jeudi 5 février 2009

London Milestone

Cette semaine, il a neigé à Londres et sur le reste de l'Angleterre. La perfide Albion n'avait pas enregistré de précipitations aussi importantes en 18 ans, provoquant un bordel monstre dans le secteur des transports, qui n'étaient clairement pas préparés à une telle deferlante. Aéroport fermés, métros en retard ou carrément annulées, bus rangés au garage, et embouteillages monstres. J'ai même été un peu déçu d'arriver à l'heure au bureau lundi matin : ma ligne de métro était l'une des seules à fonctionner à 100%. Bad beat.

Mon quartier, Clapham Common, s'est recouvert d'une jolie et épaisse couverture blanche (trente centimètres à vue de nez, pas mal, non ?). Les bonhommes de neige ont poussé par dizaines dans le parc. Un beau cadeau pour fêter mes 1 an de résidence à Londres. Un an déjà ! Je n'ai pas vu passer le temps, probablement parce je n'ai réellement séjourné à Londres que durant la moitié de ces six mois. Entre les sept semaines des WSOP à Vegas, les enchainements d'une ville à l'autre durant parfois six semaines consécutives, et tous les petits déplacements de six ou sept jours, mon acclimatation à la capitale britannique s'est faite à pas d'escargots. Après un an, je peux enfin dire que je me sens chez moi à Londres. J'ai pris mes marques. Les sorties à Soho, les restos à Battersea, les concerts dans les pubs, les visites chez les amis à Hampstead, Bayswater, Picadilly Circus... et ma géniale colloc' avec Gab, Johny et Tallix.

Un an à Londres, cela signifie aussi un an chez Winamax. On peut chipoter sur les dates, car j'ai commencé à travailler pour la marque au W rouge un peu plus tôt que cela, en décembre 2007 pour l'EPT de Prague. Mais c'est bien il y a douze mois que j'ai apposé ma signature au bas du contrat et que j'ai commencé à fréquenter les bureaux londoniens de la boîte. Un an... Je n'aurais pas cru tenir aussi longtemps.

En ces temps difficiles, où deux de mes amis les plus proches dans cette industrie ont brutalement perdu leur emploi du jour au lendemain, je ne peux que me sentir heureux de travailler pour des gens intelligents me faisant confiance, me soutenant et me laissant une latitude et une liberté inespérées dans l'exercice de mon travail. Une chose rarissimme dans ce secteur, croyez-moi.

En d'autres nouvelles, j'ai succombé à cette mode narcissique et idiote qui court sur Facebook en ce moment, consistant à compiler une liste de 25 choses à propos de soi-même. Voici donc, en anglais pour tous mes amis étrangers :

25 random things about myself

1/ I'm grateful for the education my parents gave me. They let me get away with tons of freedom, encouraged me, while teaching me some very important values along the way.

2/ I grew up in the country. My village had under 500 living souls and the closest school - and most shops - was five kilometers away. I loved my time there. If I ever have kids, I don't want them to grow up in a big city.

3/ I love food that is bad for your health, and vice versa. As a result, I gained a lot of weight since I started working in the poker industry.

4/ I'm a pinball fanatic. I played on almost all of the modern-era machines (those built from 1990 till today). At some point I owned three of them. I still own two at my parents, and if it wasn't for the lack of space, I would probably own one in my London house.

5/ I'm not a very good writer. My writing style is plain and boring, and I cannot express my ideas and feelings the way I'd like to. It's frustrating. I make up for that by filling my articles with bad (but funny) jokes.

6/ My most vivid memories of sports events are usually bad ones. Like the Lille-Manchester United Champion's League game in 2006, the World Cup the same year, or France-Bulgaria in 1993. Victories fade away in my memories, while defeats stick around.

7/ I played tennis at least twice a week between the age of five and fourteen. My father trained me. I was a ranked player for some time, albeit not a very good one. I had a very bad temper and was throwing the racket a lot - I lost so many games because of that. Again, my most vidid memories of playing tennis are of games I lost.

8/ I always wanted to be a journalist. I published my first hand-written newspaper at the age of 10. I wrote articles in the middle-school newspaper, and was chief-editor for my college's class paper. None of those were good publications. I failed entering journalism school in Spring of 2006 : this is when I decided I'd follow the poker trail. I guess you can consider me self-trained. Regardless, I don't consider myself a journalist. Journalists write about real stuff.

9/ This urge to be some kind of writer comes from reading a lot. As far as I can remember I always had a book with me. I buy more books than I can read.

10/ I'm worried about the future all the time. Both mine, and of the world in general.

11/ I have bad memory. All the time I introduce myself to people who already met me, and I had totally forgot about it. This is the main reason I'm writing a blog - to keep track of my own existence.

12/ Despite all the bitching, I love what I'm doing for a living and cannot think of another job I could be doing right now. In most part, I love my job because of the people I work with. I met people from all over the world, and cemented great friendships along the way.

13/ Contrary to most smokers, I never considered quitting. Whenever I feel bad about smoking, I just listen to some Bill Hicks routines about cigarettes. "Listen to this, non-smokers... It's important. Non-smokers... die... everyday. It's true !"

14/ I have watched every one of the 86 Sopranos episodes between five and ten times. And yet my favorite show ever is, and always will be The Wire.

15/ Actually, poker first caught my interest because of a poker-themed episode of The Sopranos. Five years after first watching it, I was watching the very last episode of the show in a Las Vegas hotel room, during the World Series Of Poker.

16/ Nowadays, I don't play poker that much. I don't have a lot of spare time, and I'd rather waste it doing something else, like playing Guitar Hero, reading or compiling useless lists about myself.

17/ Yet, I remain a poker enthusiast and hate if I'm not around when something big happens in the poker world - most recent examples being the Main Event final table, and Elky's WPT title at the Bellagio.

18/ Three times in 2008 I flew from one city to another to cover back-to-back tournaments with (almost) no sleep in between. One of those flights was a transatlantic one. I don't want to do it ever again. But I know it's likely to happen again.

19/ I don't believe at all in that "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" crap. Who seriously believes that shit ? What doesn't kill you can still hurt you pretty bad.

20/ People think I have a weird sense of humor, and most people cannot figure whether I'm joking or not. I like it that way since it allows me to often say exactly what I have in mind. Also, I believe that everytime you joke about someone, you believe at least half of what you said.

21/ I lost track of almost all the friends I had when I left Lille. But those who are still around are the best ones.

22/ I have developped tinnitus six years ago after too many years of going to concerts on a weekly basis. Since then, I can hear a strident ringing in my ears when I'm in bed, and heavy ambient noise hurts my ears. If I'm in a loud place, I'm likely to wear earplugs, or get the fuck out of here quickly.

23/ So yeah, music is (was ?) a big part of my life. I've been to hundreds of shows. I saw most of my favorite bands live. At Reading 2002, I saw the lead singer from Dillinger Escape Plan take a shit on stage, then spread it all over his white shirt before jumping onto the crowd. I was at the front of the crowd and barely managed to avoid him. Three of my all-time favorite bands are Led Zeppelin, Nirvana and The Pixies. But there's many others.

24/ Obviously, friendship is important. I'm not sure I value it more than love (like Arnaud does), but I'd say I sometimes rely too much of it. Too often I let my own happiness depend on the people I cherish, which often leads to embarrassing moments, memorable fuck-ups, feelings of frustration and self-despair.

25/ After a year in London, the city is starting to grow on me. I had a rough start here, but now I don't see myself coming back to France anytime soon. At some point in my life, I'd like to spend some time in the US.

Year two...

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