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Today's quote:

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Check with your mate!

 

Brian just phoned to say he'll come up from the Bay again to play chess with me. Over the months, this has become something of a routine and so, once a week, we sit by the river, hunched over the chessboard, and make our moves.

Often our lips move more than the pieces on the board and I am reminded of my time at the Al-Harithy Hotel in Jeddah where I lived for a couple of years while working in the world's largest sandbox.

Our group of lonely expats would sit around the pool during the long midday break and, while sheltering from the sandblastingly hot winds coming out of the desert and sipping Saudi champagne, play chess.

Saudi Arabia was a lonely place and it didn't take much to tip one over the edge as everything that made life bearable was lacking - or, as some wit put it crudely, the four Ps: Piss, Pork, Porn, and Prostitutes.

And so it could happen that late at night there was a knock on the door and the chap with whom you had played chess at midday feebly asked, "Feel like a game of chess?"

Feel like a game of chess??? At a quarter to midnight??? You've got to be kidding!!!

But you didn't say that. Instead, you invited him in, put on the kettle, set up the board, and played chess at a quarter to midnight.

You did so because you knew that it might be your turn next. That you might receive a 'Dear John' letter or other bad news from home. And that you might be in desperate need of companionship before the four walls of your hotel room, however five-star, closed in on you.

Your visitor would lose the game but win the day by getting through it.