Tuesday, 16 February 2010
‘The bubble’ is a term to plunge any poker player’s heart into misery: the last place before the money in a tournament. I have argued before that a bubble (a soft, fat, gentle and appealing thing) is quite the wrong image for the situation. It should be called “going out on the spike”. Nevertheless, bubble it is, so the connotations become horribly negative over time. Why, then, would I agree to do a TV show with that ominous name? How could it end well?
Jeff Kimber went out on the bubble of last week’s UKIPT Manchester with a pair of aces. Doesn’t get more horrible than that. I finished 25th for £1650 – which might have been one of those cases of exasperatingly so-near-and-yet-so-far except, under the circumstances, it was probably just as well. The final went on late into Sunday night, and on Monday at dawn I was due to set off for a period of total isolation in Lincolnshire. That takes some packing.
I say “total isolation”, it’s actually weirder than that. By the time you read this, I will have been locked up for two days with Frank Skinner and Reginald D Hunter. A curious threesome, I think you’ll admit. The idea of ‘The Bubble’ (a new topical panel game for BBC 2) is that the contestants will be asked questions about the week’s news without having seen the week’s news. To this end, we are locked away from televisions, newspapers, telephones or the internet for several days before the quiz takes place. After the 13-hour playing days in Manchester, I’m hoping to live like a 17th century aristocrat: almost constant sleep, punctuated by the occasional game of cribbage.
So, please don’t think I’m being rude if I don’t reply to comments here this week. I won’t be seeing them. I won’t be seeing anything, except Frank Skinner, Reginald D Hunter, and a bit of Lincolnshire outside the window. I don’t know what’s scarier: a week without my phone, without my laptop and without any poker, or being publicly quizzed alongside two professional comedians at the end of it. What if I’m accidentally silent from start to finish? It’s the stuff of nightmares – maybe I won’t be sleeping constantly, in seclusion, so much as doing whatever it takes to avoid sleeping at all. But the scariness is all to be embraced. If you read the news page of this site, you’ll see I’m trying to make good on a New Year’s Resolution; it seemed like an excellent idea at the time. Hmm. If I had my life over again, I’d resolve to give up smoking instead.