkness.
Suddenly, light. Illumination filled the room and our eyes. Things became clearer as we discovered a contrast to the other side. Emptiness, no one in sight; just the four of us, and four snooker tables in perfect condition. The wooden frame, green felt, 22 balls all glistening in the light, as if they had never been touched. I couldn’t believe that compared to the hustle and bustle of next door, silence, peace and perfection were staring us in the face.
It looked like nobody had been in there for days. Impatience overcame me. I rushed over and picked up the cue, and was pleased that I didn’t need to go through every stick looking for the ‘straightest’ one. I began chalking the tip; blue dust filling the motionless air. We were ready.
Alby ran us through the fundamentals of the game. Snooker isn’t that easy to learn on your own. We played as individuals, as pairs, even used the other tables for practice, never to be disturbed by a living soul, not even once. Silence filled the air only to be broken by the balls hitting against each other, and the prideful taunts when we ‘snookered’ our friend.
I was curious as to why nobody used this place. It was quiet, it was empty and it was free. Alby said that the only reason was nobody knew about it; no one knows what snooker is and no one knows where to play it.
From then on we returned weekly to play snooker, each time finding our surroundings exactly the same as the week before; silence, peace, perfection.
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