Whisper it not in the Crucible ... you're snookered

Share
Related Topics
I sense that television has changed in the past few days. My viewing has taken on a new flavour. Some unseen change has overtaken the programming. In some indefinable way, TV has undergone a tremendous shift, and I can't quite pin it down. Can you help?

Yes. The snooker is over.

Snooker?

The circus has moved on. The cleaning ladies have moved into the Crucible at Sheffield and are even now taking away the sponsors' stands and the old crisp packets and are trying to get the chalk marks out of the carpet. No longer are young men with good old British names like Davis and Bond and White and Hicks bent over the green baize table or sitting nervously in the interview room, looking like suspects brought in off the street on charges of wilfully dropping a frame or missing a pink ...

What are you talking about?

I'm sorry. It has got to me, too. But I'm in the recovery stage now.

From what?

The snooker. It has been proven that the coverage of snooker during a world championship is so intense that even people who have no intention of watching any, indeed even people who have no idea that it is on, end up watching two or three hours a day.

How is it possible to watch snooker accidentally?

Easily. You switch on a programme you want, you watch it, it ends, a voice says: "And now we're going over to the Crucible", and before you can get to the controls you find yourself watching Bond against Hicks, and you just go on watching.

Why?

Well, to begin with it is out of sheer curiosity, to try to guess which one is Hicks and which one is Bond. Then you start noticing odd things, like that it is the only game on TV where you can't see the players, only what they're doing. Then you start hearing loud shouts and cheers at a time when Bond or Hicks is doing no more than staring down his cue, and you wonder if the crowd is telepathic and knows he is going to get the shot, and then you realise that there is another game going on the other side of the wall with a completely different crowd, and then you start supporting Bond against Hicks or maybe Hicks against Bond, and by that time you are lost, and then you start wondering why the commentators are whispering ...

Ah! I wondered that myself.

And what conclusion did you come to?

Well, at first I thought it must be because they were so close to the action and didn't want to disturb the players, but then it occurred to me that they never let commentators that close, and it must be because they are in a room upstairs somewhere but they want to give the impression that they are within whispering distance of the players.

Yes. That's probably it.

What I couldn't understand was why all the players had nicknames like the Rocket and the Tornado and the Hurricane and so on. I have never seen such slow movers in all my life. Nobody moved as fast as a push-chair, let alone a rocket.

You have to remember that snooker is one of the slowest games in the world, very sedate and methodical, so in order to get a reputation as a fast mover, you don't actually have to move fast, just move a little faster than the rest. This means that if you walk purposefully between shots, instead of ambling, you will become known as the Typhoon within six months.

I still can't understand why I got hooked on the snooker.

Well, there is an interesting moment in Harpo Marx's autobiography where he relates the story of a visit to Moscow in the Thirties, during which he decided to go to a play in Russian. It was a very slow play, he said; just two people on stage, just sitting, hardly talking and hardly doing anything, yet the audience was hanging on every word. Harpo said he was there for over half an hour before he realised he was not actually in a theatre at all, but at a chess tournament.

What has that got to do with anything?

If chess can become theatre, how much more so snooker?

But we are free of snooker now, aren't we?

Only for the time being. This fifth television channel will probably be given to a snooker consortium. Rupert Murdoch will probably create a non-stop snooker super league. They'll use lottery money to preserve Hendry's greatest breaks ... It's only a matter of time before they discover a way of spreading snooker on the Internet.

You're joking, surely?

Am I? I hope so.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Creche Assistant or Nursery Nurse

£8 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: The Job Creche Assistant to start asap ...

Nursery Nurse Level 3

£8 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: The Job Nursery Nurse Leeds We are now ...

Web Developer/UI Developer (HTML5, CSS3,Jquery) London

£55000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Data Scientist (SQL, PHP, RSPSS, CPLEX, SARS, AI) - London

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ashya King's father explained why he took his son to Spain in a video uploaded to YouTube  

Ashya King: Breakdown in relations leads to this PR fiasco

Paul Peachey
Jim Murphy, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development holds a carton of eggs during a speech to Better Together supporters  

When the course of history is on the line, democracy is a raw, vicious and filthy business

Matthew Norman
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering