I was put on to The Racing Dictionary @TheRacingDicti1 when I saw a retweet back in the summer, I was a bit slow on the uptake as the account had been around for a while, but soon caught up reading the ‘back catalogue’ in double-quick time. Seeing the numbers of followers growing and the amount of interaction taking place on the back of the razor-sharp tweets, definitely #BettingPeople interview material I thought.
The trouble was the account didn’t follow anyone, let alone me, so my usual first immediate action of a DM wasn’t possible. All I could do was ask around on the racecourse and rummage around twitter looking for some clues.
There were lots of wild guesses going around but nothing concrete then I got a message saying that they know who the mysterious @TheRacingDicti1 is and although he was no way up for a video interview, he’d do an old fashioned written one, as long as I promised not to spill the beans. I turned up at the arranged racecourse bar not knowing what the fella looked like or even if he was a fella, but they didn’t keep me waiting too long before coming up and saying hello, we had a decent chat on a quiet day, here’s the old school interview.
SN: Who are you, and why do you choose to hide your wit behind The Racing Dictionary?
RD: I’m a big racing fan who watches an awful lot of racing coverage, a ridiculous amount to be honest and that’s where a lot of it comes from – hearing the same pundits and presenters saying the same things over and over again, hearing jockeys and trainers say one thing when you know fine well what they mean really….and the dictionary gives me the chance to have a gentle dig at that rather than throwing things at the television. As to hiding behind it, the original intention was for it to be a kind of racing centred version of the Viz Profanisaurus so it didn’t really matter who was behind it. It’s changed a bit since then though and as it’s got bigger it probably has been helpful that it’s anonymous.
SN: You say it’s changed, in what way?
RD: I guess in reacting to what has proved popular – a lot of the early ones were racing orientated nob gags and it fairly quickly became obvious that I was in a tiny minority of people childish enough to think they were funny so it has evolved into something that has wider appeal – to grown ups for instance.
SN: You are fairly gentle with your ribbing, but some racing egos are fragile – have you had any caustic response?
RD: Nothing that I’m aware of no. It is something that I think about though, in as much as I wouldn’t want to write anything that might really bother somebody. I’m not in the racing bubble but I hope the people involved either see the funny side or at least have thick enough skin that they couldn’t care less anyway.
SN: Has anybody you’ve ever ribbed followed you?
RD: Yes, several, but no complaints so far at least. I’m more worried about the people following who I know have got one still to come!
SN: And are there any big names that follow?
RD: Yeah, several of the top jockeys and trainers which is nice – although very few of them ever do any liking or retweeting – I suppose moving in those circles you’ve got to be a bit careful what you are seen laughing at. Same goes for the pundits and presenters I guess although some of them seem happier to stir things up a bit.
SN: Is there ever a time you could envisage coming out?
RD: Probably not now, no – I kind of think what would be the point, it seems to work ok as it is.
SN: Are there any topics that are out of bounds?
RD: Plenty! As I said I wouldn’t want to cause anyone any distress and there are loads of things that I wouldn’t feel comfortable about joking around with. In fact, to put into context how much, I put out a tweet about an expensive American flop called The Green Monkey a few months ago and literally about five hours later it was announced that he had died! What are the odds on that? Anyway, I was so worried that people might think I was taking the piss out of a dead horse I pulled the tweet!
SN: Why do you follow absolutely nobody?
RD: That’s been a conscious decision, I just felt that I wanted to put the entries out and let people make of them what they will. I do sometimes have to sit on my hands when people get entirely the wrong end of the stick about what one of them is about leading to discussions that go off at weird tangents but overall, I think it’s for the best.
SN: Are there any entries you particularly like and do you know in advance which ones will get most attention?
RD: The ones that get the biggest numbers in terms of retweets and likes etc tend to be the re-working of trainer or jockey quotes, I think because everyone who follows racing hears them all the time so they strike a chord. I normally have some kind of idea how they’ll go but you never really know. As I said my favourites are the childish ones and they never get much so I’m obviously not much of a judge. Of the cleaner ones, I was quite pleased with one about preparing Pufferfish which was a play on the old jockey’s favourite “how many winners have you ridden?” but not many people seemed to like that either!
SN: Where do the ideas come from and do you have a stockpile ready to go?
RD: Anywhere really, as I say I watch an awful lot of racing coverage and things pop in your head that can maybe be worked into an entry. Sometimes they are just instant and other times it’s an idea that sits on an envelope on my desk…..I should explain the envelope bit – when I decided to do it I started scribbling ideas down on the back of envelopes as I had some lying around and even now rather than buy a notebook I buy another load of envelopes – that can’t be sane can it? Anyway, some of them sit there a while until I’m happy with them, some of them have been there for months – normally because they are a bit out there and I can’t decide if I’m the only person in the world that might find them remotely funny.
SN: Give us one of them then…..
RD: Yeah, and what happens when I’m right and it WAS only me…..right, ok “Eddie the Choux – Punter, pundit and hugely overrated pastry chef”.
SN: Yeah I think that might be just you that one….
RD: Well that’s the problem you see if I put it out and it just gets tumbleweed. I don’t know, maybe it doesn’t matter maybe tumbleweed is good too….To go back to the stockpile I got about 30 of them together to start with before my first tweet and I’ve tried to keep it so I’ve always still got twenty or so in reserve. Trouble is within that twenty there’s always a few that might be a bit risky or I’m not happy with the wording – and let’s face it one of the current batch was Eddie the Choux so I’m screwed really.
SN: Where do you see the dictionary going from here?
RD: I don’t know really – unbelievably nobody has bought the rights to publish it and a Hollywood film seems even further away than that so I guess I’ll just keep tweeting them on Monday and Thursday mornings until people get bored of it. To be fair I was discussing it with a friend a few weeks in and put the top end of my spread quote at 1,000 followers so it’s already done a lot better than I thought it would.
SN: Final question, despite the fact vitriol isn’t really your bag is there anyone you could just unleash more and more on? In other words, who is the biggest bellend in racing?!
RD: Haha, as if I’m going to answer that! There are a few that do my head in watching the racing channels but what do I know, the vast majority of them I’ve never even met. The ones I do like are more of a worry actually – I often think I should attach a message saying ‘No offence meant, I just liked the gag’. Too f**king nice, that’s my trouble.
Simon Nott was talking to ‘They Who Shall Not Be Named’ @TheRacingDicti1
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring