You know how it is sometimes when you’re stretched thin, worn down, fed up and tired out…? You know when you just need a break? That’s the time when – what is for some of us – a secret vice comes into its own.
Watching snooker on TV just has to be about THE most surprisingly relaxing thing on earth. And when you’ve not got enough energy for the bright lights of the city or a party and you just want to hide away for an evening, snooker’s gently unfolding geometry is just about the perfect evening’s entertainment. And don’t underestimate relaxing – some people take it very seriously indeed.
Slip into a different universe
There is something wonderfully ceremonial about the way the game unfolds. It is like a slow-motion glimpse into another universe. The game most definitely comes with its own peculiar pace, as though gravity somehow works differently there. You have to slow down to match the pace of the game, as if you’re being sucked into a richly coloured hole in space (rather than a black one).
The game itself is simple and straightforward and wonderfully rhythmic. Put the balls in the pockets one at a time in the right order – red then a colour, red then a colour, then, when the reds are gone, yellow, green, brown, blue, pink and black, one after another. It doesn’t require any effort to understand or make any demands on you as a viewer other than that you keep your eyes open – and even that is optional.
But inside this warm and cosy wrap-around there is a competitive tension and a level of skill that adds another layer to the whole drama. If the gently rolling colours are not enough to ease your aching mind, there is the escapism of following the fortunes of your favourite player. The game might be played in a wonderfully cushioned hush, and everyone involved may be splendidly calm, but within their quiet cocoons the players are all competing tooth and nail to land the game’s big prizes. And they do win big money.
It’s easy to start to feel like you know the players involved, they’re always in close up. And there are such striking differences in the way they play – slow and cagey, safe and sound, or rock and roll racers like Ronnie – The Rocket – O’Sullivan. They all have different talents and they all have their fans, both amongst those of us who watch casually or those who put their money where their affections are and back their heroes at the bookmakers.
A perfect fit
Some games are somehow just the right shape for TV. Tennis is another one: boxes within boxes make for a game that is just perfect for small screen watchers. It is a wholly natural fit. And all that green is somehow deeply soothing. Have you noticed that the tennis from Wimbledon is somehow easier on the eye than the bright red clay or the blue plastic that they sometimes play on in other tournaments? Maybe that’s why it just feels so easy to come home, turn on, tune in and wind down when one of the big snooker tournaments is on. The perfectly smooth bright green of the baize is wonderfully serene.
When no news is good news
When you compare it with all the other sport around it is just so much more likeable. No financial scandals like in football, no drugs dramas like in athletics or cycling. Nobody gets hurt and no-one misbehaves – well almost no-one. Rocket Ronnie has been known to play without his shoes on…
But when the worst thing that anyone does is to ask if anyone can lend him a pair of shoes you know that your evening is not going to be interrupted by anything that will keep you awake at night.
Low key high drama
It’s that paradoxical combination of low key and high drama that gives snooker its particular appeal. When every other sport is running about jumping and shouting and pumping themselves up and doing everybody else down, snooker’s old world charm makes it the perfect companion for an evening’s relaxation.
If you’ve not tried it for yourself, it’s never too late. There are tournaments that run all year round and even if you’ve never even seen a game in your life, it will take no more than a few minutes to get to grips with what is going on. It could have been said ‘to get to grips with the action’ but ‘action’ is not really how snooker rolls – it’s much more relaxing than that.