English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : April, 1912

The Billiard Monthly : April, 1912

Billiards and Labour Disputes

“Jack, you might reach me my scissors. You will find
them in the ball-box, or somewhere there about.”

Minerva had the billiard table covered with old newspapers,
and was leaning over them with outstretched hand
impatiently waiting for the requested article.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Making up my arrears of reading. And I’ve just had
a lovely idea about the coal strike. Hurry up with those
Scissors, please, before I forget it. I wish you would take
more interest in the events of the day, dear,” she went on
as she snipped at the newspapers. “You could help me
ever so much if you did. But I’m afraid you will always
be lazy.”

“Thank you!”

“Yes, when I see you slowly sauntering through life—
sauntering, mind you—in these days of rush and bustle, I
am reminded of the crawling cannons which that long follow
with the parsonic expression makes on the table. You
know! Begins with a D.”

“It does! I never heard such impudence—beginning
with a D—in all my life.”

“No, no: not the impudence—the professional. What’s-his-name—Dougal, or something…”

“Diggle?”

“Diggle! That’s the chap. You always remind me of
his creeping cannons and his mother-I-don’t-want-to-go-home
in-offs. The same aimless, lackadaisical manner, as
if you readied your goal by the merest accident and with
the last breath in your body; sort of: It is sweet and good
to die for one’s country, but an awful bore, don’t you
know!…”

“Half-hour’s up, Madam,” I interrupted.

“Thank you, I’m going again, sonny,” she smiled, and
continued her break. “Can you tell me if the nerves of
ivory balls have over been known to suffer from creeping
paralysis? Always when I watch Diggle play I feel like
being at a sick bedside and just about to witness the patient
finally and completely losing all power of motion. Now, I
know what you’re going to shout. It’s ‘ Good old Diggle!’
But you needn’t cheer. I’m not abusing Diggle. In fact,
I rather like him: but I do object to the way he transmits
his own inertia to the balls. It makes me want to scream
to see the poor things crawl gasping up to the edge of the
pocket and topple in dead beat—positively scream. Still.

I think Diggle a perfect love of a player, and I would
always pay to go in to see him. if it was my last shilling.

But should you think Diggle a happy man?”

“I haven’t the faintest notion.”

“I am awfully curious to know. I think he deserves to
be.” She paused and gazed dreamily at the Snooker
Cabinet hanging on the wall. “Do you know I can
visualize Diggle quite cheerful in other circumstances,” she
resumed. “In my mind’s eye I can—yes, I can even see
him smile. It seems to me that that man away from billiards
would make at his worst moments a most delightful village
curate; and at his best, a philosopher interesting beyond
words. Poor old Diggle! I am sure billiards has stolen a
genuine philosopher from the world in him: and I believe
he knows it and that’s what makes him look so sad when
he plays. I have often looked in his face for the joy of
life..:…”

“Will you have mercy on your poor old word-beaten
partner, and say what all this about Diggle has got to do
with me?”

“I don’t know. You rather reminded me of some of his
strokes.”

“Yes. you said that before. But what has that got to
do with the coal strike and the scissors I fetched for you?”

“I—I don’t remember,” she faltered. “I thought I had
a brilliant idea about something—but it’s gone… O, yes.

Did you take any interest in the coal strike negotiations?”

“I read the reports, and all that sort of thing.”

“But did you follow the moves?”

“Not in my line, my dear. Besides, I was too busy
while you were away—hunting coal agents.”

“See here,” she said, pointing to a cutting, “while the
negotiations were going on some person sent to Mr.

Asquith a bunch of flowers to place on the delegates’ table,
in the hope that they would soothe the savage breasts of
the negotiators. Does that suggest anything to your
mind?”

“Yes,” I admitted “It rather suggests the picture of
Mr. Asquith adding to his next invitation to a conference
the notice, ‘ No flowers by request ‘.”

“Goose! I have a much better idea than that. And I
am going to sit down right now and send it to Burroughes
and Watts. I am sure they will give me some money for
it What do you think?”‘
“What’s your idea?”

“I shall patent it. It will settle all future labour disputes.

You see if it doesn’t. Perhaps I ought to send it
to Lloyd George. No. I’ll stick to Burroughes and Watts.

How much should I ask them for it?”

“Say a box of Spinks chalk to begin with—as a feeler,
you know.”

“Rude thing! I shall ask a hundred pounds down and
a royalty.”

“A what?”

“Well, perhaps I ought to be content with a seat on
their Board instead of the royalty. We’ll see.”

“Come on. What’s this wonderful idea? Out with it.”

“My idea is,” said she, jumping up on the table; utterly
regardless of the cushions in her excitement, “my idea is
for Burroughes and Watts to present to the Board of Trade,
or to the Home Office, or wherever the labour disputes are
negotiated, one of their patent Billiardiners to be used as
the conference table. You see the possibilities? Whenever
negotiations reach a delicate stage the chairman will
whip off the covers, and, before the angry and heated delegates
have time to part in their usual high and mighty
dudgeon, Mr. Asquith or Lloyd George will have the
Snooker balls placed and everything all ready and right for
an appeal to their better nature.”

“Cute!”

“I think it’s ripping! Everybody knows that billiards
puts people into a good humour and leaves a way open to
get out of all annoying and difficult situations. A Billiardiner
would have ended the coal strike in two jiffeys. The
more I think of this, dear, the more I believe it is going
to be the solution of all kinds of disputes in the future.

Don’t you think so? When the Board of Trade takes it
up all the board-rooms in the country will be fitted with
Billiardiners. Employers and employees will take the cue
from the Government. No pun. And then there will be
an end to labour troubles—and coal will be cheaper. Pass
me a pen and ink, dear. What is Burroughes and Watts’
address?”

LAURENCE KIRK

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