Around fourth year High School was the time that we (Hammo, Bucko, Dunny, Neil and myself) started our regular Saturday night card games. Along with other colourful, but not regularly in attendance, Elizabeth High characters such as Boris and Jim, the nights were spent attempting to relieve each other of our assorted cupro-nickel collections. A win or loss of $2 a night either way was the extent of our individual gloom or gloating.
I can’t remember all of the games we played, but In Betweens, Blind Man’s Bluff, Pontoon and several variations on Poker were rotated throughout the night, which started at 8-ish and ended early enough for us to walk home safely. We took it in turns to host these evenings, with parents given the task of providing us with late night sustenance, which involved pastry, meat, tomato sauce and butchers’ sweepings extruded into thick bright orange casings.
Occasionally we’d try to stay up all night, but not very often.
I think that the rigours of Matric slowed us down somewhat, but it was enormous fun while it lasted.
When I hit the big time as a Graduate Project Officer at the Highways Department, card nights flourished once more. This time it was on a Friday night, and something stronger than Woodies Sno-Top was usually at hand as the shrewd bean-counters of Walkerville 5081, became the Cool Hand Lukes of whichever northeastern Adelaide suburb we were in that night.
The cast had names like Bob, Eric, Rob, Gaz, John, George, Brenton, Glen and Boardsy. The stakes were higher, the games less childish, the tempers more rampant and the magazines in the wardrobes of the single blokes a bit bluer than in my innocent High School days.
We played probably once a month and I think it went on for a couple of years or more. After I left Highways for the loftier climes of the Public Service Board’s Management Accountants Development (that’s right MAD) Scheme and then ETSA, my attendance was less frequent.
The signs that many of us had drifted apart further than we had realised came into stark relief, when, being the host for one of these gatherings, my choice of The Smiths as background music was met with abject derision from my Crowded House loving colleagues. We had moved on, and a night at home with a video and pizza with our chosen life partners replaced a night of farts, burps, pickled onions, kabana, blue jokes and arguments about money (hmm…)
One of the netball dads invited me to one or two of his card nights twenty or so years (and a move to Melbourne) later, but I no longer felt comfortable enough to take up the generous offers.
Card nights – The Ace of Spades or Living In The Past?