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Bits and Pieces

Betting & Breasts - A Point of View
By Martin "Phwoah, you don't get many of them to the pound" Kelner on Mar 11, 2013 - 7:03:28 PM

Here is something about boys.   When we are about 13 or 14 years old, we will probably notice a female of our approximate age – it might happen earlier these days what with oestrogen in the water, insecticides, and reality television – blossoming quite spectacularly in the upper cardigan area.   When this happens, one of the gang – it was Frankie Hampson in our case, he was first on to the Rolling Stones as well – will invariably say something on the lines of, “Lummee, if I had a pair of those, I would never go out, I would just lie in the bath all day and play with them.”


Not very Guardian I know, but thankfully we mature, and by the age of, say, thirty-seven such childish thoughts are usually set aside.   Not always, though.   Poker player Brian Zembic is living the dream, he told Hardeep Singh Kohli in Channel Four’s three-part series about gambling, £50 Says You’ll Watch This.  


He has had a pair of 38c silicon breasts surgically implanted – that’s Brian, not Hardeep, whose own breasts are coming along quite nicely without surgical assistance - as part of a $100,000 bet.   Previous wagers have seen Brian living in a toilet cubicle, running through the streets of Philadelphia in women’s lingerie, and being masturbated by complete strangers (I am not sure whether that was a bet he won or lost).  


The breast thing arose from Brian’s complaint during an evening out with a fellow poker player that a woman with a prominent cleavage was getting better service, free stuff and so on, denied to the less generously endowed.   He bet his chum that falsies would work the same trick for him, which he says has come to pass.   As he told Hardeep, he has made a bra-load of money out of his embonpoint – chiefly, I suspect, from television companies, or from businesses trying to get him off their premises as quickly as possible.


“Do you want to take a feel?” he asks, lifting up his shirt.   “I don’t want to, but I feel journalistically I have to,” Hardeep answers, approaching gingerly.   “Go on, have a poke,” invites Brian.   “You’re good looking, but you’re not that good looking,” says Hardeep  


It should be said that travelling to Las Vegas and finding certifiable fruit loops to interview is not the most difficult task in TV.   It is not so much shooting fish in a barrel as shooting fish in a barrel clearly marked: “Barrel Full Of Fish Heavily Sedated And Waiting To Be Shot.”  


What turned £50 Says… into a winning hand was Hardeep’s likeability.   Here, for once, was a presenter with whom you actually enjoyed spending time; which was just as well as stretching the programme out over three nights was something of a folie de grandeur on Channel Four’s part, like George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, a decent single album stretched beyond endurance into a triple.  


At least the programme got to the table ahead of Louis Theroux, who has also been filming in Vegas, and will now have to see Hardeep and raise him to make a splash with his show.


Away from Las Vegas, Hardeep lost money at the dogs and on the horses, and looked into the world of novelty betting, attempting to back himself to have a Christmas Number One hit.   “Any other time of the year I would give you 100-1,” said odds compiler Rupert Adams, “But anything can get to Number One at Christmas.   Bob The Builder had a Christmas Number One.”   “Ah yes, but he could fix it,” shot back Hardeep.


Hardeep’s jokes just about kept the exercise in profit – on an American reality show he told the other players around the poker table the Bee Gees had written a song about him, Hardeep Is Your Love? – but they could not completely disguise Channel Four’s ambivalence about gambling.  


Hardeep’s trilogy, after all, was preceded by a Dispatches programme warning of a problem gambling epidemic in Britain and, uncomfortably in view of its jokey title, £50 Says… itself included the obligatory interviews with gambling addicts – significantly saved until programme three – and a helpline number at the end.   Bit of an each way bet, if you ask me.


Finally, thank you for the many responses to my tales of Leeds pub The Three Legs, which is stoutly resisting all attempts to turn the city into the Knightsbridge of the North.   Two readers have trumped me in the unreconstructed pub department with the County Borough in Rotherham, where a character known locally as Dapper Jack is often to be found “mine-sweeping,” that is collecting drinkers’ leftovers, pouring them into a pint glass and finishing them off.  


The name Dapper Jack, Lawrence James tells me, is down to his “shiny baggy arsed suit, off white stained shirt, once whitish trainers, and crooked dickie bow.”   Guy Holdroyd, meanwhile, a Rotherham ex-pat in New York, mentions Dapper Jack in connection with The Angel, famous for its “disco” in the eighties, which consisted of “a bloke with a tab-end balanced delicately on the tip of his lower lip, sitting in the corner of the boozer, playing scratchy Showaddywaddy records.”


Golden days.   Speaking of which, farewell to Grandstand, going gently into the dark night yesterday – on a Sunday, for goodness sake – after 48 years, with a lovely montage of golden moments, which evoked all sorts of memories, not just of Saturday afternoons in front of the telly, but, shamefully and more vividly, of Saturday evenings standing on street corners with Frankie Hampson looking at girls’ breasts.

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