Cracker by Damian Christie


Post St Patrick's Day Blues

I don’t know what I think about the David Bain t-shirts. I guess at least they’re kinda subtle, I mean they could have a picture of the man himself with “you were the only one who deserved to live” written underneath in an 80s computer font or something. But Bain’s jersey has, like Fleur’s undies and Pete’s Marmite jar, become something of a perverse icon. It was even asked after – by an effusive Mr Campbell if memory serves – at that poor excuse for a press conference a couple of years back

I’m not sure who, if anyone other than the Herald reporter, called them a ‘tasteless gimmick’ – those words aren’t specifically attributed – but it seems ironic that World’s Denise L’Estrange Corbet is called on to comment on offensive t-shirts, given it was only a couple of years ago she was in the firing line for the same thing – in her case producing a range of children’s t-shirts with tasteless, gimmicky slogans such as “Future Porn Star”.

Of course, when World do it, they are being “humorous and irreverent”. Wrong. Turns out they weren’t even being original, which is about the only positive adjective one could normally ascribe to their fashion aesthetic, which personally I’ve always found to fluctuate between tasteless and gimmicky and Rupert the Bear.

Anyway, blah. I might yet buy one, we’ll see.

In other news, I broke a longstanding rule last night – I was midway through becoming a Danger to Shipping – and went to the Casino. Generally I hate the place. As Louis Theroux so brilliantly illustrated in his documentary on gambling in Las Vegas, for an industry passing itself off as entertainment, very few people seem to be having fun.

But out with friends last night, walking from one awful Irish bar to the next, we passed that Tower of Babel on Victoria Street. Turns out my friends find the place almost as repulsive, but convinced me on the merits of their approach: Dash in, put a not-insubstantial sum of money all on Black (on the roulette table) and walk out a minute later, having either doubled your money, or lost it.

So while they chose Black, I chose Odds. One spin of the wheel later, the three of us walked away disappointed. Until I was called back. Turns out “Five Red” is an 'odd', go figure. A few quick hands of Blackjack (I’d never played in a Casino before, and well, you know how easy it is to spend money that was never yours), of which I won two and lost one, and I walked out with a tidy profit – all of which was then poured into this morning’s hangover.

A friend once told me that the worst thing that ever happened to him was his first win at the casino. Out of cash, his mother lent him money for cigarettes (I know). He walked into the Casino with $20, and walked out with $1000. For several years after, he had a serious gambling problem.

I don’t think I have a particularly addictive personality. Yes I smoke cigarettes, but when it comes to anything else, I seem able to start and stop at will. Unfortuantely this includes exercise, the only thing I’d really like to get hooked on. But gambling’s never really done it for me – my disappointment at losing money completely overwhelms the joy of possibly winning. Even when relatives send me a Lotto ticket for my birthday, I quietly wish they’d just send me nothing-a-week-later, because it amounts to the same thing, but with the bonus of a loser’s disappointment.

So instead of heading back to the casino today, I opened up a sharetrading account (you can do it via your Internet banking, it turns out) and bought some shares. I figure with stocks at record lows, anything I buy now is either going to go up, or crash and burn completely. Much like the roulette wheel, really, except I get to call it a ‘portfolio’, even if I start to lose.

(Advice from anyone who’s been doing this longer than me – i.e. since this morning – is gratefully received).

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