Prompted by my own recent blog about going to the dogs, that's just what I did last night - for the first time in well over a decade. Down to Wimbledon (Tooting Broadway tube and a bit of a trek) - not a winner in sight - but a decent evening out. It's not exactly glamorous, never was, but the beer flows freely, the Tote's busy, and there are a handful of on course bookies very happy to relieve you of your earnings.
Well, there were three bookies there. Fewer than I remember at Harringay in the old days. The tic-tac men have gone - but at Wimbledon, where there's only one spot where the bookies put up their stands, there wouldn't really be any need for them. (Their job was to relay very quickly changes in the odds - because, say, somebody had put a large amount on an unfancied dog - to the other side of the track).
And of the three bookies, two - what a sign of the times! - had electronic boards displaying the odds. Watching them set up was a little like a roadie preparing for a gig, lots of plugging and unplugging.
There were a few serious gamblers there - not all that many. Quite a lot of young lads on a boozy night out. Couples. Some families with kids. And a brassy hen party intent on having a good time.
When I got back home, the kids were complaining that they would have liked to have seen the dogs race. So another visit is in order before too long, so the whole family can have a chance to lose their shirt on 'Rocky Bay Monica' at 9-4 in a 480 metre dash (Wimbledon track record for that distance, 28.08 seconds).
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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