I took me a while to find the right phrase to describe it, but then it finally came : a transit lounge. There is something spartan and utilitarian about the phrase, it does exactly what it says on the tin. And as with all transit lounges, people stood around, sat around, leaned around; waiting. Whatever pose they adopted, whatever way they found to pass the time, they were all waiting for the call. Every so often a big chap - who could well have been called Gabriel - with a voice that could carry an armchair, would come to the door and shout out a pair of names. Looks were exchanged, brief, British nods of farewell were traded and the pair in question would walk, limp or hobble towards the door that led to the next room and whatever waited beyond.
And while we all waited we exchanged looks and swapped emotions; each of us unclear whether our absence from the last pair of called names was a cause for rejoicing or disappointment. Nobody wants to live in a transit lounge. If you looked at the other faces carefully, you half recognised some of them. They were people you had shared life with, even though you may have never met them before this evening. Most of them were old, but the occasional younger face would drift through as though to prove that life was nothing but a stick of rock with uncertainty in blood-red words running through it.
Every so often, people would glance towards the door to see if Gabriel was ready to call another pair through. He would shout their names with a strange formality that fit in well with a transit lounge. "D Barraclough and P Webster", he would call, and a pair of men would detach themselves from a group sat around a table casually drinking old ale and head for the door. And as each pair departed, the room got a little quieter, a little more introspective. Maybe we each individually flirted with the idea that whatever was driving the call would become satiated, and we that were left could go home and sit in front of a warm fire and try not to think too much. But like all good flirtations, it was never meant to be.
"J Singer and A Burnett"
It was Jack and me. It was our turn. I glanced across the room at Jack and he gave me a barely perceptible nod of the head, as if to say "come on lad, no fears".
So we rose from our seats and went through the doors to take part in the Brighouse and District Domino League Knock-out pairs championship. And, in case you are interested, we lost in the second round.