“Will you drop me off at The Dogs later, Mum?”. 4pm. I’ve read The Racing Post, The Sporting Life, (Dogs Sections only), and walked later to get The Evening Argus, for Pat Kelly’s column.
5.30pm. “Mum, will you bring me to The Dogs in an hour?” (My jacket already on).
Now time to lift the tempo. It’s getting urgent.
“Mum, if we don’t leave for the track soon, I’ll miss the first” (I’ve got one lined up in the opening A12 (yes, they had A12s then)).
Arrive at track. Dropped off on the corner, next to the supermarket.
Must now get past security-man and possibly even blag in for free with an Owner (EVERY PUNTER’S LIFE-MISSION).
The first turnstile on the left is the softer-touch. Let’s try there first.
Yes. In. But had to pay the 2 quid. Fucker.
First stop – Norman’s betting-shop. I’ve got a tenner to collect; that’s my ammo for the night.
The kennels are on the left. “Dry & Devious” is there, as usual, chain-smoking, with some other kennel-hands. They’ve all got ambitions to go it alone. Who’ll make it happen though? The smell of the dogs on them, engrained more than the fags; testament to their ambition.
Dogs are trialling. George Curtis is watching. As the hare starts spinning, he glances at me and nods. That’s a good gee-up and start to proceedings anyway, Blog.
Do a right. Walk straight past all the foreign-students, who are always milling about in the amateur area of the terraces. Let’s get to the action.
Bo Brown, on the left, last pitch on. A tough pitch for the boy from Southampton. The outsider of the local Bookies. But with his brothers; blonde and silent Guy, and cocky Matt; they make a firm. Lacking the Hove Guile, but clearly good workers.
Charlie Miller. His own man. Wasn’t going to change for anyone. (And never did or will). Ready to ruck.
John Poulter. Established. Knowing and respected. Fat Roger tic-taccing and in awe of him (but learning all the time and waiting his turn). Always a steely aura around this firm.
To my right though, there’s a little team counting some readdies. What are they up to? I think they’re in with one of the new trainers. What’s been waiting all week, Blog? Maybe, later on, we’ll tail ’em for a bit, shall we?
Moving on: Brian Clarkson. A patient Bookie, the game happening around him. Play coming to him. Then, Del Sears. Nice guy. Grafter. Has a bit of a go. Works with the wife (the Punters like her).
Dave Peile. Flair and charisma. Pulling the prices. A sheen and opinion that connects with The Punters. A money taker. The other Bookies, always with helpful little comments about him.
I fancy the 4 dog. He’s a bit screwy but quicker than these. 5/2 painted. Hang on, Blog. Hang on, a sec. Charlie Miller’s gone 3 it. Where’s Morris, the old boy? “Morris, Morris, put 3 quid on the 4 dog with Charlie for me.”.
Bet on. Bubbles, his kind bag-man, gives me the nod. And Morris returns the ticket to me and my pocket, which contains the other 7 quid of gun-powder.
Ian Rice, the sp man. Immaculate. And with eyes darting everywhere around the Bookie’s boards. Loves a conspiracy.
To my right now, on the terrace above the winning-line, there’s the guy who makes notes on the Seasons of all Bitches. Pages and pages of it. He’s intense and shouts “You gotta know your Bitches!”, when he backs a winner. I never know what to make of him.
They’re all out tonight. Trophy night. Owners in suits, or jackets at the least. That bit more cut in the air. Maybe they might get on the podium with their dog and trainer, and to have a little touch in the ring too? Well, that would be just perfect. That would make the weekend.
A community. In action, all around me. With the united goal of somehow getting ahead. Somehow, finding THAT little edge. But respecting each other and what they each had to do. THE SCHOOL OF LIFE.
In other news:
Ben’s Food Vlog 53, Hove Greyhound Stadium, Neville Road, BN3 7BZ. WEB SITE Fantastic viewing (of the racing and and an eagle-eye over those Bookie Chaps). A good value dinner. Tangy tomato Soup (NB). Christmas Pud (NAP). A slightly biased 8
Over and out, B x