four of a kind

It amazes me the tiny towns literary festivals tend to pop up in.  I spent the afternoon at the Woodstock Literary Festival.  Woodstock, of course, conjures up in my mind thoughts of the Woodstock of 1960’s fame where the iconic images of the sex, drugs, and rock and roll revolution were born.  The Woodstock I found myself in today is a small town near Oxford.

I only came to the festival to sit in on one event.  Over the past several weeks, I have rekindled my interest in online poker.  I’ve begun playing in the Saturday 14.15 (U.S. Time) poker tournament on PokerStars.com. Some way or another, I came across the name of Victoria Coren.  A trip to Google sent me over to her website.  Her beauty, words, and poker prowess immediately caught my attention.  A few more searches and I found her on YouTube. I ended up liking her enough to buy both of her books – Once More with Feeling (which is about her attempts to make the world’s greatest porn movie) and her latest book, For Richer or For Poorer which is her poker memoir and the reason for her being at the Woodstock litfest). When I read on her blog that she was going to be here, I thought, ah, a chance to meet her in the flesh, so to speak.

I was shocked when I walked into her presentation room at the Oxfordshire Museum. I had imagined that she would have drawn a younger crowd.  I guess because of her affiliation with online poker, so when I walked into a room full of distinguished looking older men and women, I had to raise a MR Spoke eyebrow of interest.  But then again, I was just reading in the press about Russia’s decision to reclassify poker as gambling because as the Russian government put, poker seems to draw in the very old.

Victoria’s talk was captivating.  She told many personal stories, stories I’m sure must appear in her book.  Although she did not look as glamorous in person as she does on the screen and in print, she came across as very down to earth, someone who would be easy to make friends with.  I also picked up a few poker tips from her, which I hope will help my game.

I felt a bit grumpy afterward, so I stopped at a motorway service station to have a cup of coffee and people watch.  You see the strangest of characters in the service stations.  It was a good 30 min distraction before heading back home.

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