This week Guido and I reached another terrifying mid-month point in our lives. It’s the time when we both lay awake in bed at night trying to plot the downfall of our poker winning friends, Ted and Gary. Just kidding, we love you guys really.
“Bring a bottle of something fruity. And make sure it’s REALLY expensive,” said Guido. “In fact, bring three bottles.” He put down the telephone with a big clunk.
“There’s no shame,” I yelled. “What’s the point of being friends with a millionaire banker if he can’t spare some Chateaux Margaux 2009 to wash down some of our cheap and nasty olives.” I mean really. The number of times we’ve lost playing cards is catastrophic. “If they’re taking us down I want some expensive anaesthetic to dull the agony.”
I swear I could hear Ted and Gary cracking their knuckles and the distinctive rat tat tat of cards being shuffled from half way down Southwark Street. Installed in a café booth they wasted no time whatsoever in shifting cash from our side of the table to theirs. Here in Bermondsey it’s what you’d enthusiastically call a fun night in with friends. Though only if you happened to be rich and complete masochists.
“Guido this bruschetta is amazing. What’s the bread?” purred Ted.
If you’ve read this blog before you’ll remember that Guido and Ted bonded over a spelt loaf at a Peggy Porschen bake class. It changed their lives forever. Most male friends text the football scores, instead they Twitter bread batter recipes.
I looked at the hand of cards Gary had dealt me and I blinked a couple of times. I had a flush and I’m not talking about the sweaty kind. I blinked a couple of more times. I really did have a flush. Stay calm I thought. This is the best hand you’ve had in fifteen years, don’t blow it by being the transparently awful player you usually are.
“Its a rosemary and sea salt sour dough,” said Guido. “See you and raise you.”
“I don’t know if it’s because I’m a flight attendant but I love those hard bread rolls we serve on aircraft,” said Gary. He glanced at his cards and winced. “They’re great if there’s turbulence because you can just lob them at passengers like a slam dunk and nobody cares.”
I stared at my cards again, savouring the moment. I stifled a hysterical laugh.
“And what’s your favourite bread, Ted?” I said innocently. I said this so simperingly it was like black molasses treacle dripping from my vowels. Never before had I pondered the words – revenge is sweet – with such anticipation.
“Granary oat,” Ted said completely deadpan. He took a sip and reshuffled. I think he twitched. “See you and raise you.”
“Well nothing beats a baguette in my book,” I said, “with possibly the exception of a bit of crumpet.” I tapped my cards. I was ready to show. Boy this was better than a hot brioche. “Flush,” I said magnanimously.
Gary threw his cards and so did Guido. My hand moved tantalisingly towards the cash at the centre of the table.
“Full House,” said Ted. He revealed his all with the usual po-faced aplomb.
Of course I’m far too polite to tell you what I screamed, but it sounded a bit like focaccia.