We had a fantastic view of the race track last night. Our table was right next to the window, overlooking both the finish post and the podium where the winning owners, with their dogs, would be presented with their trophies.
In short, the Nosey Parkers among us were well placed to see absolutely everything that was going on.
Mr B and I had been invited along by the Swift
Family to help Our Katie (our eldest grand-daughter) to celebrate her seventeenth birthday at the Brighton & Hove Greyhound Stadium. We are always up for a celebration, Mr B and I, so it was no surprise to anyone that we were there with bells on
(whatever that might mean.) OK, Our Katie does have to wait a few more days till her actual birthday at the end of the month, but I’ve never seen any reason why one can’t start celebrations well in advance and, if stamina and purse-strings allow,
continue them well after the actual Red Letter Day. Katie, being very much our grand-daughter and therefore a Girl After My Own Heart, agrees with me.
arrived at the Stadium, we were greeted by a team of Jolly People selling raffle tickets for Leukaemia and Lymphoma research. Katie’s sister Eleanor immediately decided to hedge her bets, quite literally, by investing in raffle tickets (her good old
Dad, he of the deep pockets, was obliging as ever) and was delighted when the sellers gave her an extra strip of five tickets because (they said) she had spent so much money. Throughout the evening, in the face of every disappointment, she would comfort
us all by reminding us that “There’s always the raffle.”
While enjoying our meals (the girls were immensely excited by the idea of
meatballs and spaghetti as a starter) we pored over the race programme trying to decipher the cryptic comments in the Form Guide. For example, what on earth do you think this means: “Successful debut on these
shores at Wimbledon, ping out and make all.” Is this dog a potential winner or a no-hoper? Or how about: “Unfamiliar draw but has a ping break in her repertoire, forecast pick.” I think I might like a job writing Form Guides, it would
release my Inner Tease.
It is far, far easier to pick out the absolute no-hopers. We are in hoots of laughter as we discuss the relative merits of Besomi
Hen (“Her form around here falls short of the standard required, easy x-out”) or Risky Pumpkin (“Useful but is probably biting off more than he can chew in this line-up.) But nothing (or, should I say, everything) can beat Roseville Bullet
– “Highlighting the positives isn’t easy, will be friendless in the betting ring.” It was doubtless his owner’s fault for calling him Bullet in the first place and so setting him up to fail.
Eleanor turns out to have a knack for picking winners. Cleverly she takes her share of the winnings picked up by her Dad but doesn’t share in the losses. “And there’s
still the raffle to come!” she gloats.
We decide that the most boring job on the race-course is that of the man who has to unroll a green carpet along which
the successful dog, owner and trainer process to receive their glittering prizes – then roll it up again after each presentation. One dog falls off the podium and in other circumstances this would have made me giggle but in the company of
two dog-loving grand-daughters, I restrain myself with difficulty.
We find time between races for Katie, the Birthday Girl, to open her present from us. She
likes it! Mr B and I exchange satisfied glances. At least our present appears to be a winner.
Over the loud-speaker someone announces the winners of the first
five raffle prizes. These are tickets in every colour except pink. No prizes for guessing what colour tickets Eleanor is clutching in her hopeful hands. We will have to wait until the end of the evening to check downstairs with the Jolly Raffle Ticket
Team if we have won anything. Eleanor is admirably unbothered by thoughts of failure.
We win a few races, we lose rather more than a few. In the twelfth
and last race we all put our money on Swifty Mac – what else, say the Swift Family? It would feel like treachery to bet on any another dog. The Form Guide tells us that Swifty Mac, running today in the orange coat, “usually comes out running over
this journey” which we all think is hilarious. What else would you expect? That he’d come skipping out of the traps?
It might have been better for
us if he had. Swifty Mac trails in an ignominious last. “Never mind,” says Eleanor the Hopeful, “There’s always the raffle...”
have to “visit the facilities” before we leave (it’s the Usher Gene, you know) so I tell the rest of the family that I will meet them downstairs at the raffle prize table. Even as I am descending the stairs on my way to join them, the girls
are waving at me frantically and calling up at me. They have only gone and won seventh prize consisting of four Easter eggs and a small cuddly toy of nondescript appearance. Apparently it was that extra, free strip that brought home the bacon.
Never mind the dogs, our family is surely blessed with Winning Ways.