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The Day The Music Lived

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Jan 15, '16

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Some races are more important than others. On a Friday night a few weeks ago I won one in a live game in Clichy in Paris to hit the front for the day. I pocketed the chips immediately as I was already late to join some friends in Patricks Pub in the 11th arrondissement where I live to watch Ireland play Bosnia in a two leg play off for a spot in the Euro 2016 soccer championships. I wasnt too bothered about being a bit late. If you’d watched Ireland play recently you wouldnt be either. It makes watching guys in hoodies and shades grimace their way slowly through a tv poker hand look madly exciting. I had to walk up rue de Charonne to get to my destination. The bars were full of mainly young people out for a typical Friday night out in Paris. I turned the corner and hit Patricks at about 9:15. Things were looking up. I’d won a race, my friend Paul had locked up a seat for me and Ireland werent behind yet. A guy I didn’t know started talking poker to me. He said hed been standing on the rail watching me play Day 1 of the Irish Open 2015. I thought that made him a good judge of entertainment until I remembered he was watching Ireland ffs. It all became clear when he told me that his buddy was sitting beside me at the table.

The match was going rather well, especially when fog descended and we couldn’t see a fucking thing though the commentator assured us that Ireland had scored. Happy days. Nobody payed much attention to all the sirens wailing outside as it was Friday night after all until someone said four people had been shot around the corner. In rue de Charonne. Then we heard the BaTaClan down the road was under siege. Innocent people were being massacred at random. It kept getting worse. The death toll around the corner was rising. (It eventually reached 19, most of whom were attending or working at a birthday party). I’ve been locked in pubs before but was never more relieved to be locked into Patricks that night.

It was all a bit of a blur the next day to be honest. Like everyone else I watched tv in a state of stupor, horrified at the barbarity of these murdering nut jobs. Martyrs my ass. Paris was a city in shock. Numb. Angry. Horrified. Scared. And finally Defiant. I have no idea how a piano appeared in the street not far from the BaTa Clan but it was there. A young guy stepped up and played Imagine, reminding a city that love will ultimately triumph over hatred and that these guys can’t and won’t win. It’s not a race. They have no hand.

A couple of days later I was playing poker in Clichy again (there isn’t any choice in Paris these days). It was kinda funny in that the French who are the best whiners in the world seemed to be riding the punches with a bit more aplomb than usual. That won’t last! I got a call telling me the Irish were busy defying just about everyone by going on the beer in the Rush Pub which is a stones throw from the BaTaClan. I’m way too much of a patriot to let that one go on without me. I was also winning so joined them pretty sharpish. I got there in time to hear a girl from Clare, whose great craic, tell a story about a phone conversation she had with her mother the morning after the massacre. Her mother was insisting she go home immediately but she was going nowhere. Telling her that would mean those murderers had won. She went on to say there was a better chance that she’d get run over by a bus than get shot and if you’d seen a French bus driver going about his business you’d find it hard to fault the maths. Eventually her mother gave up and, to change the subject, asked what she’d like for Christmas to which she replied “I was thinking a bulletproof vest would be nice this year”. Thats the Irish for you!

Padraig is currently involved with Jesse May in hosting Irish Pub Poker Tours for medium-sized corporate groups. For info you can contact him on Twitter @padraigpoker.

 
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