Thursday 13th September: One Man Show!

Tonight’s mahjong session at the Docs’ turned into a one-man show in the second and third games as Dr M Sr went on a winning spree mostly at the expense of Mrs M. The Junior Doc and myself were ducking and weaving on the ropes and only suffered minor defeat on points, but Mrs M hit the canvas under a succession of mighty blows and was out for the count.

The game started off more sedately, with the Oya moving swiftly from player to player until David made a stand and reached Ryanshi – i.e. the Oya either wins or finishes Tempai in four consecutive hands and in the fifth you need two Yaku to complete a hand. In the three-player game Ryanshi usually kicks in in the fourth game and occurs much more often than in the four-player games at the Docs’. In fact, tonight’s Ryanshi may have been the first in all of the sessions we have played. Anyway, it enabled David to get enough points and “maru bonuses” onto the score chart to subsidize much of the rest of his evening. As he gave ground to the mighty Senior Doc, so he advanced in his progress through the contents of the beer fridge.

The Junior Doc also turned to the beer, in search of inspiration rather than consolation. Then, the Senior Doc joined in the beer drinking at the end of the evening to celebrate a record-breaking victory. Both the Junior Doc and I felt we had got off rather lightly.

The Doc’s Homework

While at the Docs’ I handed the Junior Doc a “children’s book” for him to read for homework; Peter Connolly’s Holy Land, which brings to life the people and events of the Holy Land in the time of King Herod.

The Doc seemed to think I was attempting to prosyletize him – the title of the book made him nervous – but much of the book deals with the history of Herod’s rule in Palestine as a client king of the Roman empire, and the turbulent historical events that culminate in the fall of Masada in 73 AD. The story is compellingly told and augmented with a series of fascinating illustrations of the famous sites of Herod’s reign as well as maps, photographs and a diagram of the herodian family’s complex marriage alliances.

The book is aimed at the children’s market, but is a great read for adults, especially for students of the Roman Empire! In our “History in English” classes the Doc and I are currently wading our way through the first volume of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which is a challenging read at times, but laced with dry humour. Peter Connolly’s Holy Land is set in the period immediately before the events that Gibbon describes and presents the complexities that a local king had to deal with in attempting to impose his authority on an intractible people in the name of the Empire.

David Hurley