London is coughing everyone out onto the pavements at the moment. As I type from my quiet and thoroughly sophisticated corner of Mayfair, there are guffawing drinkers on the pavement beneath me, burping over beers and chucking back Sauvignon Blanc. Alas, the London Bluebird is caged in her exotic office for another hour and cannot join them.
My employer however, has joined them. This gives me an opportunity to have a gander at the racing bets for tomorrow. Not a racing person, by nature, I turn into a maniac over the Grand National. I usually win something – even if it’s only my stake back. Three years ago I won £50, ran out of William Hill rejoicing and was so stunned by my success that I fell over on the pavement outside the bookies, and landed on my face. A man who was about 90 picked me up.
My mother is currently in rural Dorset. The first thing I asked her when discovering she had abandoned the metropolis for the weekend and headed for the Dorset coast was “Yes, of course it’s lovely down there, but for God’s sake, woman, where is the nearest betting shop?” Presumably she would have to drive into Yeovil for her yearly flutter.
So far I have been advised by a leading bookmakers that I shouldn’t place my money on anything that weighs more than 11st 3lbs or that is over 10 years old (I am talking about the horse, not the jockey. This is not a race for children, kids) and that I should avoid the French and go British or Irish, even though last years outside winner at 100-1 “Mon Mome” was rather French. My husband backed him. The website also informs me that “nine is the new ten” a concept which has profoundly bothered me. If ten ceases to exist we will be plunged into chaos and have no decimal currency etc. Not to mention 2010 wouldn’t exist either. Although if I weight almost 10 stone, and that has magically become 9 stone, well, I couldn’t be happier.
Apparently they are talking about the age of the horses. It took me half of my lunch hour to work it out. I don’t know if they are talking in dog years, horse years, or cat years. All I know is the winner will have to go through the indignity of having a short rider spray champagne on its head and the loser is destined to end up in a tin of Whiskas. I am destined to spend Saturday morning obsessing over the Daily Mirror’s pull-out supplement on the National , make lists, withdraw life savings and just whack a load of money on the one with the nicest coloured hat.