Class work for Haringey Literary Live, 28/04/2018


Subject: Mothers.


Most mornings you would find my mum scanning the Daily Herald and the Mirror.

Not for her the headlines on the front pages or the stories of banking scandals, or the obituaries of famous people.

No, mum was focusing all her attention on the back pages, where the likes of Bouverie or Newsboy were holding forth on which horse would win the two thirty at Ascot or Alexandra Palace.

Such was her immersion in the written word of these racing guru’s that no one would dare to interrupt her.

It was like she actually believed that the horses these tipsters were putting forward as likely winners were going to give her a good return on her sixpence each way five horse accumulator, (total outlay one shilling).

I’m not sure how this bet works but I think it is something like this, a sixpence is placed on the first horse to finish in the first three, if it is successful, the winnings are placed on the second horse and so on to the next horse, if one of the horses fails to finish in the first three, the bet is lost.

This is how bookmakers or turf accountants as my brother in law called himself, make all their money.

Mum never gambled with the house keeping or anything like that, she was a bookies runner for Gordon— the turf accountant—, she would earn commission for the bets she collected from our neighbours.

The amazing thing is, she once won with this sort of bet, probably about five pounds.

It was not about the winning but the taking part, she might have said.

She was never upset if she lost, but she liked to tell us all if only that horse at Ascot had finished, she would be in the money.

Unlike some of our family, I never had the betting bug.

I would take and collect the bets my mum had collected and realised it was nearly always a one-way trip.


Author: madeinchertsey

Born in 1932, this is a collection of stories of my childhood growing up in Chertsey, and some stories of my later life.

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