Shhh! Just between you and me, Ned’s on a secret mission to the northern hemisphere. I’m not saying that Shag is involved, but let’s just say that it involves secret caches of Maketu Pies behind enemy lines. To cover my undercover moments, I’ve selected a few choice moments from the Road To Redemption.
Originally published 5 December 2010
Grandad Charlie was the bee’s knees when it came to cards. He could play everything from Snap to Happy Families to Cribbage to Euchre to 500 to Bridge with just the right amount of cunning and good humour to entrance grandchildren of all ages. We wanted to play with him because we wanted to see the magic of how he played.
Euchre was the entry level game for playing with the adults – all the cousins and uncles and aunts and brothers and sisters and hangers-on who swirled around on late summer holiday nights. Best was to play with Charlie and Dad and Uncle George because they had a fearsome level of card skill. The cards would be shuffled, dealt, called and played in a blur of boisterous banter.
Once you’d earned your stripes there, you would be allowed to sit next to Dad to watch and learn 500. Second player plays low. Third player plays high. Lead back your partner’s lead. Finesses and counting cards and making your losses early.
The competition to pick up kitty was intense, especially when you needed to keep the opposing pair from winning. Much better, reckoned Uncle George, to look for a miracle in kitty, even if it meant going out the back door more often than not. And Dad’s style of thumping down the winning card for the decisive trick with a smash of the knuckles on the table.
Charlie was more subtle than that. You’d think that he had been put into an impossible contract, and then he’d play with a deftness that mesmerised. How, exactly, had he persuaded the other players to throw away the right card at the wrong time?
But he’d just grin broadly and say something about luck, and kiss the grandkids good night, and look like he was in heaven to have his whanau all gathered around and having some fun together.