Last Friday's Poppies Trust Race Night was up to the usual high standard expected of us connoisseurs of safe, DVD-based, gambling thrills. Expertly organised by Martin and well hosted by Malc with just the right combination of conviviality and sarcasm, the pair of them professionally milked a rather disappointing turn-out for all it was worth. That said, I've attended plenty of race-nights at the old Social Club at Rocky Road where you could count the poppies-supporting contingent on your fingers, so this event, coming in the midst of 10 home games in a week was never likely to be a sell-out.
As ever, I felt that my evening would be just as usefully spent by simply walking up to the Tote table, opening my wallet, turning it upside down, shaking it violently until all that pesky money fell out, and quietly departing in time to see James Jepson on "Gogglebox".
Nine races. Eight runners in each one. I backed 2 horses in each race. Plus owned another 2 horses in one of the races, and part-owned a horse in the auction race. And all I had to show at the end of the evening was a couple of poxy second places. And we're not talking "Mad dash for the line...heart-pounding...photo finish second places" We are talking my horse tamely trailing, if not limping, in several lengths behind a horse that could actually race.
But still, it's all for a good cause, I type whilst gritting my teeth....
The evening did, however, have a moment of true comedy gold which was worth wading through a few hours of swearing at equines, and cursing other people's undeserved good fortune, and it came in the 4th race. See below.
I don't know if this will mean much to many Poppies fans, but the thought of the same horse being owned and run by Cyril Gingell and Dave Singh has kept me laughing heartily for two days now.
Anyone who knows Dave (and who doesn't?) knows that Cyril isn't exactly top of his Christmas card list. According to Dave, everything that has gone against our club, pretty much since 1872, and up to and including the annoying drum played by the Aylesbury fans on Saturday, is Cyril's fault. He has a point. Cyril was in charge of a genuine Poppies Golden Age of 2000+ gates and the club an inch away from League football, only to somehow squander all this and pave the way for dwindling gates, unpaid bills, relegation and Mark English.
Most of us have allowed age, infirmity and widening waistlines to mellow the fire in our bellies at the injustices of the past. But not Dave. He feels every old wound as though it had just happened. The pain is always immediate. It is as though he has no sense of "past". Everything to him is in the present moment. Imagine, if you can, a madly passionate, sometimes bearded, Indian Goldfish, and voila - Dave Singh!
The pain of past mis-deeds hurts him as much now as it did 25 years ago. When Dave demands to know, "Gingell - where did the money go?" you know he means it, and will continue to demand to know until the end of time. If not longer.
So, seeing the pair of them linked together on the same horse gave me a good chuckle. I can't say for certain where the horse finished in the race itself, but wouldn't be surprised if it was winning until the last furlong, when it suddenly eased off, throwing the race by allowing the others to pass it on the finishing line. Making damn sure it didn't come first.
There you go Dave - have that one on me!