Ruby Roberts - the lady billiards champion

Ruby Roberts

The Lady Billiards Champion

Diary of my travels abroad 1910-1911 (24)
Ruby Roberts, the lady billiards champion - Diary Entry 24

She (Miss Ruby Roberts) has just completed a series of games with Walter Lindrum, the young brother of the mighty Fred. When asked what she thought of the play of the boy, she replied, 'I think he is a perfect wonder for a 15-year-old boy. During the fortnight I played with him, he made twelve breaks of over 200, and this was more than either Fred Lindrum or Reece did in their recent games. No, he is not a one-shot player, but depends upon an all-round game. I think there is a great future as a billiardist for young Walter.' - MY LADY CUEIST (1914, July 28). The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1955), p. 7 (THIRD EDITION). Retrieved January 11, 2024, from

Jan 27. Was not very well so Mum made me stay in bed and had no practice that day. I received an invitation for the M.V.G. (Madras Volunteer Guards) Ball that night so I wrote and accepted. Mrs R called after dinner and took me for a drive along the esplanade which extends for miles along the coast. We pulled up at one place, got out of the carriage and walked down on to the beach, watched a catamaran or small native boat which they use for fishing. They had caught a small shark and there was a terrible lot of bargaining going on. Mrs R said they were very fond of shark, it was a great delicacy. We watched the natives take the catamaran to pieces. It consisted of five long pieces of wood, very thick and turned up at the ends. They seemed to be tied together with laces. Then on one side was an outrigger it is rather difficult to describe but it consisted of two curved pieces of bamboo attached to a large straight piece of wood, the two curved pieces attached to the canoe. Some of them had sails and when there were a number on the water they were quite picturesque. We heard that they sold the shark for four rupees. We then went for a walk along the foreshore and drove back to the hotel. I felt very much better for the outing. I had ordered a carriage to call to take us to the club where the ball was to be held.

He arrived at 9.30 and I asked one of the gentlemen at the hotel to direct our driver as I could not speak the language. Well we set off, but eventually found ourselves at the railway station. I tried to make the driver understand we wanted to go to M.V.G. but it was hopeless. I don’t know where he took us but we drove round and I told Mum to watch out for a white person. We were passing some bungalows when I saw three men come out of one so I called out to them and they came over. I explained our difficulty. They soon made our Gharry Wallah understand and he soon got us to the Club. Needless to say, we were very late getting there and when I explained to our host, he was very annoyed. He said he wished he could get hold of the Wallah; he would have given him something to go on with. Our friend knew all the time where he was to take us, but learning that we were visitors and not knowing the way, he thought he might as well take us a long way round to get a higher fare. They are very cunning. Mr Hunt wondered what had happened to us but knowing that I had a cold, he thought, I had decided not to come at the last minute. Anyhow he introduced us to a great number of people and I had every dance until supper, after which we returned to the hotel but we got back much quicker than we went.

Whiteaway Laidlaw Mount Road Madras
Whiteaway Laidlaw, Mount Road, Madras. TuckDB, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

(Jan 28) Had my practice as usual, felt very much better so we went to do some shopping. Whiteaway Laidlaws, being the largest shop, they seem to have branches in all the large towns. I forgot to mention, we had to report each morning at the Plague Office, for the first three mornings. After that, we were free to go where we liked. We went up on the roof garden to watch the sunset. They are marvellous in the East. There were alterations being made to the hotel and we watched the coolies working. The women do all the hardest part. We were very interested watching them. They carried the bricks in baskets on their heads, also long planks and it was marvellous how well they balanced everything. Needless to say, they all have wonderful figures, so straight and carry themselves so well. The better class dress in gay colours, they wear short full skirts and then a piece of material is draped round their bodies and the end is thrown over their shoulder, sometimes they drape it over their heads. We used to love to watch the women carrying the old brown pottery jars full of water on their heads. They walk very straight with their hands on their hips. There was an old pump at the back of the hotel and when they had finished their work, they would all stand round talking and laughing, waiting their turn to wash their hands and faces. After dinner we walked round the garden and went to bed early. Had a good night as had no bed fellows (fleas).

Hotel D'Angelis Early 1900s
Hotel D’Angelis Early 1900s, Madras. Giacomo D’Angelis, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

(Jan 30) Had my practice as usual and got on very well with Mum scouting for me. Mrs R called after Tiffin with the carriage and took us for a drive. We went to the Museum and the Zoo. There was not much to see at the latter, a few animals and a rather pretty lake with a bridge across and some rowing boats. But it was not be compared with the Royal Lakes at Rangoon. There was a good collection of monkeys and the keeper had trained them to do all kinds of tricks. We bought biscuits and nuts to give them and spent quite an amusing hour. On our way home we called at the D’Angelis Hotel, a very nice place with a lovely palm garden. We had ices and listened to the band. There are several pavilions scattered round the grounds of the hotel and some are used as dining rooms and at night they look very pretty as all the palm and other trees surrounding are illuminated with coloured fairy lights. It was most attractive. We had dinner there and afterwards, listened to music.

(Jan 31) Had my practice as usual and only return to the hotel there was a message to say a Mr Balthazar had called. I was annoyed as he said nothing about coming to Madras. He rang up and invited us out for a drive, so he sent the carriage for us about 4pm and we had a delightful drive. It was like old times and didn’t we have a lot to talk about. He had come over with Mr Yapp or Lord Yapp to give him his correct title, but he did not want to be addressed by his title but preferred to be called Mr Yapp. It was lovely seeing them again as I had missed them all very much. We went for a drive out through several native villages and on the way back we drove along the banks of the Silvery Cooum River and called at the Cinnamon Hotel (the best hotel in Madras) for drinks and got back to our hotel about 7pm.

Jack Balthazar was giving a dinner party that evening and we were invited. While we were dressing for it Mum discovered she had lost her purse with 5 pounds. We were very upset and hunted everywhere but could not find any traces of it. We were rather late arriving for dinner and Jack wondered what was delaying us, but when we told him what had happened he was very sorry. Of course 5 pounds was nothing to him but it was a big loss for us. Anyhow we tried to forget all about it and enjoy the dinner. We had dinner in one of the small pavilions in the grounds and it looked so nice. The table decoration were lovely. There were only eight guests. There was champagne but I could not have any as J R and Mum said I was too young. We did not finish dinner until 10pm so Jack suggested that as it was such a lovely moonlight night we should all go for a drive. So we went in two cars. I sat in front with Jack, Mum, Mrs R and Yapp in the back we sang as we drove along the esplanade. We had a delightful evening and I was quite sorry when it ended.

Mum was not too keen on Jack as she thought he was getting too serious over me and she didn’t entirely approve of his extravagance. I was told that he had already gone through one fortune left him by his uncle and he had just been left another fortune by another uncle, so he was having a good time and he certainly could not do enough for us. When we got back to the hotel we went through all our things to see if we could find the fiver but without success.

* The handwritten diary ends at this date, with no entry for it. Although the opening page dates are 1910–1925, the actural diary is from September 27th 1910 until February 1st, 1911, which makes it only four months of Ruby’s trip. The exercise book in which the diary was written continues with blank pages after Feb 1st. Maybe she began a new book and it might surface somewhere one day. – M.W.

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