Donald MacInnes: Victoria saved me from puggies and penury
In The Red
Donald MacInnes writes Tales from the Water Cooler, which can be found every Saturday on page 2 of i. And, although a financial near-imbecile, he writes a weekly column in The Independent’s Money section, also on Saturdays. He writes regularly on a broad range of subjects in i’s Freeview section and occasionally fills in on Simon Kelner’s daily column when emotionally up to it. @DonaldAMacInnes
Friday 21 June 2013
During my final year at college, I developed a habit of playing pub fruit machines. Or "puggies", as they are called back home.
For three months in my senior year, I spent every lunchtime throwing coins into whichever flashing, bleeping box was nearest to the campus. Thankfully, even though I lost a few hundred quid, something pulled me back before I fell over the edge into the abyss of hardcore penury. Maybe it was Presbyterian guilt.
This close shave coloured my lack of financial derring-do in the years to come. In fact, the only form of gambling which ever came close to seducing me was poker. And again I was pulled back from a potentially damaging fondness for the cards and the green beize by an external force: this time she was a celebrity.
Back in 2001, I wrote freelance features for a magazine called Mondo. One day, the editor called me in and said I was to go to Puerto Banus in Spain to play in a poker tournament on some tycoon's yacht. "But I don't play poker," I said. He snorted. "You'll do fine. We'll give you a few quid to bet with."
I thus found myself on said vessel, sitting terrified at a poker table with some of the top professional players in the world. To my right was Victoria Coren, then a simple journalist and aspiring card sharp; now obviously far more famous for hosting BBC Four's Only Connect and double-barrelling her name to Coren-Mitchell after marrying the Would I Lie To You star. David, or something, I think his name is.
Truth be told, I had a big crush on Victoria back then and, as the first hand was being dealt, I was determined to impress her with my skills. Not having a clue what I was doing, all I could do was go Joe Hollywood, so after examining my cards, I bet my entire pile of chips on a full house – not a bad hand.
With a flicker of a smile, Coren laid down a straight flush, blowing me clean out of the water and the game.
I crawled back to London, having lost both my chance with Victoria and all of the money I had been advanced for the game. Well, at least any lingering desire to gamble my life away had been quelled.
For that, I thank you, Victoria. Pity we didn't connect. Although I'm happy for your success.
Would I lie to you?
Compare with the Independent: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now
Solar on Schools project offers green investors 'tangible, ethical assets'
easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou aims to make buying a home easier
Life expectancy calculator will allow people to plan ahead but needs to be handled carefully
Simon Read: Facebook and PayPal may be about to cash in as people get more fed up with high-street banks
How to start your own internet business
- 1 Easter egg hunt horror as mother finds dead body under deck of house
- 2 'Natural' energy drink banned for containing erectile dysfunction drug
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 Kingdom Tower: Construction of 1km high new world’s tallest building to begin next week in Saudi Arabia
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
iJobs Money & Business
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£221.25 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a well established Inter...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Client Relationship Manager - SQL...
£35000 - £50000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Take your chance to join the...
Day In a Page
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000
A three-bedroom, coach house with luxury open-plan living space and contemporary breakfast bar
A newly refurbished one-bedroom flat in the heart of Mayfair, close to Grosvenor Square
A charming four-bedroom house overlooking Burleigh Square Park, close to Thorpe Bay
A three-bedroom farmhouse with a large inglenook fireplace and exposed beams
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000
A substanstial family home with five bedrooms and landscaped gardens in the much sought-after Branksome Park area
A well-presented three-bedroom house with front and rear gardens, close to White City station, £475,000
A handsome five-bedroom house in a sought-after location close to the city centre
A five-bedroom country home with valley views, equestrian stables and 27 acres of land, £725,000
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A three-bedrrom flat with 2,733sq feet of living space, a beautiful private garden and 15 acres of communal grounds