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Martin Kelner, Journalist, Author and Radio Presenter.
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Martin Writes..

How I was hacked, & gave a winner at Cheltenham
By Martin "look you, boyo" Kelner on Apr 10, 2014 - 4:43:24 PM

I am raging against the dying of the light, as recommended by Dylan Thomas.  


Old age, the great Welsh bard reckoned, "should burn and rave at close of day."   In his case this meant marathon drinking sessions and sleeping with a succession of eager female fans on a campus tour of North America, but medical advice - not to mention the lack of any published poetry - has more or less barred that route to me, so I am staving off dotage by enthusiastically embracing new technology.   For instance, I always use the self check-out.


Granted, it's probably not as much fun as a bunk-up in a Philadelphia sorority house, but I'm right down with the kiddies when it comes to swiping a jar of Marmite.  


Only very occasionally do I suffer from 'unexpected item in bagging area' embarrassment and have to wait for a helper.   Mostly, I just need the assistant to confirm I'm old enough to buy alcohol, which is easily done with my driving licence, and perfect recall of the West Ham forward line from the 1975 Cup Final.  On one occasion, though, my impressively speedy swiping was halted because the machine suspected I was loading up with more drugs than it thought I should.  


J.Sainsbury, you see, is quite happy if you buy one small packet of painkillers to deal with the inevitable headache of walking round his shop trying to find stuff, but buy two and he begins to worry you intend depriving him of a customer.   Mind you, I should have had a job fixing an unscheduled meeting with my maker with what I had in my basket, namely two packets of indigestion tablets.  


"Are these a problem?" I asked the supervisor, who explained that because they are from the pharmaceuticals section, checks have to be made.   "Yes, I suppose youngsters might get hold of them," I said, "And then you'd get gangs going round causing mayhem with their dangerously settled stomachs."


I can't say for certain, but as my sarcasm settled several feet above her head, and hung there, like Pele going up for a corner in his 1970s pomp, I was probably on my smart 'phone downloading a couple of tracks from Daft Punk.  


And there's a lesson for those of us trying to cling onto youth beyond our sell-by date.   I've been hacked.   I presume it's because I'm downloading songs, checking emails, betting online, and so on, in cafés, and other insecure places, that some scamps have got into my email and sent a message to pretty well everyone in my address book, asking for money.


The email says I am stranded in Greece, and urgently need money to settle my hotel bill, and pay for an urgent kidney operation.   Spookily, it's almost plausible as I have had some health problems, and am due to go into hospital for an operation soon.     But I have no intention of going to Greece for it, albeit the food might be better.   (What I don't understand about our health service is that the marvellous medical staff and science fiction technology can achieve remarkable results surgically, but no-one in there can come up with a piece of toast that isn't like chewing into a face flannel)


I have now had to try and reinstate my email with minimal help from Yahoo, and am busy writing to contacts to say that I am not in Greece, but feel free to send money anyway.   Disappointingly, despite the borderline plausibility of the spam, not one of my so-called friends rushed to send their bank account details.


The damage may have been done, I reckon, when I logged on in the pub.   What with the Dylan Thomas fast track to oblivion a non-starter for me, I intended to achieve similar via England's friendly against Denmark, although I have found a way of counteracting the usually suffocating ennui of England matches.


By the simple expedient of backing one of England's centre backs to score at any time, you can snooze through all the midfield nonsense and then enjoy a small frisson of excitement every time England win a corner or a free kick just outside the box.   On Wednesday, my money was on Gary Cahill at 10-1, and he had a couple of half chances early on.   But he continued to go forward for every corner, keeping me mildly interested until the final whistle, and as a night out, while it wasn't exactly Dylan Thomas, it beat staying at home tidying up my sock drawer.  


My other bet was on Danish forward Krohn-Dehli to score, at 5-1, and he had chances too.   You always get decent value on any opposition striker who doesn't play in the Premier League, which has worked well for me over the years.  


I still savour my triumph in an international against Kazakhstan in 2010 when I had money on Rio Ferdinand and on the opposition's Scrabble-busting Zhambyl Kukeyev to score, and both obliged.   It doesn't happen often, but the strategy has helped stave off coma through however many years of hurt it is now.


Finally, when it comes to the Cheltenham Festival, I tend to hold up my hand and say 'too much information,' like the kiddies do.    I can't compute it all, but if you're the slightest interested, I've got Vatour and Sizing Europe today.   If you're foolish enough to follow me, for heaven's sake don't do it in an internet café.

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