School buses and poker player’s earrings

It’s my daughter’s first day of secondary school, my son turns four this week, but here I am worrying about earrings for poker players.

Yes, you read that right. Earrings. That’ll be two earrings, not one. It might well be that  87% of poker players are male (and I’m guessing a low percentage of those are of the earring wearing type) but  I’m not bothered  about ear decoration for poker playing men, oh no,  I’m only concerned with the ears of  poker playing women.

I had promised my daughter I would escort her to the bus stop on her first day, but I got in a bit of a flap as she prepared for school. I didn’t want her to miss her first ever school bus. She wasn’t in real danger of  being late, but I hadn’t stopped to notice that because the flap was upon me. So I managed to make matters far worse than they ever needed to be by asking her at least six times if she had her phone, then ten times if she had her lunch box. Then I did the unthinkable, I combed her hair, even though she’d combed her hair already. If anything would worry her that would.

I knew I ought to keep calm and get my daughter to school without  panic – and I failed. Well, mums get first day of  school nerves too.

At the bus stop there was a queue of kids in the same uniform as my daughter. This was reassuring.  My 11.45 pm recky of the bus stop had failed to establish whether it was the right  stop, but this was proof. I could relax, there would be no panic drive to Canterbury while I cursed my bad mothering

I was pleased that the bus turned up on time and glad to note that it was clearly labelled with the school name. I had clearly labelled every item of my daughter’s school uniform, the bus labelling made it seem the world might be straightening out. Maybe it was a simple happy place after all?

As I handed my nervy daughter  a tissue and straightened her pony tail yet again, the bus pulled up, and we observed the kids from a rival school pelting sweet wrappers at the approching vehicle. My daughter smiled bravely and clutched her freshly minted bus pass. I smiled nervously, and studied the fearsome girl standing beside my daughter  in the queue. This girl wore a slip of a skirt,  too much make-up, and funky silver earrings in the shape of an ‘A’ . I had read the uniform regulations many times and none of this seemed right. There would surely be a request for her to wash her face, a letter to parents about the skirt, and if the earrings passed the rule as  ‘small studs’ there had to be  some small print about  subversive anarchist designs.

How would my delicate daughter cope in a world of cool kids wearing short skirts? She insisted on trousers not skirts, she had never tried make-up, and her ears weren’t even pierced!

My daughter got on the bus as I gritted my teeth into a grin and forced a cheery wave. She didn’t notice because she was chatting to a friend from her old school. I headed home.  I had to work, I knew what I had to do that day… Oh no I didn’t. How could I work? My daughter was eleven and someone had decided that was old enough for Big School. What to do… I  ruled out online petitions and letters to MPs,  I really did have to work. And I had an idea! Earrings.

In London on October 2nd there will be a poker tournament for women, I will be organising this and handing out goody bags to all those who win seats in online tournaments. In these goody bags there will be some playing cards, ‘PokerStars’ t-shirts, umberellas, binoculars (don’t ask) and I decided there would be some poker earrings too. This is what happens when a worried mother at a bus stop is put in charge of poker things.

I needed to distract myself from worrying about my daughter lost in a maze of classrooms… How many classrooms would there be for more than 1,200 school kids?  Where was I? Oh yes, distracted… So to stop myself being distracted I looked up jewellery designers. I thought about pendant necklaces,  rings, dangly earrings as opposed to studs. And what about gold instead of silver? The day somehow passed until it was 3.15pm and then I could wonder if the phone would ring, worry that she might have lost her bus pass, hope she hadn’t forgotten that the number 902 would bring her safely home.

I remembered her first day at nursery. I’d felt lost without her then. I hadn’t worked so I’d played hold’em poker tournaments until it was time to pick her up.

I’d got into poker when I’d seen Victoria Coren playing on Channel 4. I wanted to be like Vicky, she was posh and charming and smart. I loved watching her beat the men at cards. This was a game of wits, and she was pretty and witty – but not gay. At least I don’t think so.

It wasn’t a game of wits when I played, I was witless not witty. I was bored, at  home with my new baby and I didn’t understand poker’s rules properly so I played the free games at PokerStars. I played all the cards I was dealt and clicked random buttons. If I clicked the wrong button  I could pretend it was all a clever bluff. Vicky Coren bluffed sometimes! I would  breastfeed my daughter as I played, raising and folding while chatting to poker geeks in Scandinavia. They had no idea I was half naked in this most unsexy way. I would spray milk at their online avatars. Take that BigGuy482 from Stolkholm… I raise 200 plus a splattering of foremilk!

I didn’t do much except visit playgrounds, do the nursery pick-up and play online poker, and when I saw an email from PokerStars looking for customer support staff I applied.

I got the job.

I won’t bore you with my whole career path, but somehow I went from support email answerer, to being the poker blogger  writing about the day Victoria Coren won £500,000 at the London EPT. Then years passed, I had another baby, I took maternity leave, someone else took maternity leave which meant a new job marketing poker to women. And here we are with the earrings in the goody bags…

My daughter came home from school (on the bus, all by herself!) and it turned out she’d had a great day.

“Mum, will you take me to the bus stop again tomorrow?”

I knew I had an early meeting, plus a backlog of non-earring related spreadsheet kind of stuff to do. (I wonder how that had mounted up?) But would I take her to the bus stop..?

“Yes, of course I’ll take you to the bus stop, no problem!”

A sigh from my girl. “Oh. I don’t want you to take me to the bus stop again.”

“Oh, okay.” Spreadsheets then.

“And can I get my ears pierced?”


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