I have the best part-time job in London
I’ve even come to love the seedy men
Getting a student job is imperative unless you’re a trust fund brat or adept at shoplifting.
Luckily in London we are not short of employment opportunities, and I think I have bagged myself the best job out there.
I work in a Bridge club.
Before starting I imagined I would be working in some exclusive private members bar in Hampstead called “The Bridge Club” with more chandeliers than sense.
I was shocked when I started work and found myself in a dusty village hall-style building, with dusty octogenarians playing cards and drinking Sancerre.
I picked up the basics very quickly. My main role is making smoked salmon sandwiches to be gummed on by aged men and smiling politely as ex-playboys make leery comments like, “I’d like to know The Bridge Club’s source of sexy ladies.”
Their seediness persisted when their eyesight had faded – I was sporting an accidental buzzcut and a full face of crimson spots. My colleague was also quite obviously a male.
Other delightful customers included a woman who, despite living in Fulham, brought with her the unmistakeable stench of horse manure. Every other bridge player was far too polite to even acknowledge that fact, despite its eye watering potency.
No doubt the stench reminded them of their childhoods in the country, as every player insists on calling anywhere outside of the M25. I overheard one doddery gentlewoman telling a newcomer, “Of course, playing Bridge is much like riding a horse, once you learn you never forget.”
For the first year of my employment, I must confess, I poured scorn on the people who would come to the North London Bridge Club every single evening and and play for 4 hours, while they consumed their ‘usual’ of a coronation chicken sandwich (with no butter thank you), a packet of oatcakes and a bottle of Côtes du Rhône.
It was remarkable to think that everyone in the room apart from me was alive when coronation chicken had actually been invented. From my vantage point behind the bar I looked on as friendships were built, feuds were consolidated and senile love affairs were kindled over the green felted card tables. I was puzzled by their obsession with a silly card game.
That was until the life changing moment that I learnt to play. I spent a weekend learning the basics. It was bizarre to be in a group of toffs with no more than 10 years left on their expiry dates who were all labelled as ‘beginners’.
If my death were as imminent as theirs I’d like to think I’d be getting obscene facial tattoos and popping molly in WI meetings, but I guess they needed something to entertain themselves with the hordes of other OAPs that they’d meet the other side of the pearly gates.
At the card table I was set apart from the others by the fact that I wasn’t eligible for a winter heating allowance and I wasn’t a member of the ruling class.
My partner was an ocean going bitch who was determined that I’d marry her only son and ‘complete the family Bridge team’. I politely declined her offer on the grounds that she was almost three times my age. But by the end of the weekend I was so obsessed with the game that I downloaded a free Bridge app to my iPhone.
Better than pulling pints, that’s for sure.