As we build up towards the Oliver Turkington Memorial Dinner in September, I've spent many hours searching through old photos for our Facebook event page to help get everyone in the mood.
A couple of lines of explanation is normally enough in each case. But the picture you can see above requires a slightly extended piece of commentary.
It was taken in an apartment slap bang in the centre of Tokyo. The young Japanese man in the white tee shirt played against us in our final tour game in the national rugby stadium a couple of days later, and was officially "host" to Wee Colin (who took the photo) and me. His tubby brother is in green. And in the foreground is their drunken dad who was completely off his tits at all times.
Our host was an absolute gent who spoke perfect English and couldn't do enough for us. But his younger sibling was a spoilt little so-and-so whose command of our native language seemed to centre around his knowledge of food products. His other area of expertise, to my cost, was chess.
I'm not very good at chess. I know how all the pieces move but I've only won a single game in my life, leaving me some distance from being a Grand Master. Sensing my vulnerability, Fat Boy insisted that I hand my scalp to him on a plate. And, not wishing to offend him or his nation, I reluctantly agreed whilst Colin sat sniggering from behind a newspaper.
The first couple of minutes went as well as could be expected; I moved a couple of pawns and then a bishop (I think) to make it look like I had a plan. My overweight opponent countered by bringing a knight into play whilst simultaneously making two hot dogs disappear.
It was at this point that the door squeezed open and a little yappy (Jappy?) dog ran in. Trying to be friendly, I smiled and made some comment about how nice the dog was. (It wasn't. It was just a dog). Fat Boy simply ignored me, moved his rook and got started on the chips.
The dog moved towards me and then under the table where we were sitting. My smile lessened. Unseen, I felt the dog climb onto my leg. My smile disappeared. The dog began to, well, pump. My smile changed to a grimace. Colin's grimace changed to a smile. The dog continued to pump. I moved my bishop back to where it started. The dog kept going. Tubby moved his queen before shifting more chips. I attempted to shake the dog off, but it was clamped. Pumping. I let a yelp out as the dog flew off my leg. The dog let a yelp out as it bounced off the wall. I looked down at my leg. I was too late. I excused myself as I headed off to the toilet to remove a white sticky substance from my sock.
But there was a happy ending (yes, another one). The dog chose to follow me and, as I was about to close the door, I changed my mind and beckoned it in to join me.
There was a radio in there which I turned on, then up. After quickly completing the clean-up task and washing my hands, I rolled up the hand towel. And I beat that dog to within an inch of its very existence. I justified my actions to myself on the grounds that I'd heard some Japanese people eat dogs and that's far worse.
I then left the scene of the crime and returned to the chess board where Fat Boy swiftly achieved checkmate just in time for pudding. The dog didn't come near me (or on me) for the rest of our stay.
Tickets for our dinner continue to sell well but are still available. You can get yours by visiting the school office at Coleraine Inst, calling Diane Armstrong on Tel: 028 7034 4331 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You'll be very welcome.