Forgive my presumption but I'm
guessing some of you may like a bet.
I like to describe
myself as a social gambler; although I also describe myself as a social
drinker, and anybody watching me settle down for the Newcastle-Sunderland match
on my own with a large glass of red and a saucer of dry-roasted peanuts might be
tempted to ask, what's social about that?
I have been gambling a little more
since I joined these pages - in the cause of empathy, I tell myself.
I like to be at one with my
When I wrote for
The Guardian, for instance, I not only
took the moral high ground on more or less any issue, but made sure any bread,
rice, or sugar I consumed was incontrovertibly brown (first chap to come up
with brown salt will make a fortune down Islington way).
So in that spirit, I am now testing my
judgement against the bookmakers' rather more than I used to, and am grateful
to the Racing Post for that.
This is not because I have seen any
great financial benefit, but because my gambling is revealing deep truths about
me, saving a fortune in therapy.
If you could brush the toast crumbs from that couch, I'll lie down and
On Saturday evening I tuned into
the second half of the Castleford - Widnes Super League match, with Castleford
10 points down and 2-1 to win the match on Sky Bet (just checking odds out of
casual interest, doctor).
a rugby league follower of some vintage, and based on the first few moments of
the half, I was convinced Castleford could hit back and win, so decided to
filch a twenty out of Rupert Murdoch's pocket.
But instead of diving straight in
on my pre-prepared investment-ready super fast internet connection, I had a few
more peanuts, scrabbled round under the cushions for my 'phone, waited for the
wretched thing to connect, and tapped in my bet.
Unfortunately, while all this was
going on, one of Rupe's henchmen had the same thought as me, and shortened my
boys to 15-8 (the Sky boss, I believe, sits in a hollowed-out volcano during
these matches changing the odds, possibly while stroking a white cat) which I tapped
to accept, during which process Castleford launched a promising attack,
shortening the odds once more to 7-4, which again I was trying to grab, as
Castleford scored a try and I thought - pardon me, but honesty is important
here - bollocks to it, went and made a cup of tea, and hoped Widnes would hold
on to their lead.
This, I'm afraid, speaks of a fatal
lack of commitment that has blighted my life.
All the stuff about preparing to fail if you fail to prepare
that headmasters and motivational speakers dribble on about could have been
written for me.
Doing the minimum possible to just
about get away with it has long been my credo - from dropping out at University
to a lifetime failure to sleep with anyone who could help my career in any way
whatsoever - and it is only through contact with the acuity and sheer hard work
needed to gamble effectively that I have fully grasped the kind of half-assed
way I operate.
Thank you, Racing
My half-assedness is also exposed
by the way I pick horses.
this column and my Twitter account, I find I am now being tweeted by tipping
services, one of which recommended a horse called Lily's Run, competing at
Kempton Park on Saturday.
mother's name was Lily, but clearly a university-educated (limited period only),
intelligent, naturally sceptical soul like me would never do anything as crass
as back a horse because of its name.
Quite apart from the fact I have
children called David, Anna, Martha, and Ruth, and late parents called Alan and
Lily, and to follow their equine name matches would mean fiscal carnage on an
epic scale, I have long poured scorn on all sorts of superstitions.
The list of things I don't
believe in is long, from black cats and lucky lottery numbers to all the major
religions of the world.
I belong to nothing, and subscribe
to very little, apart from the British Film Institute and
yes, I backed Lily's Run, my reasoning being that if it has the right name
and I have a tip, it's worth backing.
See, I can't even commit to my lack of
As it happens, the animal came in
at 5-2, leaving me with a dilemma: do I continue to bet in my ineffective, dreamy,
disengaged, disorganised way, or do I put in more of the hard yards needed to
do it properly?
Watch this space.
One thing I do know is that
gambling does not make me sexy, despite what Betway.com, the latest betting
firm to saturate our screens with ads, seem to suggest.
Their latest is reminiscent of the old
Gold Blend coffee commercial; a man and a woman giving each other suggestive
looks, he loosening his tie, close up of her face, pupils all dilated, as the
pair recline on the sofa where, instead of enjoying impromptu congress - or a
cup of instant coffee - she gets her tablet out (not a euphemism), and he whips
out his 'phone.
This does not look terribly sexy to
me, but I grant you is possibly a mite smoother than having to ring your own number
to locate your device to get a damned in-play bet on.