Monday, October 30, 2017

Incompetent travellers

In the early years of my career my constant travel buddy was Rob Taylor. Rob was a great friend, mentor and companion with only one flaw: he has the worst sense of direction in the world. Normally you'd need a bigger sample size to make such a big claim, but I feel in this case there's no need for such diligence, because on every single occasion Rob has a chance to pick a direction, he always chooses wrong. If he could only have chosen to always do the opposite of what his brain said, he'd have had the best sense of direction.


This was rarely an issue except when he was designated driver, which unfortunately was quite often given I can't drive. At my first EPT in San Remo I shared lodgings with Rob and a bunch of other Irish hopefuls. We flew in to Nice, and the other lads all left before us so Rob drove them to the airport, and somehow found his way back. Despite this dress rehearsal, it still went badly wrong when the time came for him to drive us to the airport. As we drove out of San Remo with the sea to our left, I made the fatal mistake of assuming the obviousness of wanting to keep the sea right there, to our left, and the multitude of signs indicating left for France absolved me of any need to tell Rob to keep left. As we approached the all important fork to the motorway I was lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that Rob was keeping to the left. Which he did, until the last possible second when his internal GPS kicked in and we veered right before I had time to react.

"Rob, we should have gone left"
"Huh? Are you sure?"
"Yes Rob. I'm sure"
"I think you're wrong"
"Rob, we want to drive from Italy to France. France is to the west of Italy. The sea is to the south. So which side should the sea be on?"
"The right?"
"No Rob. The sea should be on our left not our right"
"Are you sure? That can't be right"
"It is.  So which side is the sea actually on Rob?"
"The left?"
"No Rob. It's on our right"
"Are you sure? I think this is the right way?"
"Rob, every sign we pass is to somewhere deeper in Italy"
"So what do we do?"
"Get off the next exit. To the right"


We finally did this about an hour later, and more than an hour later we had snaked our way through some country roads back to and through San Remo, and we were approaching the fork where it had all gone wrong.

As we did so, my first thought was "Surely there's no need to tell him". My second was "This is Rob. There might be". So I watched him like a hawk. True to form, he veered right as I screamed. "LEFT! LEFT! OTHER WAY ROB!!!!"

We made our plane with seconds to spare.

I was reminded of this story in Brighton this week. The wonderful Donna Morton kindly offered me a lift back to hotel after I bust the main, with her travelling companion April. As we passed the exit we should have taken April said "We should have taken that exit" with the dignified resignation of someone who has witnessed many's the missed exit. Donna, with the dignified acceptance of someone experience has taught that her own sense of direction is not as good as that of her travelling companion, gamely accepted this and one full circuit of the roundabout later we were back on track.

That lasted all of thirty seconds when I again made the assumption that "the sea should be on our left" made it unnecessary to tell Donna which direction to take, because I basically never learn. Before we knew it we were back rounding the roundabout as Donna laughed raucously. So I basically learned that Donna is April's Rob Taylor, and April is her Doke.

******
Apart from going round roundabouts with Donna and April, the other most memorable thing about my trip was my starting table in the main. Initially I was sandwiched between Fredrik Bergmann to my right and my study buddy Daiva "Baltic Maniac" Byrne to my left, which if not great for my EV was at least great for my spirits as both are great company.

Then Daiva got moved and her place was taken by Will Kassouf, which caused a bit of a giggle as I'd been chatting with another table mate, Jerome O'Shea, about my recent piece about Will in Bluff Europe. David and I also interviewed Will for The Chip Race. It wasn't exactly a hostile interview but we also didn't hold back asking him about some of the criticisms that were raised about his behaviour at the table.

As a former barrister Will is well able to defend his corner and not to take it personally, and as I said in my Bluff piece I actually like Will a lot and enjoy having him at the table. Mrs Doke, not so much.


No cash for me this time but the trip was one of the most enjoyable and I think the tournament was the biggest success of the UKPT to date, so a big well done to all the other Unibet ambassadors and staff, especially Simon Steedman. Some people say the only reason Simon is in the job is because his Dad is rich and owns Unibet, but.......well, yeah, that's what people say.


Next up for me is a week at home on the online grind, before heading to Rozvadov next Saturday for the WSOPE main event. I have another week at home after that before Punta Cana, which will be quickly followed by the Unibet Open in Bucharest (my favourite event of last year) and UKPT Manchester.

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