Apologies to my reader for the later arrival of this post. No excuses, I made a hash of things
As an adult, I like to think that I am a pretty good loser. I’m certainly good at losing and am now very proud of how bad I am at things such as chess (I’ve only ever won five games) and squash (four wins, if you discount beating Jon Bunting once a week for a term at school). But I like to think that I am grown up in defeat and can lose reasonably gracefully*.
As a child, this wasn’t always the case and my two most shameful examples of being a sore loser came when I was about 7 or 8. Sadly, both involved my Uncle Allan.
The first occasion came over a game of chess. I had just learned to play the game (not very well, you will have gathered) and for some reason Allan owned a giant chess set. This wasn’t as large as the huge ones you find in the gardens of big houses, or public parks, but each piece must have been at least 6″ high and the board – this being the 1970s – was a fluffy chequered rug.
My inevitable defeat brought on a meltdown of such proportions that it still astonishes me even now. I bawled and howled my way around the house for what seemed like hours (and almost certainly wasn’t), loudly complaining that Allan should have let me win because I was “only little”. Which is a rule I am very glad has never caught on, otherwise I would have to let people beat me at everything.
The second occasion was a couple of years later. I cannot remember why, but for some reason we were somewhere that there was a table tennis table and Allan and my Aunt Gillian were with us as well. Now my father is a mean table tennis player and I had by that stage played the odd game, as my Nana also had a table which we would set up in her garden, so when it came to my turn to play Gillian I must have fancied my chances, as for some insane and obnoxious reason I began referrning to her as being a “rank amatuer”.
Needless to say, I received a swift lesson in humility. Strangely, I didn’t seem to register it as such and went around loudly proclaiming that I couldn’t believe that I had lost to a rank amateur. This went on for about five minutes or so, before Dad pointed out that losing to someone I thought was a rank amateur meant that it was actually me who was the rank amateur. Which shut me up, and taught me quite a lesson about how to treat an opponent.
*There’s an exception to every rule and in my case it is a cheating git of an opening batsman from Wraysbury Cricket Club, but that is another story