The best laid plans of mice and, yeah, Saturday’s trip to the greyhound races didn’t go quite as planned.
So, all good so far.
On their arrival at our front door step, Roy seemed distracted - tense even, and Barb had a certain barbed edge to her (something was afoot, and it wasn’t any of their four feet). Anyway, to Monmore Green Stadium - we got there, five of us driving south in the Peugeot Enormobile.
As a kind of informal social marker for the evening, my taking a wrong turn into some industrial estate dead-end was immediately followed by our car being approached by a local prostitute – the kind who would, say, be so up to the eyeballs that the fact that our carriage contained a seven year old child (not to mention four adults) – seemed not to be a barrier to the thought of a possible economic (plus god knows what) exchange. We moved on, and got to the stadium just after the first of the evening race-card’s fourteen races.
Despite an initial buzz of excitement, by Race Seven, Emma had accurately gauged that Alex had absolutely nothing left in the tank and was not for being cajoled into lightening up.
So, things not looking too good so far.
Deciding to take a break with Alex back at the car, this left Shane looking and feeling the merry lemon – if not raspberry – as Roy and Barb seemed to be getting over their earlier frostiness towards one another.
So, increasingly awkward so far.
With my mind on the hour and half that lay ahead, Emma and Alex back (albeit possibly sleeping) at the car, Roy’s incontrovertible ‘Always number four’, and Barb’s recurrent ‘We should quit while we’re ahead’, I took her point literally and – after only Race Eight (of fourteen) – I suggested that it was a bit unsettling that Emma and Alex seemed done-in and that I’d be up for leaving whenever our guests were. And there, the trip to the dogs came to an early end.
Wonder loveliness and merciful merriment to the chap’ and his lady, they took it on the chin and variously amused Alex and me throughout the drive back. From the driving seat, I heard an amateur magic show unfold (Roy), along with a conversation about ‘favourite Harry Potter spells’ (Barb and Alex). It was impressive. To my left, Emma slept, but did not snore – ever the lady.
Looking back, there were learning points to be derived from the evening:-
1. It is important to not give children the impression that betting on dogs is just about going up to a counter and giving a middle-aged woman less coins than she gives you in later return. This is where unhealthy mis/understandings of gambling come from.
2. For youngsters (and partners), relatively late nights ought to be preceded by easy days and easy previous evenings, lest the late night may go tits-up before it’s got going. This is where avoiding frustration would come from.
3. Photographing dogs with a mobile phone is tricky – especially where one seeks to do this discreetly and in the pouring rain. This is where pneumonia and waterlogged phones come from.
4. As grim an experience as I fear it would be, the hospitality package (‘delicious three-course meal’) may be the best formula for visiting the greyhound races. This is where getting seats would come from.
5. Taking time to properly print out directions or get a SatNav might be a good idea. This is where not running in to wet prostitutes (rain) would come from.
6. Seeming to be terribly embarrassed and quietly frustrated by a plan that could have gone so much better can pay dividends. This is where the delivery of a Sunday afternoon rhubarb crumble from next door comes from, and so very much appreciated was it.
So, no real harm done so far. But heck, R&B are our still-new neighbours, I’m sure that some cack-handed DIY or gardening exploit will enable me to piss these people right off.
It’s late, and my week ahead looks horrible. If you will excuse me, I will fall asleep to thoughts of ‘What would I call my greyhound, were I a racing dog owner?’
‘Sleepy Gambler?... Patient Chaplain?... Crumble Queen?... Lordy It’s A Pro?...’