English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : January, 1912

The Billiard Monthly : January, 1912

The Billiard Temperament

“It appears to me,” said Minerva on Boxing Day,” as
if only the dumb, the blind, and the deaf, stood any chance
of becoming proficient in billiards, according to some
people. A healthy, reasonable, rational being is nowhere, so
far as I can make out. I call it downright mean!”

“What’s the matter now?” I asked.

“I have been reading that book you gave me as a Christmas
present—especially the passage you marked about the
‘billiard temperament,’ thank you. Even if I did lose my
temper on Christmas Eve there was no occasion to put it
on record. Besides, I had hard luck, and you know it.

That game was mine, not yours, according to all ethical
principles. Oh, you may sit there and smile in that superior
masculine way, but you know you never won the game.

I lost it. And if you want to know, anyone will tell you
the difference between actually winning a game off your
own cue and claiming a game your opponent has lost
through misfortune Well?”

“I made no remark,” I observed.

“No; but you smiled. You always smile that horrid
smile when you think you have won.”

“One may smile, and smile, and not be a villain, my
dear. Let us to billiards. What is this about the dumb
and the deaf and the blind?”

“In this book,” said she, “it says one can never hope to
be a good player unless one can keep cool and unconcerned
in the most trying and aggravating circumstances. Now,
how is one to manage to do that, possessed of an ordinary
human temper?”

“How indeed’ But is it an ordinary human one?”

Minerva ignored the suggestion, and proceeded. “I
don’t think it possible for anyone to control herself if things
are deliberately going against her like they do sometimes on
a billiard table I mean really deliberately, you know, as
they did on Christmas Eve in my case. Just imagine how
that red ball behaved!”

“It did seem to go ‘pricking on the plaine’ in an utterly
irresponsible manner. But you forget it is a new ball—a
comparative youth, in fact—and at his age the hey-dey in
the blood of a red ball is not yet tamed The beggar may
have been out for adventures The skittish way he waltzed
around my ball rather suggests that idea, my dear.”

Minerva sniffed.

“Besides,” I continued, “the aged bosom of your old
plain ball seemed to be repellent to the young fellow from
the moment you rushed her at him. And you did rather
force her attentions on to him, now I come to think of it.”

“Oh, do be quiet’ Put it this way: Here is a person
who in the ordinary walks of life is generally regarded as
a calm, self-possessed, reliable, complacent, individual
You put her”
“Excuse me. Did you say calm, self-possessed, complacent?”

“Yes.”

“And—her?”

“Yes.”

“Better not. The combination is not quite conceivable.”

There was a short pause for a few moments of silent
prayer and contemplation. Then, with all her cue-strength
and driving power,” Very well. HIM!”

“Good Pot!”

“You put HIM into a billiard room, give him a cue—
which, remember, he is generally credited with being able
to handle. I suppose you will admit that I can play?”
“If you will explain what your ability has to do with
this hypothetical gentleman”

“Oh, bother! He plays a good game, usually beating
his husband hands down, so there can be no question of
her—his—ability. I mean mine, not her husband’s ability—
that is, the ability of the gentleman we put in the billiard
room a short time ago. Well, this time she is nearly running
out as usual—as usual—when the silly balls begin to
run all over the place, deliberately ignoring all the rules and
science of the game, and forgetting all she has ever taught
them, and make her lose—her husband (who cannot really
play) winning by the awfullest of flukes, and having the
cheek to claim the game as his. What would you do if
you were she—he, I mean?”

“The husband? Stick to the victory, of course.”

“You know very well I mean me—that is the HIM you
would insist in introducing, and mixing everything up with.
But you are merely evading the question. Be honest. Put
yourself in my place, and never mind about the imaginary
person. Now, what would you do in these circumstances,
if you were naturally as calm and self-possessed as I, and
with as much energy crying out to be let loose upon the
world?”

“Knock the marker down, if it happened in the club.

Pull the marking board up by the roots, or try to upset the
table, probably, if it happened at home.”

“There! Just what I felt like doing. (I don’t mind confessing
now that when I upset your coffee that night it
wasn’t quite an accident.) And yet they talk about never
allowing yourself to get annoyed when people and balls
behave in the most tantalizing manner. And say that if
you cannot control your feelings when you see yourself having
such rotten luck you cannot become a good billiard
player. I don’t believe it Do you'”

“Well I don’t want to believe it,” I admitted “Sort
of ‘If you laugh, or if you smile, you cannot be a lady’
touch about the theory.”

“It’s positively silly!” protested Minerva. “I’ve a good
mind to get a special new rule printed and hung up in the
billiard room Any self-respecting player who does not utter
a gentle ‘damn’ at a spell of hard luck will be penalized
ten points.”

LAURENCE KIRK

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