Buy your own train!
Few men, or women, leave this world having provided pleasure to people in many countries. This claim can certainly be made for Victor Mollo who wrote Bridge in the Menagerie.
The stories it contains, originally published in Bridge Magazine and The Bridge World, found a world-wide audience in book form. Everyone can relate to the characters (the Hideous Hog, the Rueful Rabbit, Oscar the Owl, and the rest), the bridge hands are brilliant, and the stories themselves hilarious. This is the book against which all subsequent attempts at bridge humor are measured.
Mollo was born in St. Petersburg into a wealthy Russian family and was 8 years old when the revolution erupted. In order to return from a holiday in the Caucasus, his mother actually purchased a train, the defiant gesture of a dying capitalism. They steamed north across Russia, armed with forged Red Cross papers and some injured persons to add credibility. Thanks partly to a formidable sailor bodyguard, they survived a battle in Tikhoretsk and reached home. After an interlude in which Mollo was operated on for appendicitis, they crossed into Finland, continuing to Stockholm and eventually Paris and London.
Like many before and since, he neglected his studies to devote himself to bridge. He began to write books and articles on the game while working for the BBC as an editor in its European service. On retirement in 1969 after 30 years, Mollo expanded his writing efforts which at his death had generated 30 books and hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines. He was active in developing bridge cruises, largely in the Mediterranean.
His life style was perhaps unique. He would play rubber bridge at his club each afternoon, have dinner with his wife, and then work all night until he retired at 6 A.M. for a morning’s sleep.