I'm going to be brutally honest. It's 9pm on a Sunday, I've just come in from the cold and the rain, I'm exhausted from four nights on the trot with little sleep and I'm in the middle of a good book. I don't want to be sitting here and writing, but I'm doing it anyway. As much as I want to curl up with a Baileys and some Brahms, I can't bring myself to let this deadline pass without some effort to meet it. I don't want to admit defeat.
It's tempting to add "not to Bice" to that, but it would only be for dramatic effect. I've played countless games of many kinds against Bice and have almost certainly lost the majority of them. If there were any shame in losing to him, it's a shame to which I've become well accustomed.
Setting aside our many rounds of Soul Calibur 2, where I feel that the vast disparity of scores exaggerates the true difference in skill, the games we've mostly competed in have been board games. Long, strategic board games with many players like Civilisation, Risk, or Game of Thrones.
The way it works is like this. Bice, Chris, myself and at least one person named James will gather around a table and set it up. The person named James is sometimes my brother, sometimes my friend James Whelan. The role of the James is to act as my nemesis. If there is more than one James present, then the only difficulty is figuring out what the plural of 'nemesis' is. Also 'James'.
Before the game, the James will warn the other players against my notorious abilities and to urge them to unite against me. During the opening, they will seize upon my economy of motion and speed of decision making as examples that – unless I'm stopped by extraordinary means – my victory is certain.
Then the game will progress to the middle phase, where at least one James will hurl everything he's got at me, sabotaging whatever manoeuvres I had planned and leaving both of our forces greatly diminished and my spirit crushed by the irrationality and the sheer unfairness of it all.
Broken now in mind, robbed of strength, and probably never actually being that good in the first place my game quickly crumbles and I'm soon eliminated. Whichever James attacked me is wiped out shortly after that.
Then Chris wins.
It's not that I'm bitter, it's not that I mind losing to Chris, it's just that I'm just convinced that if only I could throw off the shackles of my Jacobion Nemesi (or Nemetical Jameses) I could lose on my own terms in more interesting ways. I enjoy their company (and indeed, competing against them) too much to ever try to exclude them from playing, but I do sometimes hope that maybe this will be the game where Reason rules and I don't get ganged up on in the early phases. (OK, I am bitter, but I really don't mind losing to Chris)
Phew. I've been wanting to get that off my chest for a long time. Thanks.
Next week's word is "door".