They’re under starters orders…..
Sixty people packed into a shiny and spangly mighty Saints clubhouse (show me some blue & yellow table paper and instructions from Lisa Wood & I’ll show you an attractive table) for race night. Fear not; no equine hooves were set to gallop across the hallowed turf. These were races on the big screen. It was the inaugural fund raising event for Stand By Your Saints, with Gaz as event organiser in chief, backed up by an assortment of Committee members, tolerant partners and all round good people.
We had Norwegians, TLF’s mum & step-dad, an enthusiastic crowd, a well stocked bar, planned refuelling in the form of meat & veggie chilli (bubbling away in the biggest collection of slow cookers that Hertfordshire has ever seen I warrant), we were festooned with the best collection of raffle prizes ever….what could possibly go wrong?
Well, you could put TLF and Lisa (that’s Gaz’s missus Lisa, as opposed to our erstwhile programme editor’s missus Lisa who was like a one woman raffle ticket flogging machine) in charge of the Tote…….
I did point out, “TLF does words not numbers, that is why you made me secretary to the SBYS committee NOT treasurer.” But my protestations fell on deaf ears. Lisa and I were duly introduced to Craig, the man behind the race night kit. He didn’t look too confident at the choice of bookies either. But being a professional he put that aside and talked us through how we sell the horses (pound each) and how we work out the winnings per punter. I am sure it is in theory easy. But it still involves MATHS. And in my experience MATHS skills are not enhanced by brandy and coke (Lisa) or bottled German lager (TLF). Also it had been sprung on us…we are artistes (of a certain type that wouldn’t get through your fire wall)….we like to prepare.
Still it’s all for charidee, so we ask Craig to write down an example, cos if we have a case study to refer to, I am sure we will be fine. He obliges and then walks off with the crucial paperwork. Triffic.
To instil some confidence I put my glasses on. Lisa assures me that they make me look very intellectual. I’d have liked it if she said I looked like a mathematician, but hey any port in a race course, and for a pair of €1.50 glasses from the Amsterdam flea market I think that is a pretty good return.
Clearly the punters are taken in by the specs (or maybe it’s the booze) and are keen to splash the cash with that well known bookmakers; BET-LISA-n-TLF-Paddy-Hill-Power-FAIR. For the calculation of the first Tote we are supervised by poor Craig (poor not as in skint, but poor as in cos he is having to deal with the partners in crime who don’t do maths) and so we are confident.
AND THEY’RE OFF!
The first winner is Sumo Lad (I think).
So that will be
with £16 each.
After we have handed out £16 to our first two winners (one having bet on the same horse twice)….the winning punters keep coming and we realise that TLF (and it was just me I will confess) has got it a bit wrong. It’s actually
with £3 each.
TLF bangs her head softly on the bookie’s table & despairs, Lisa cracks up with laughing and the ‘lucky two’ show their love of SACFC by returning their excess ‘winnings’ once TLF’s financial eff up is explained (thank you again….).
After that we exercise more caution and the punters exercise less; proving TLF’s theory of relativity-mathematical-bacchanalia, i.e. The amount of money spent is directly proportional to the amount of booze consumed. My only remaining faux pas is to give a very duff tip to a very distinguished older gentleman who reminds me of Vinnie Jones. Reminds me of said ex-footballer and now Hollywood star, cos turns out he is Vinnie’s Dad. He is lovely, ribs me mercilessly about my schoolboy TLF turf-accountant errors, is very generous and give us all a big hug when he leaves.
The rest of the evening passes in a blur of banter, pound coins, fifty pound notes, brilliant conversations with Lisa and the eye-watering news that Eggy has not exactly savoured the bottle of Tattinger he won in the raffle. There is just time for a quick Madness inspired (the band not the mental health issue) turn on the dance floor with mummy TLF before we decide it is way past our bedtime. We meander our way home in the rain with TLF eschewing an umbrella in favour of clutching her two bottles of booze (one a very kind ‘thank you’ for my Tote efforts & the other a fine bottle of wine which the Norwegians insists Eggy donate to someone who might appreciate it).
The TLF social calendar was double booked for this particular evening, via Mr TLF who had been invited to a private view at the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings of a John Bratby retrospective, Mr Bratby being a favoured artist of us both (he even painted a fox which Mr TLF purchased for me). It had been trailed on Radio 4 no less and to go would have been fantastic and Mr TLF told me that indeed it was; meeting Bratby’s family and telling them about pictures he owns that they didn’t know about. It would really have been amazing….but so was a night in our clubhouse with very generous people, raising £1500 for SBYS.