I’ll be honest, I have about as much interest in embroidery than I do in horse racing, certainly since the first year, where my mates at the time didn’t drink or do anything fun, just spend days down the bookmakers gambling on sport. After drifting away from them, I vowed never to spend more than 10 minutes a year within a bookmakers as those places are dull and depressing.
The 10 minutes a year is today however, as today is The Grand National. For the unaware, the Grand National is a huge clusterfuck of horses running around a hugely famous Aintree racetrack on the outskirts of Liverpool. It is impossible to predict the winner – as there are all sorts of tangibles, including massive hurdles and horses getting in each others way.
My mum loves the Grand National, which is probably why I take an interest. She used to tell stories about “how she watched Red Rum go round the track” and “We used to go to the ground the day after and help tidy up”, and ever since I can remember she used to drag me into bookmakers on a Saturday in mid Spring, to ask me to pick a horse. We used to get Â£3 pocket money, but that day we used to get Â£3.50. However, the 50p had to go on a horse. Sometimes I’d win, sometimes I’d lose. I remember one year as I went “25p each way” (25p says it’ll win, 25p says it’d come in the top 4), and ended up getting back 35p. I was delighted.
When I went to University, I realised why my mum loves it. Liverpool is hugely proud of the Grand National, go into any pub off the Liverpool Northern Line and you will see women dressed up, men wearing suits, and generally throwing around money that they don’t have. They don’t care, they love it, and are so proud of the event. Of course, throw in people like Guy, Z, Tom, Mike and some of my other friends from University who are known to have a flutter, then you’ve got events such as Silly Bugger Saturday occuring.
Last year was quite amusing too, as it demonstrated a real North/South divide to my brother. I won somewhere in the region of Â£80 on the horses, whereas half of Rick’s mates had stocks invested in o2, which was taken over on National Day last year, so they got a nice little bonus too. He said to us both “I don’t care, they’re both gambling!”. He’s right you know.
I seem to be on a bit of a roll at the moment, winning twice in the last three years. Of course, those wins were sandwiched by the loss on Silly Bugger Saturday, so the odds aren’t good (no pun intended) on breaking the chain. However, I have had a pretty decent record (certainly the best amongst my family and friends) at picking winners, so if you are to have a flutter – and want to emulate me – I am going for Longshanks and Joes Edge.
Are you going to put a few quid on a horse? If so, what you putting on?
If you don’t have an interest in today’s events, then tell me what do you like that is uncharacteristic for you to like?