Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Prawn Crackers

Hello all. It’s been a while since I was in a position to write anything owing to our continued need to ration the amount of petrol we put in the generator. We huddle together in the evenings to fend against the bats that have taken roost in the barn. On more than one occasion I have awoken as the flying menaces swoop down to snatch at one of our other resident populations – moths. They are attracted by our single lightbulb hanging from a hat stand that Ravel scavenged from a car boot sale a week ago. Yes, dear reader, the credit crunch has hit the McCrumble household very hard indeed. All income streams have dried up and we are now living more frugally than I ever imagined to be possible. This blog entry is only appearing because I didn’t wish anyone to think we had actually given up completely. I’m also not doing it to ask for charity. The McCrumble spirit will prevail!

So, anyway, I must finish Ravel’s tale of his time in China. At the end of the last post he was about to face the music, so to speak, at the card table. Men in suits and sunglasses approached the table as he offered to call on the tenth hand of the evening. The presumed Mr Foo wanted to keep raising but Ravel’s confidence had abandoned him after losing the previous nine rounds of 5 card stud. The pot of money given to him by the lawyers was rapidly diminishing, and by Ravel’s reckoning wouldn’t last another 2 or 3 hands. Ravel desperately wanted to switch the game over to Texas Hold’em, but his knowledge of Mandarin was somewhat limited even by tourist standards (he could just about pronounce ‘Beer’ after being in the country several weeks. Trying to signal his wishes using the charade of pretending to be wearing a ten gallon hat whilst cuddling himself didn’t work either.)

His hesitancy was beginning to annoy the assembled crowd of men in suits. They appeared to be urging him onwards more aggressively with each hand, moving closer to the table as failure piled up and his stash of yen all but disappeared. The tenth hand fell as all previous hands had fallen and now the suits were just two feet behind him. There seemed to be twice as many now, all wearing the same suit, sporting the same sunglasses, the same shoulder-length hairstyle. Even with his army training, Ravel knew he would have trouble fighting his way out of his predicament. There seemed to be no option but to play until the money was gone and then try to leave quietly.

Such might have been Ravel’s idea, but he couldn’t tell anyone, and I doubt they would have listened. For this was no ordinary game of poker, and no ordinary crowd of gangsters. Sometimes, the truth of a matter is beyond the comprehension of those involved, hidden behind dark suits, sunglasses, aggressive movements. A distraction perhaps, something to ensure that one of the players takes his eyes off his cards. Such deviousness was happening right there in that warehouse. But not, dear reader, for the reason you might be thinking. I’m just about to shut the generator down so I can’t write what happened next just yet. I promise, though, to beg borrow or steal some petrol so that I can finally reveal the astonishing ending to Ravel’s adventure in China.

******** TO BE CONTINUED!! **********