Norton of Morton

Read a new instalment of Norton of Morton every Saturday at 4 o'clock

Saturday 18 March 2017

Odds stacked in my favour

In which G.M. Norton wins on the horses. 

I had a flutter on the horses this week. I don’t usually partake, other than the Grand National but I arrived in the office to be told that a horse was running in the Cheltenham Cup called Fox Norton.
Well, that was too much of a coincidence to pass up. Not only is there the obvious Norton link but my beloved’s family name is Fox and I’d had a meeting was a fellow with the surname Fox only the day before. What’s more, the red moleskin waistcoat that I was wearing features a fox on one of the buttons. By this point, I was convinced that I would win oodles of money and was already planning what to spend my winnings on.
I don’t really understand betting odds too well, unless it’s simple ones such as 9/1. Which thankfully, were the odds on offer online for Fox Norton.

Preferring to place a bet in person rather than electronically (I suppose the idea of collecting my winnings in physical form was the main reason), at lunchtime I toddled over to the bookies armed with a crisp £20 pound note. Rather than lump all £20 on the win, I decided to be a little more cautious, with £10 each way. That way, if Fox Norton did the unthinkable and didn’t emerge victorious, I would still receive a payout if it finished second or third.

At this juncture, it would only be fair to admit that I had an ulterior motive for going to the bookmakers in person. You see, the last time I set foot in a bookmakers was for the Grand National a couple of years ago. That day, my beloved and two daughters were waiting outside, for fear of their ears being exposed to profanity. Being the aspiring gentleman that I am, I boldly stepped over the threshold to be greeted not by blue air but by a fellow offering me biscuits and a cup of tea. Explaining that my brood were stood outside, they suggested that I bring them in to enjoy refreshments as well. Realising that my beloved would still not be keen on the idea, I downheartedly rejected their advances. So that sorry episode remains the single time in my life where I turned down a biscuit.

Keen to rectify this now, I ambled into an establishment called Betfred. Here there was no biscuits being offered. I was disappointed, I must say. Ready to leave immediately, I checked the odds first to be informed that the odds were 8/1. Less than online. I moved to another betting shop further down the road, Coral. I was surprised that a Liverpudlian band had moved from making music to making money, but there you go. I used to be a big fan of Coral, with their first two albums in my collection. Alas, none of the band seemed to be around. What’s more, no biscuits were being offered there either. Disaster.
The odds were the same as Betfred, 8/1. Making my way around a throng of pot-bellied men that smelt of bacon crisps, I sauntered over to the lady at the counter and breezily announced my intention to place a bet. She looked at me, clad in dicky bow, bright red waistcoat and tweed jacket and could see that I was a newcomer to her premises. Undeterred, I handed over my money and a betting slip was thrust into my hands.

It was exciting waiting for the race to start at 3.30pm. By coincidence, this time also happened to be when I took a five minute tea break. So, what happened?

Well, my horse did rather well. At times, it looked as if it was going to do it, and at other times it seemed like it needed to get a shifty on. Towards the end, it seemed to realise this and did just that, galloping past one horse, then past another. It was practically neck and neck with the horse that had led for most of the race. Would Fox Norton do it? Would it win by a whisker? Would it heck. Second.

It wasn’t a first place victory but at least I would win something back.

After a day's hard toil, I made my way to Coral and collected my winnings. £24, so a £4 profit from my £20 outlay. The lady who took my bet had neglected to write the 8/1 odds down on my betting slip and as the odds dropped before the race to 7/1, those were the odds that were calculated. I do feel that I was taken advantage of.

So, what have I learned from my betting experience?
It’s fun, it adds a little excitement and I can see the lure. But it’s also littered with disappointment. No biscuits, no Coral band to play an impromptu performance of Dreaming of You, and the lesson that I should probably place bets online in future where the odds are guaranteed.

Still, I was £4 up, I had beaten the bookie, so I left the bookmakers whistling the aforementioned Coral song, and with some money jangling in my pocket for good measure. Not a bad day at all.

G.M. Norton
Protagonist of 'Norton of Morton'

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  1. I don't bet in shops, but I love a day at the races. Have you ever been?

    1. Alas no, but I do quite fancy trying it! It's an excuse to dress up to the nines, after all.


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