Stop your internal dialogue. I know it can get fucking boring on telly. But trust me, that’s a different game; a sanitised, squeaky-clean imitation of the very real thing. And snooker’s home is not The Crucible, Sheffield, or The Guildhall, Preston. It was born and lives on Brooksby’s Walk, Hackney, E8. This holy sod of earth was first and it ever shall be. Here is the underclass temple, its scaffolding stretching to the stars. And these are the facets of the one, true, honest faith:
God put things upon earth, so that they should be enjoyed.
Weed and alcohol are our drugs of choice and they are to be found in abundance. Over time a system has developed enabling us to observe our communion and remain competitive. Someone skins up when not at the table; the joint is lit; it’s smoked two tokes at a time to avoid a sideburn and allow longevity. Lager must be diluted with lemonade (top, dash, or shandy). Don’t consider straying. All other stimulants and depressants have been explored and disregarded. Simply smoke until the heart cries ‘no more’. (Sometimes the throat cries first and you must heed, but never trust the head, it has a needlessly careful agenda.)
Trust in your beliefs and you can never be imprisoned.
You will witness delirious celebration as crims and prodigals return to the fold to find the warmest of welcomes. It’s customary to stop play and either applaud or embrace your brother, depending on his size and scariness.
Cleanliness is not next to holiness.
Everything you touch — cues, balls, tables, scoreboard, chalk — has been handled countless times before. The toilets must never be complained of, even if you’re a girl (there is no girls’ toilet). The handwash dispenser and dryer are supplied by Rentokill, which tells its own story, and it’s common to see brethren leaving the place of relief having forgotten to return their member to their trousers. Don’t be alarmed. We are all of us naked in front of the Lord.
The temple has tables so they can be kicked over.
You must never be scared to voice an opinion, argue a point, or throw a wooden triangle across the room. These are standard practises and will herald only acceptance. The club hosts ‘Da 118’ gang which, despite leaving no Hackney wall untagged, uses home turf to plea against persecution. ‘Don’t Hate Da 118’ is the slogan. Let love, not fear, be your guide.
Listen to the wise and you will be granted wisdom.
The fella that works behind the bar used to manage Alicia Keyes so he clearly knows his shit about black music. Elsewhere, we now know how to avoid being caught on speed cameras, how to get free pornography via SKY, where to get the best sausages money can procure and why you should never ask a Turk if he has the time.
Don’t worship false idols.
This is the land that brands forgot. Don’t be asking for Grey Goose or Stoli. Ask for Vodka, my son, and drink aplenty.
Christ will re-appear and bring salvation.
You must observe the images that surround you; the first-hand, steadfast evidence under nicotine-stained glass. Your leader is named Ronnie O’Sullivan and you must trust in him. If Ronnie isn’t in the club — and he often is — then bask in his spirit, all around. It’s wise to re- visit the photographs every so often to re-affirm your faith. Every night you return, safe in the knowledge that so too, one day, will he. Never doubt this happening.
Diligence and dedication has a price. You must be careful and considerate in your worship. Leave your trendy ideals at the door and bathe in acceptance. Release your body and spirit to us and be given a home, and freedom, and excitement, and shelter, for as long as we both shall live. Here is your passport to eternal happiness. Transcend your reality and enter a dark, sweet, sinister world of limitless wonderment. Discover a new dimension, a higher existence, where all of us are one. The sanctuary of all souls is being offered to you. Buy a cheap cue from Argos. Pick up your Oyster and begin your pilgrimage; the 242 bus goes direct to blinding beauty. God bless the Snooker hall and all who fail in her.