The Captain of the Ship
Tat was there. He only now, previously having had four, has one tooth left. It holds onto his lower gum like a last stand.
Matt, like many bookmakers, required a dog to kick, post losing races. Tat ‘did the floor’ for West End Racing, and played that role for many a year. If there were eight winning favourites at the dogs, Tat knew he was in for it.
Somehow, by missing a price change from another bookmaker, not informing Matt of an earlier move in the betting ring, or possibly even breathing incorrectly, or at the wrong angle, it was unequivocally and undeniably, Tat’s fault, if a favourite had won that Matt had laid.
Oh, Tat. Poor old, Tat. How many times did you get given the treatment, old pal?
Lofty stood next to me. It felt right. It felt good to be there, after so many years, with Loft. Matt, a long term, and much loved, fixture in both of our lives. Time hasn’t waited around for any of us, and I would have thought that myself and Lofty were also being looked at by mutual observers, with them too thinking, ‘bloody hell, those two have aged a bit’.
The turnout was quite incredible. The crematorium building wasn’t big enough, by half, and paid testimony to a life lived to the full, the full on many fronts.
What was rather disappointing though, was the breakdown of the 400 or so mourners. Matt’s working life was split between not only his bookmaking interests, but also a security firm that he owned. I would say that there were approximately 350 people there from the security business, 50 family members, but only about 12 people from the betting industry.
As usual, the punting and bookmaking fraternity didn’t fail to disappoint, showing an intrinsic lack of class and respect. God forbid any of the hundreds of regular punters Matt served, or the dozens of bookmakers he bet alongside again and again, should miss yet another afternoon’s numbing racing, on their stinking settees, mindlessly punting, and gently pissing away a bit more money on the machine. And, of course, what would the air around them do, without being filled with their numbingly incorrect opinion on the said racing? I could name and shame, more than a few, who should have made the effort to show face, but, quite frankly, I don’t need to. Poor, chaps. V v poor. You’ve always got time for a bit more punter-talk bullshitting about the draw at Thirsk though, haven’t you?
As we left the building, the priest conducting the service was bidding farewell to the congregation, shaking hands with all. Lofty, to my right, was approached, and didn’t quite know what to do or say. He half looked at him, half nodded, and half touched the hand of the man, and meekly said ‘ta’. Matt, who certainly won’t be making the speedy-boarding heaven-queue upstairs, due to regular church worship, would have certainly smirked at this subtle and sweet moment.
Guy, Matt’s brother, the gentle one, was the first Brown to greet us. He looked at the top of my head and said ‘Ben, I didn’t recognise you. You’re a bit thin on top, these days.’. The Brown’s have always been an organisation that speak the truth. I shuffled along.
Ray Brown, Matt’s dad, is an old fashioned, English eccentric. He answers the telephone to all: ‘The Captain of the Ship!’. And then refers to the person he is speaking to as: ‘Commander’. He has a fabulous, Peter Pan style, humour and cheek. It was all gone today, though. A broken man. So sad to see. I begged him to just keep going, to just stay exactly the way he is. The whole experience had taken a huge toll on him, though. He said he felt it was time to ‘retire’. Ray, please don’t ‘retire’. March on, march on once again, Captain.
In other news:
It is 4.56am and I’m writing to you from Stansted airport. I may have an almost carnal lust for wealth, but I am not built for the jet-set. I am set in my ways, immovable, too bigoted, and too inflexible to be moving around at such an hour.
I rolled around all night thinking. Thinking about Matt. And thinking about the endless winning run of ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘Ruthless Eyes’.
‘Accumulation’ is a tactic and path that The Dark Knight has specialised in for his entire career. He has a momentum of accumulation that also applies to his gambling too, and is able to build long, long winning runs. He is eating into my mind. Breaking all the rules, and still winning and winning, he is twisting my mind. I rolled onto my other side again. I have been here so many times before. This is my life. This is me. I don’t know how to stop because I wouldn’t know what else to do anyway.
Until 2.30am, when I gently whispered into Belindabelle’s ear ‘You better get up and start having a shower now, dear.’. She rolled over, into my arms, and I then said to her ‘I haven’t slept for one minute’.
‘I know’, she replied.
‘Please teach me how to relax, Belinda.’
She just laughed a yawn, kissed me, and just said ‘I don’t know if you can’.
Our next stop is Sardinia, Blog. I need a holiday and shall report back to you.
A message from Bo. Please help if you can…
Hello everyone.. My eldest son Lewis is running a lap of the course at Fontwell (including a fence or two) to raise some money in memory of my brother Matthew and to hopefully buy a defibrillator for Fontwell Racecourse on the 26th may.
Any donations are of course hugely appreciated. You can donate at www.justgiving.com/westendracing or simply by texting “WERS76” followed by the amount you wish to donate to 70070.
Thank you all very much in advance.
Bo (West End Racing)