Modern life problems. Months ago I bought tickets to see The Offspring in Cardiff, booked a nice hotel and a couple of days before the gig, non-refundable train tickets. My wife and I were excited to go, a night away without the kids. Then last Tuesday, on the morning we were due to set off, our youngest, little Monty, aged two, was poorly, taken to the doctor and put on a course of antibiotics so we didn’t go.

It wasn’t the end of the world, someone made use of the tickets and had a great time while I managed to rearrange our hotel booking. All good, with Monty back to full, causing mayhem, health.  We set off on Sunday for a belated night out in Cardiff. What a lovely city it is too, Christmas market in full flow and shops pulsating with festive cheer. The hotel was very comfortable, we quaffed mulled wine and enjoyed a nice steak meal. Proper job.

The next day, we had the morning to explore the shops before getting the train back to the shire. I was good enough to suggest to my wife that she could go on her own and I’d join her after 11am hotel checkout time.

Shopping’s not really my ideal pastime and she was happy to do so unencumbered by grumpy. I decided to spend my free time lounging on the bed looking at racing twitter for blog topic inspiration.

There was a fair bit affecting the lives of the racing world. There was the usual trumpet blowing from people letting the world know that they can’t get their bets on with various on-line bookmakers. An absolute disaster I’m sure we’ll all agree.

There was conversation about the use of drones to enable in-running punters that use them an advantage over those that didn’t have access to their or other fast pictures, it really does seem unfair, and I can see why people get so upset. Come on racing, fast pictures for all.

There was fury that someone in authority allegedly went on an Oliver Reed style ‘bender’ drinking his way up Newmarket High Street. You’d expect many in the racing game would be hesitant on throwing stones on that topic. True there were some humorous takes on the story, but others appeared to be outraged, quite right too, binge drinking is not good, Derby Awards aside of course!

Others were getting hot under their collars regarding the lack of runners in National Hunt racing. That is both in numbers contesting and superstars staying in their stables rather than thrilling us with their athleticism out on the turf. You can see why too, people that own horses not running them whether on advice of their trainers or not, it’s enough to get a head of steam up any jumping fan.

The list went on, I was spoiled for choice. I stuck them all in the back of my mind as I do and let my subconscious juggle them about. Usually by the time I sit down in front of a blank screen it’ll pop out of my head ready for the first draft. More pressingly, it was time to check out, meet my wife and continue shopping. Whilst we both thought Cardiff was a lovely city, we had noticed rather a large number of homeless people on her streets. Some were politely asking for change, others were shrouded in blankets or just staring at the world in silence. We did as most people appear to do, hurried on past – trying to pretend that they weren’t there.

After an hour or so we decided to stop for a coffee in one of the many coffee shops. As we perused where to splash out three quid or so a piece on a drink we were shocked to the core. In front of us stood a shivering emaciated man, dirty, literally wearing rags and grasping a thin blanket which appeared to be his only possession. He wasn’t begging, he was genuinely pleading to those of us rushing by to help him with some spare change. Change isn’t something we have as much as we used to. I had a solitary pound coin which I dropped into his outstretched filthy hand trying not to look him in the eye. As my wife and I headed off he called out, ‘Sir, may your kindness bring you luck.’

That knocked us both for six, he was wishing us luck. Neither of us could stop thinking about that comment or him for the rest of the day. When we got back to Devon, I contacted facebook group run by a lady that helps the homeless in Cardiff. I described him and the location to her, she knew him, he has a name and a tragic past. She went on to tell me that they have lost 17 homeless people in the city in 2021 alone, that is they have died.

Imagine that, in 2021 surrounded by a bustling shopping centre and currently a Christmas market blaring out songs of goodwill to all men, 17 people have been allowed to die in the streets as people hurried on by.

Anyway, isn’t it terrible the number of three-runner chases we’ve had recently.


Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.

Simon Nott is author of: Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring
available on Kindle