I had slept very badly and woken up at 3.30am, probably due to the excitement of knowing I was going to be playing snooker at the Reading Hexagon tonight. If I had told the kids at my school that this would happen they would have laughed in my face. But no one is laughing now. The atmosphere in the theatre as it happened was revered awe or something like that. People certainly couldn’t believe what they were seeing. But it was happening.
It had been a bit of a palaver getting the old snooker board delivered to the theatre. A last minute suggested address on groupon meant that the package went to a local business and not the theatre. Also it turned out to be not quite the board I had ordered and also somehow much smaller than I’d imagined. Like it had been made for a child, rather than a serious, semi-professional self-playing snookerist. Incredibly there were 15 reds on this tiny table, but as tempted as I was to go for the 147, I knew there wasn’t time, so I reduced it to the regulation 10. And the balls were really dinky and small which added a new bit of unfamiliarity.
It was very strange doing the snooker directly after the stand up. I was weary and not particularly eloquent and as always when I do this live, acutely embarrassed about how awful it is and how bad I am at snooker(but that’s the point).
Incredibly 500 people (exactly) had come to see the show, so for once my insistence that I got into a bigger venue was justified (though the massive theatre was less than half full, but it still felt packed). I wondered if the snooker had made the difference, but an amusingly small number of people had stayed to watch when I emerged after a quick wee break. Most of them couldn’t see what was going on on the old green board anyway, as it was up above them, but again this was apt. People up on the balcony could see what was going on, and seemed to have more fun for some reason. One of them pointed that I was playing without a pink ball on the table towards the end. So controversy rocked the tournament. I also caught the fly of my jeans on one of the knobs on the side of the tiny snooker board and nearly lost the tackle or the jeans of one of the players. I nearly lost two pinks.
I am very tempted to do a tour that is just snooker, rather than making it a side show. And as fun as it was to be doing all this in this hallowed hall, following on from 45 minutes of intense stand up left me slightly struggling with the improv required. But unexpectedly (though should have been predictably) having no break between the sets (plus the lack of sleep) made me feel a little bit woozy and odd in the second half. The interval might not seem like a lot of time to recuperate and usually passes super-fast, but it’s an important recharge. Was I going to die on stage? (spoiler alert - no) and if I was, could there be a more apposite time, after what I’d just done, in such of one of my largest ever crowds?
We took the snooker board home in the car. I now have two snooker boards in my house. Again not only would the teenage me be thinking I must have become king of the world to have such excessive luxury, but my friends would never have believed I could have achieved this. Steve Cheeke was the pupil voted most likely to one day own two snooker boards, after all.
We may do another frame during the interval at the St Albans gig on May 12th. And who knows how many more times I will play snooker in front of a crowd? I just want to prove my wife wrong and show her that I CAN make a living this way. What kind of a monster wouldn’t want to help me make that dream come true?