My mate Roger is doing something today that I have never done! Despite me once being far more interested in what he is about to experience. Roger is going to the races! He's off to Sandown Park for a day out with his in-laws.
During the 1980s, I was fanatical about horse racing, specifically flat racing. I followed it like the handicapper follows an improving horse and there were a few people who trusted my instincts and tips. I even won over £1,000 on a Classics Super Yankee in the mid 1980s - all for a £2 stake. But, lack of time and money meant that I rarely bet and I eventually lost interest in racing. I had my last ever bet on the 1992 Grand National - picking the winner at 8-1; I have never been in a bookmakers since. I never got to go to Newmarket or York or Ascot; I didn't even get to Towcester...
So, I'd be lying if I said that there wasn't a tinge of jealousy with Roger today - even if he's going to see a sizeable chunk of his wallet disappear even before he thinks about having a punt.
Because he knows nothing about racing and I did. He figured he'd ask me for some tips. Really the only tip I should give him was - don't bet; but after a long and careful study of the racing form this morning, I ended up giving him 3 tips for Sandown and 1 for York - which will be televised at Sandown.
The horses were - Jeninsky (an each way bet) in the 2.55; Burning Thread (another each way bet) in the 3.30 and Channel Squadron to win in the 4.40. I also tipped Mingun Bell in the big race from York.
You can see how crap I am now as a tipster!
Ploughing through my compilation discs, I reached '1966', which despite it having Frank Sinatra's classic It Was A Very Good Year, wasn't. I'm sure there were lots of great songs in '66, but they weren't included on this disc. I suppose I sort of expected proto-psychedelia, but got Herman's Hermits instead...
Big night tonight and I find myself in an unusual position... The World Cup and Euro Championships have traditionally been a time for congregating at a mate's house, huddled round the TV, biting our nails to the wicks. But because of the way things have turned out, I will be watching the USA game on my own.
Omen time... The last time I watched a match as important as this on my own was the England v Holland game at Euro '96. England thumped the Orange men 4-1 in what was, until the 5-1 thumping of Germany, the best performance I'd seen from an England team since 1966... Read into that what you will.
The holiday was okay. Not rubbish, but not brilliant. I have had far worse weeks and gone away and spent shitloads of money. It helped that the cruddy week was book-ended with nice weekends.
I rounded the week off having a drink with a good friend who I hadn't seen for 6 months and was aghast that so little had actually happened in the last 6 months. I made the comment that when we were younger lots of stuff happened in 6 months and it just made me realise that we all become unadventurous and some other things that I've got too old to remember...