The least favourite aspect of my job providing content for Star Sports is the amount of time I find myself spending online. It is a necessary evil; twitter especially is an invaluable tool to promote the content that we come up with. The trouble with a lot of screen time engaging with social media is that it becomes normalised. There are some wonderful people that share their views to interact with – which can make it a worthwhile experience.
Sadly, those highlights appear to be drowning in fetid quagmire of narky, nasty, negative posts. These from people who you’d cross the street to avoid in real-life, if you knew who they were. Worst still, it comes from professionals, respected even in some circles, the only saving grace is to pity them and their seething which you suspect comes from an unconscious insecurity and self-loathing. I wouldn’t want to spend too long in their headspace, or indeed cyberspace with them, often being blocked is a blessing.
The absolute highlight of my job is the continuous steam of admirable characters I get to interview in the course of creating the #BettingPeople series I’m part of https://www.starsportsbet.co.uk/betting-people/ Since it started, I have had the pleasure of meeting people from all aspects of ‘The Game’. I confess that in my early days, after interviewing successful people I often used to do a bit of soul-searching wondering where I went wrong. I now just feel privileged to have met them and try to take inspiration from everyone I meet, after all I maybe knocking on, but hopefully the fat lady’s not even warming up yet!
A recent interview has made a real impact on me. I won’t name the interviewee or give too much away at this stage, but he’s a professional punter. A very successful one too, beating the bookies for almost 40 years. I left his house mentally elated. It won’t be for the reasons you are probably guessing. During the afternoon I met two house guests of his, young men and both refugees. These two gents are just the latest in several people who my interviewee and his wife have homed when in need. Some of the stories I heard of how these men had to leave wives and young families in fear of death then take extraordinarily dangerous routes travelling to safety literally brought tears to my eyes. The paradox was, the house was filled with happiness and laughter, the ambiance was one of joy, kindness and hope.
As I bid the household my farewell, four excellent interview parts were safely stored in The Cloud. My interviewee had gone into some detail into how he has beaten the bookmakers with some advice for punters wishing to emulate him, mixed with entertaining anecdotes. In short, the sort of #BettingPeople content I was after, but as I made my way to the station in the rain, the laughter in that house was still ringing in my ears.
I boarded to the packed train, found my reserved seat, facing backwards despite my request for forward, my ample neighbour spread out, legs akimbo making no attempt to give me some space and the chap opposite barking loudly into his phone. It reminded me little bit of the maelstrom that can be twitter. Indeed, in the past those circumstances may have had me rummaging for my phone to add to it having a moan up. Instead, I sat there feeling as if I was alone under a clear blue-sky, bathing in a warm glow of contentment.
I’m still in that frame of mind and long may it last, it’s all about the company you keep.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring