I headed into town on the tram this afternoon with my head stuck in a book I received for Christmas, The Retreat of Reason, by Anthony Browne, published by Civitas. It is a critique of “political correctness and the corruption of public debate in modern Britain” and on its cover there is a reproduction of Goya’s El Sueno de la Razon Produce Monstruos.
I was struck by how the fellow looked as if he was slumped at a mahjong table at the end of a particularly harrowing all night session. The poor fellow languishes there tormented by the monstrous products of his sleeping reason which have come back to haunt him in a variety of bat and cat-like forms, all bearing the mocking likenesses of the ghastly visages of his various opponents…
Is not that creature that spreads its wings upon high a bat-eared version of Noda, exalting himself in the height of his nocturnal glory? Does not that self-satisfied looking cat lounging behind him and looking on with indifference bear a prowling Tomcat-like resemblance to the Human Computer, sitting pretty in second place – the only gaijin cat to get his paws in the cream? Is not that dark one gaining ascendency from behind none other than Jaime? Flying in the lower middle regions over on the left comes Ray, while Tim sits to the Sleeper’s right and chats away while waving a chicken wing at him. There, hovering over the slumped figure is this year’s new-comer, Hide, a sort of pale version of Noda, his spreads his lesser wings over the sleeper.
The version of the etching that is in the Prado offers this salutary advice to the mahjong player:
La fantasia abandonada de la razon, produce monstruos imposibles: unida con ella, es madre de las artes y origen de sus marabillas.
Ah yes, how often is the mahjong player – er, or rather, how often am I when playing mahjong – busy concocting fantastic monstrosities devoid of reason… And yet, on a good day, Imagination and Reason work together to fashion the mother of all arts, one mahjong marvel after another!
Anyway, Jaime, Kenyon and I had told the Mama-san at Koyo Jansou that we’d probably play there this week if the parlour was open and she’d told us it would be, so that is where we spent ten hours of the last Friday night and Saturday morning of 2006. A very enjoyable time we had too, whether winning or losing.
The exertions of the holidays showed, however, as there have never been so many Chombo in one session and nor has there ever been such a hamfisted session in all the hamfisted sessions that we have played. Tiles were constantly slipping from fingers and crashing into mahjong walls. On numerous occasions people took tiles from the wrong part of the wall and that was how the most memorable Chombo of the evening was committed as Kenyon, who had declared Riichi, passed over the wall of tiles in front of his nose to take a tile from the end of Jaime’s wall. He instantly revealed it and declared
only for both Jaime and David to cry
Kenyon owned up to another Chombo and committed a third, the details of which I now forget. Jaime added to the Chombo tally by going out on a 7-Bamboo that Kenyon, playing safely, discarded – the 7-Bamboo happened to be in Jaime’s discard pile.
Meanwhile, The Poor Little Cypriot reverted to his old foible of losing a tile and having to play out a couple of hands with only twelve tiles. He got away with one hand not being noticed – Kenyon did express puzzlement at the discards, however, but the PLC kept stumm.
As this was the last game of the year it was unlikely to alter much at the top of the table but there was a chance that a win by David and loss by Jaime could change the order at the bottom. However, Jaime’s early lead, although largely at the expense of Kenyon, put paid to that option. Even though by the end of the evening Jaime had shed most of that early lead, the points had gone back to Kenyon and David was equally generous, ending the year with yet another big loss of over 100 points…
We were the only customers all night – or at least from 6:30pm until 3:30am. The Mama-san was friendly throughout. It turns out that she and her hubby live above the jansou. The Jansou is on the first floor (Japanese and American second floor) and they live above the parlour, a very convenient arrangement for them and they took advantage of it to disappear upstairs for long periods of the evening. When she was at the counter, Mama-san spent much of the time chuckling away at the figure skating oblivious to the cries of a thirsty table for more beer! Apart from the squid, most of the snacks she served were suitable for Johnny Foreigner – peanuts, chocolates and sweets, cheese and so forth. All in all it is a very pleasant environment in which to play.
By the last hand, however, David’s evening long hopes of recovery, which appeared more and more like Adolf’s hopes of a change of fortune on the Russian Front after Stalingrad, had evaporated. Just one positive hand at the end would keep his 10th game in the black… It was a Ryanshi hand with Jaime as Oya. Kenyon was going for Coins and David had to discard a 2-Coins in order to go Riichi for his second Yaku – it was obviously dangerous but the hope was that either he would get away with it and go out and so finish the last game in the black, or Kenyon would go Ron and at least the game would end… please either one of those scenarios just get me into a taxi and on my way to my bed…
Inevitably, it was the latter of the two options. Kenyon claimed David’s tile and David was left feeling tired and frustrated and haunted by his monstrous sleep of reason…
Kenyon -70, +53,* -17, +28,* +29, -2, +67, -17,* +34, -15, +26, -13 = +120
Jaime +75, +9, -17,* -37, +19, -61, +32, -21, -19, -15, +37 = +2
David -5, -62, -11, +8, -17, -6, -15, -13, +34, -11, -24 = -122
The final results for the year and the “Prizes” are as follows:
Noda +835 – 2006 Cockseye Club Three-Player Mahjong Champion
Kenyon +464 – Best Johnny Foreigner
Hide +197 – Best Newcomer, Best Batting Average
Tim -105 – Worst Batting Average
Ray -106 – Best Paddy
Eri -242 – Best Lady
Jaime -397 – Best Recovering Player
David -646 – Best Loser, Worst Johnny Foreigner, Worst (1/8th) Paddy
As Kenyon protested that he ought to get a prize as well as Noda the Central Committee decided that it would be unfair to discriminate and so ALL players have been awarded prizes as listed above. However, ONLY NODA’S will be AWARDED at the NEW YEAR COCKSEYE CLUB DINNER which will take place at a location to be announced shortly, as soon as Noda confirms his safe return from the golf courses of New Zealand…
In the meantime, the year’s BATTING AVERAGE has been calculated (to one decimal place, without rounding up or down) by dividing the number of points scored by the number of games each player has played and the results are quite interesting, at least for David, as it gets his arse off the bottom:
It is worth noting that the actual difference in form between the regular players is quite small – but just as with genetic difference between man and the higher beasts – that SMALL difference is ALL…
Happy New Year!