Showing posts from March, 2012

The morning after

It was always going to be messy. Even before Paddy arrived to savour the final moments of his Fantasy Festival victory with double malts all round, we had made alarming progress through the Barley Mow's real ale selection.  My head the next morning testified to the damage done by successive Doom Bars Glenlivets and Ardbegs. My phone testified to the struggles of getting home. A text to Bryn sent sometime late that night says, "Couldn't get off Euston tube platform. Couldn't work out where I was trying to get to." I do have a recollection of this. I'd tumbled out of the tube at the right station. But staring blankly at all the signs, arrows and information, my brain couldn't process any of the information. I simply stood on the platform waiting for a revelation. I've only done that journey about three thousand times. Evidently I did make it home. Mrs A says she heard me bouncing off the passage walls; fumbling, dropping and then finding the right

Never Enough

Freed of the discipline demanded by getting to the races on time, fed and watered, I found I was running late on Thursday. Despite the absence public transport rigours, wifi requirements and the like, it was 1.15pm when I left Waitrose with provisions for the night's meal safely stowed. That was cutting it too fine. And yet there were still people arriving, waving extensive shopping lists, plus a store full of people behind me. There was no way they were going to get back for kick off at 1.30pm. What were they playing at? Well, that was their problem. Finally I was settled. Home comforts I love Peddlers Cross to bits. He gave me my biggest single winning bet when he landed what is now the Neptune two years ago. But there is clearly something amiss at the moment. The problems incurred in the Kempton race when trounced by Sprinter Sacre are obviously not yet resolved, although McCain is indicating a return to hurdles next season. But the winner, Sir Des Champs was deeply impress

Make or break

I got a good night’s kip once I’d worked out how to turn the air conditioning from its 2-minute-blast-3-minute-rest default setting to simply off. The fumbling for glasses and trying to read instructions through blurry eyes was worth it. Good catch up with Colin and Anne over an eat-as-much-as-you-like buffet breakfast, with RP, Schedule of Shame and smart phone with open betting apps spread across a six-berth table. Does the start to the day really get any better than this? Colin and Anne were heading home today, despite my best attempts to persuade them that another dose of festival mayhem would be equally as good for the soul as the previous day. They were willing (Colin more so), but commitments are commitments. We’d had a blast. Anne, Col, Nev Colin planned to be back in plenty of time for the opener on the box and was first in with his Fantasy Festival selections. I haven’t mentioned the FF yet this year. Bacchy’s genius brainchild of a punting competition, now in

Rock n Roll

"Do you think these shoes will be comfortable enough?" A blank look from Mrs A. "Wonder how many pens I'll need." Another withering glance. "Am I starting to babble?" I inquired. "I think it may be time to go dear", came the polite reply. So I did. And despite some appalling logistical barriers, I made it in time. Unfathomable queueing systems at Birmingham New Street and an hour long shuttle (term used loosely) bus crawl through Cheltenham led to a frazzled and manic arrival. Colin and Anne had only just arrived too. But Nev had rocked up in good time, cased the bars and bookies and even pointed me to the loos. I'm only on my 12th visit to the Festival! At one point we lost Col somewhere by the Guinness bar. Nev and I were shouting him at the top of our voices, blasting the ears of a group of girls nearby. We finally attracted his attention and he mouthed something in reply, but we didn't catch it. I could just about make out

Here we go!

I have been struggling to focus on the day job over the last week. It's always the same just before Cheltenham. The anticipation kicks into overdrive and my mind skitters like some free-spirited arachnid over the highs and lows of previous festival adventures. My unhealthy introspection about the ideal punting strategy usually reaches self-flagellation by this stage. Agitated fingers worry-beading over the imbalance between too many/too few ante-posts; shaky non-runner, no bet combinations; and too little/too much reliance on a day of race wagers. There are no cool-headed sure-handed bookie-beating plots here. An MRI scan (I've been watching Casualty again) of what passes for my noodle would resemble tail lights at spaghetti junction in stop-motion photography. I've been hanging on six day declarations and breaking festival news more firmly than a suction-cupped mountain climber cramponned to the ice scree. Every new festival tweet or web headline sends me fumbling to O


I’ve been slightly distracted from Festival preparations this week. Many reasons, I think, but the 40 th birthday bash on Friday night was a contributory factor. “Fancy dress” it said on the invitation. “1970’s”. “Hoho” I had replied. “I’ll just dig something out of the back of the wardrobe” I wittily replied. The same joke had been attempted by at least half the guests, it transpired. Humour is a shared experience I always say. I thought about going as Red Rum. But even the town’s well-stocked, overworked costume emporium couldn’t meet my exacting requirements for the right shade of chestnut coat and sheepskin noseband. So 2 nd choice was a barely passable tribute to Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne, complete with a plastic bat in my pocket for head-biting photo opportunities….of which, sadly, there are none to report. Mrs A had a startlingly good punk makeover and would have given Souixsie Sue a run for her money in an identity parade. Mind you, things nearly ended in di