A few years ago, when Fintan Gavin’s Irish Poker Championship was moved to Galway, I was given the job of persuading big names chosen by the sponsor to come to the party capital of Ireland to play poker and drink. Or maybe it was the other way around. Now that’s what I call a job!
It was pretty easy and a great laugh. Poker players are great fun to deal with because they’re full of shit and their own importance. My buddy Robert Williamson 111 was the first to try it on. He wanted a first class transatlantic ticket. I told him the bad news was that wasn’t going to happen but the good news was the guys at the back of the plane would arrive just a millisecond after the lads sitting up front, and furthermore would have exactly the same beer privilege. Sold.
The easiest guy to talk into coming was The Devilfish. I told him there would be a band playing in the bar every night and he could get up and sing with them whenever he liked. He was on a plane almost before I hung up the phone. I’ve seen The Fish play guitar in Vegas: Piano in London and Barcelona and keyboards in Paris, but I’ve never seen him as happy as when the band in Galway handed him an electric guitar and let him do vocals every now and again. During a break, I told the guy who’d put the band together that he could tell him to fuck off any time he liked but he said : “Shure he’s grand. Isn’t he enjoying himself?”, before adding almost as an afterthought “Anyway, shure we turned his guitar off half an hour ago.”
There is a school of thought that the Fish never won in Ireland because he was too busy telling Irish jokes in the worst stage Irish accent you’ve ever heard to concentrate on the boring stuff, like figuring out what’s going on in the game. One of his favourites (and mine too because it was so bad it always made me crack up) involved three guys, one Irish, one English and one Scottish who worked together as scaffolders on a London building site. As they worked at great heights, they had lunch together sitting at the top of the building. One day, the English guy opened his lunch box to discover he had been given spam sandwiches. “I hate spam. If she gives me spam again tomorrow, I’m going to end it all.” The Scottish guy had also been given spam, by his wife and joined his English colleague in the suicide pact. The Irish guy opened his lunch box and he also had spam sandwiches. He immediately agreed to jump off the building with his pals if it happened again. The next day The English guy jumped off the building when he discovered his Mrs had given him spam again. The Scottish guy did likewise. Paddy, the irish guy, slowly opened the lid of his box and dived off the building when he spied a spam sandwich.
At their joint funeral, the English guy’s wife was distraught and told the other two widows she thought her husband liked spam, so that was why she gave it to him quite often. The bemused Scottish widow had much the same story. The Irish widow looked completely confused when she said “I really don’t know what happened because Paddy used to make his own sandwiches.”