Thursday, October 02, 2008

Back to the Grind

By Pauly
London

My first couple of days in London were like Spring Training. It wasn't until Wednesday where the work really began. And for the first time in a very long time, I was in an elated mood buoyed by the news of the Phish Reunion.

I woke up early to write and then headed around the corner for some breakfast. I decided to try the breakfast sandwich at Subway for £1.50. Six inch egg and cheese. Except that I never got to eat it. I got the sandwich to go and stuffed it in the side pocket of my hoodie. When I was sprinted Charing Cross Road (in order to not get hit by a double decker bus), the sandwich must have fell out of my pocket. I returned to my flat empty handed. Dejected, I went back downstairs and grabbed a croissant and OJ from the local Sainsbury's.

I bought an Oyster Card the other day. It's similar to a MetroCard in NYC and you can use it on buses and the tube. The London tube charges you by the zone but with the Oyster Card, you get a discount per ride which makes it worth the while.

It felt kinda cool to take the subway to work at the Grosvenor Victoria Casino. It was only three tube stops on the Central Line followed up by a five minute walk through a very wealthy Muslim neighborhood. The signs on several of the stores are in Arabic and you see plenty of women walking around in burkas.

I had been listening to a ton of Radiohead since I landed in the UK. It's amazing music to listen to while wandering the bustling streets of London.

My co-worker for this particular assignment and partner in crime was Snoopy. He's a hysterical young Englishman and one of my favorite poker writers. He's witty and at the top of his game which forces me to elevate mine. Although I was a tad rusty, I rose to the challenge. I did a average job on the first day and expect to improve as the tournament progresses.

I was also in charge of helping training a very lovely young woman named Jay. We share a bit in common since we're both a Eruo-Asian mix. Part of her family is from the UK and the other half is from Singapore. She knew all the local players that I had no idea who they were so she was valuable to our team.

The media room was very small and there were tons of logistical problems. None of those affected me since I was in highly positive mood. Call it the Phish Reunion Glow coupled with the non-drowsy cold medication that I was taking. I wasn't sick per se... I just like the speed in it because it gives me a little pep in my step.

I had not covered a European Poker Tour event since the Scandinavian Open last February in Copenhagen, Denmark. Work is work, but there are several cool writers and photographers and staff from PokerStars.com and other members of the European press that I get to see exclusively in Europe. Benjo was nearby along with Mad and Bartley and Howard.

We had a brief dinner break of 45 minutes on the EPT compared to the lengthy two hour meals that the WSOPE provided. Homer (a fellow poker scribe from Blonde Poker who resides in Leeds) and I headed around the corner to McDonald's. I don't usually eat fast food very often, particularly McD's but we were pressed for time.

As I wrote earlier, the neighborhood is Muslim and I had no idea that it was the end of Ramadan. When night fell we could hear something going on outside on the streets below. Lots of celebrating. Benjo thought it was a bunch of drunks celebrating a big win in a football match. But it was Neil who clued us in on the end of Ramadan. Everyone got to eat after a lengthy fast. Plus it's sort of like Christmas and everyone gives each other gifts. A lot of 20-something Muslim guys showed off their fancy sports cars and drove them up and down Edgeware Road as the honked and cruised and scream out at their friends sitting outside of various hookah bars that peppered the neighborhood.

When I left work around 12:30am, they festivities were in full swing. By that time of night, I missed the last tube and took a night bus back to my flat. I rode the double decker down Oxford Street which was almost empty.

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