Its funny to think, in the week when I reach 60, that as little as 8 years ago, if I’d been off this week (and fine, I probably wouldnt have been, in that case), I’d be retiring from work this week, and drawing my state pension. Yes, up to April 2010, women retired at 60, wow! Since then, much to the annoyance of those affected by it, the pension age for women has risen to 65, to match men, and in the next couple of years, will actually go up to 66, the age I will get to retire at. Dont get me wrong, something had to be done, as everyone (well, most people) seem to live longer now, so this was sort of inevitable.
One of the amusing challenges I have to look forward to, or think about in that case, is one of my occupational pensions! Yes, William Hill, round 2 (there have been 3 rounds in all), between 1985 (2 years after starting there) until I left in 1999, I was paying into an occupational pension scheme with them. And actually, that was drawable, even for a man back then, at the age of 63! And I guess if I’d worked there now, for 33 years, with 3 to go, it would be quite a decent sum! But no, it was about 14 years, so not a fortune (I’m guessing about £3000 – 4000 pa, from what I can remember of last salary), but better than nothing.
The thing is, since then, I’ve changed gender, I’ve changed name twice, and though ‘theoretically’ I’ve got the deed polls to cover that, I’m not sure how easy they would be to find? National Insurance number hasnt changed though, and at least one of those names was used on William Hill, round 3, so who knows how complex that would be? Still, something to think about in the next 3 years or so, for sure. Not a fortune, but given the state of my body, a top up to wages like that might be handy? And where I’d start, 22 years after leaving, no idea? Anyway, something to consider, I guess?
Its funny to think what I’ve packed into my first 60 years, though yes, the transition stands out as my proudest moment by far. Maybe one day, I’ll even brave the surgery, and get everything done, though as I’m not one for surgery now, for the sake of it, I cant see it, unless the need really arises to get ‘my bits bobbed’ as such.
Its funny though. I’ve written, I’ve acted, but in neither case, anything I’m likely to be remembered for. Well, up to now at least, anyway! Still a few years to go, hopefully, though how much more acting I will get to do, no idea? I know, given that I will definitely play the role on Friday, you could say I’ve got one more part, but I suspect I might be the only one looking at it like that! I suspect most, if not all of the others just see it as helping out, and being dressed in an old fashioned way, but we will see?
Writing, well I keep saying I might do more when I ease off work, but doesnt seem to be happening just yet. I only wish I could gather enough information to do a biography of a certain chorus line dancer, and bit part actress, but given she died in the 50’s, and any children (she mentioned one, a daughter, seemingly) would be in her late 70’s by now, if still alive, if I could hope to trace her!
Oh, other point of amusement for you. Not surprisingly, for someone who has spent so much of her life working in the betting industry, the Cheltenham Festival has always been a bit of a special event for me. When I’ve been able to, I’ve tended to take some time off that week, ostensibly because of my birthday, but hey, its good racing, so… Well this week, I missed a couple of races today (only able to watch 5 on ITV), because of the need to go to the doctors, I’ll miss all of tomorrow, due to getting things done to me for Friday, and then I’ll miss all of Friday, because of the Blackpool thing! Funny thing is though, I didnt really mind. Is it because I’m now a woman that I worry less about it? Who knows? I’ll let you know next year lol!
Right, thats enough, dont want to keep you here forever with my waffle. So, video time. In my humble opinion, one of the greatest singers of my lifetime. Yes, I used one of his songs recently, and here’s another!
I know, the blogs have got a bit of a mess day wise this week, due to sad events, but whether this just rights the ship, or whether you still get one tomorrow night, lets wait and see. But yes, with all the news sources mentioning this, and the fact that I do remember a few other events around it, lets mention what happened 20 years ago today, the death of Princess Diana.
Firstly, let me say I’m not a royalist, and leave it there. So if you’re expecting a gushing tribute to her, just move on. Not that I’m one of those great anti-monarchy types either, to be honest, I can just take, or leave them, but agreed, pretty much most of the time, its to leave them well alone.
Given that back in those days (gasp, shock horror, for some), betting shops werent open on Sundays, I got up about 9 am, switched on the TV, and it was wall to wall news about her death. Given that for me, and I suspect most others back then, this was in the days before internet, and mass swamping of satellite channels on your TV, your choice was limited, to Diana, or Diana! Mind, if they had existed, I suspect they would have been swamped by the news too.
This actually happened a week before me, and my partner at the time were due to go on holiday to the Baltic States. The irony of events for me was that, they cancelled all the racing for the day of the funeral, the following Saturday, so I actually finished work a day early. Now, they’d probably not shut the shops for anything, have wall to wall virtual racing, plus those ghastly machines going all day, but back then…nothing!
I saw bits of the funeral, though I took the chance to pack for the holiday in a slightly saner way than I would have done had I been working. There are 2 things that will always stick with me from that holiday, even when most of the details are faded by time. Firstly, just about everywhere out there, you heard this catchy tune, which I could tell was going to be a huge hit, if released in the UK. Yes, it was the second biggest selling single that year, aka Barbie Girl, by Aqua. You’ll be thrilled to hear that isnt the video! Second one, and more pertinent, was when we walked into a church/cathedral (please, its 20 years ago, I cant remember) in Tallinn, and saw a shrine to Diana there. Yes, her mark, and her fame had clearly spread that far.
I suppose it has to be mentioned, was it an accident, or was it murder? The rumor conspiracies both ways are quite amazing. My answer, I really dont know. I’d like to think it was a genuine accident, but given all that came out afterwards, well, you do have to wonder, but anyway, no comment…!
Sadly, the funeral I’d rather be here for, out of that, or my friend, is the one I wont be here for, as its happening on the first Monday I’ll be in the US. And given it will be 4.30 in the morning where I will be, and everything else, I will just wait to hear how it goes, by email, or message service. I know, thats life, I guess?
OK, video time. No, I’ve not picked the ‘obvious’ version of the song. I’m more of a Monroe fan, than I will ever be of Diana, so…
Given this will be my last blog before the big race on Saturday, I will mention here and now that the Grand National is being run at Aintree this Saturday, 8th April. Why do I specify the date, you’ll soon see. The first running of the race I actually remember is the 1966 version, though I may have seen one earlier, thats the first I recall, as it was my first bet, at the age of 8! No, I didnt pay for it, my father did, a big sixpence (2.5p) each way on a horse that I picked because of the name, and nothing more. How things have changed since then, and now the heavy gambler that I am, will pick 3 horses out, and put a pound each way on each of them! Probably know as much about the racing now, as I did then, though there was a period in between when I knew a bit more.
I havent seen every race live since 1966 though. Because I was working in the betting shops in the late 70’s, and again from 1983, I missed seeing the big race during those years, until 1986! Why? Because there were no pictures in the betting shops back then! I know, sounds amazing now, but thats the way it was.
This year actually has a few related milestones, it will be 40 years since Red Rum won his last National, it will be 20 years since the ‘bomb scare’ that caused the race to be run on the Monday. But the event I’m looking back on is an even older milestone than that, going back to 8th April, 1967.
To be fair, there was definitely one horse that most serious punters would have given no glance at, as a possible winner. Perhaps a few shrewdies in the Highlands of Scotland would have backed it because of the name, but no one else would. Indeed, as history tells, neither owner, or trainer of the horse even went to Aintree that day, they thought it would be a waste of time.
In truth, 22 fences passed out of 30, they were right, the horse was still standing, but a very long way behind the leaders. Then history was made, carnage at the smallest fence on the track, and out of all that, one horse from the very rear of the field located a gap in the melee, jumped the fence, and yes, the rest was history. I’m sure, as a few of you already know, that horse was Foinavon. I found some film of the race, for those interested
Many others remounted, and chased after him, but the lead was too great, and the 100/1 no hoper had won the big race! 17 years later, that fence was named after the horse that made it famous!
Its fair to say that with all the changes to the fences in recent years, the race isnt the ferocious test it used to be. Still challenging, but not as hard all the same. So I’m not sure the same will happen again, though a 100/1 shot has won the race again since then, all the same. Who wins it this year? Who knows? But on the 50th anniversary, to the day, of that amazing race, will it be another great turn up?
Oh, that hardened young gambler, well, it took me 4 attempts to back my first winner of the race, and 3 of those were placed on the same horse. Highland Wedding, you can tell my Celtic roots! I have backed a few winners, and a few more placed horse since then, but fine, you will always remember your first winner, I guess?
Right, video time. The blog title gives the song away. Its not the greatest song of all time, but certainly works here!
Back in the ‘bad old days’ of the 80’s and 90’s, while managing a betting shop for William Hill, it was far from an unknown practice that on weeks when too many people were on holiday, off sick, or had simply left without being replaced, that we tended to be ‘offered’ the chance to work a 6 day week, with overtime payment. Yes, the term ‘offered’ was pretty much a case of ‘Do it, or else’, so…fine…
What occasionally happened to me, is that the lack of sleep, and non lack of stress related to this, would mean I would literally ‘flop’ on a Sunday, desiring sleep for a couple of hours in the middle of the day, or face violent headaches, and nausea. To be fair, it was usually the signs of those two things that had me heading to bed in the first place!
I might add, its not like I was working the modern day betting shop hours, as for most of my time there (just towards the end, opening for evening racing kicked in), we would open at 10.00, and be shut by 6.30, but it was tougher mentally back then, because all the settling was done by yourself, not by the till. For all the fuss about it now, I used to man that shop on my own each morning (except Saturday), though they were very different to shops now. But fine, this isnt about betting shop life, so…
What I’ve been doing during my training period for my new job, is getting up early, but going to bed about my normal time. So I guess I’ve been running up a sleep deficit, 5 days a week! Now, thankfully, apart from Saturday’s, I will be able to sleep a little longer, so all should be fine, but…
This morning was like my body reacting to the change, and I got that ghastly sleep deprivation feeling again. Unfortunately it didnt time it well, as it kicked in, just before I was going out to get my hair done! Somehow, with the aid of a couple of cups of coffee, and a lot of yawning, I got through, but felt shattered by the time I got home again.
So yes, just like the old days, I went to bed for a couple of hours during the day, and felt better for it! Hopefully its a one off, and my body doesnt think it can pull that trick again soon. Mind, it always seems to only be when I relax, so that might be why its never happened while at work? I hope so, anyway. I know, I’m getting old, but…
Yes, before you ask, I’m blonde again, all over. Irony is, if I would go a little grey, it wouldnt be so obvious that it wasnt natural, but…! Next thing I need to sort out is waxing, so give me a little time, and…
The video is a lesser known Ultravox track, which you could almost say I was doing earlier, in a non traditional sense!
Given that I’ve now been out of work for over a year, with little or no joy job hunting, you would think that a job that in my life, I’ve done previously, for about 20 years as a manager (78-80 and 83-01), would be the perfect option? But I’ll be quite blunt, you wouldnt get me working in a betting shop again, for all the money in the world, let alone the minimum wages that cashiers get paid nowadays. Why? Because its changed out of all comprehension from the betting shops I worked in, and not for the better, as this article will show
When I started out, back in the late 70’s, shops opened at 10.00 in the morning, Monday to Saturday, and some even, 10.15 during the week! Oh, and in winter, shut at 5.00, and 6.30 was the latest in summer. Now, most shops open at 8.00 in the morning (9.00 Sunday), and shut at 10.00 at night. Some, mainly in London, open earlier, and shut later than that!
Back then, we had people bet on horses, dogs, and football, and that was pretty much it. And that was horse racing in the UK, and Ireland, and Football was just the UK leagues. Even that was minimum trebles, and fivefolds for home wins, not singles like today, on just about every league in the world. OK, during winter, when the weather was bad, you’d get weird trotting racing from France, and Belgium, but that was it. Oh, and no live pictures back then, either.
Now, you get racing from all over the world, with US racing filling in, when there is no evening racing over here, and sometimes on top of that! You also get virtual computerised racing, all designed to take money off the punters. Well, the mug punters, anyway! Thats the other thing, back then, there were no exchanges, so no one was looking to arb (back, and lay a horse in a way, so you cant lose), so beyond the odd hot horse, you just took the bets with little concern back then. Nowadays, when most of your larger bets are only from people trying to arb, its a whole different business.
Ah, the thing you see mentioned in the article, the FOBT machines. In truth, when I left in 2001, we had recently experienced the introduction of fruit machines, and their jackpots, but that was it. But then in came the FOBT machines, and all those sparkling lights, and chances to win money, took punters eyes. Not for the better, as you can see from the article.
In truth, nowadays, betting shops arent betting shops, they’re amusement arcades, that take bets on the side. Given that there is no risk of losing money on the machines, but plenty on the horses, and sports, its not hard to work out what the bookies prefer to have punters using nowadays. Thing is, losing large sums of money to a machine, and the frustrations that brings about, make a new, worse kind of shop punter nowadays. Dangerous? Yes, many at least, judging by this article, I must say.
So no, please dont suggest to me that I should go back to working in betting shops, I like my life, and my sanity way too much for that, for minimum wages. And in truth, anyone with sense shouldnt want to work in them either, but some are brave, or crazy enough to do so, I guess?
The video, just a jaded comment about how things are in betting shops nowadays
…Dont assume its practical!
Having applied for one job at William Hill, I wasnt expecting to get bombarded by other vacancy opportunities by the company, seeing I didnt request them! Anyway, I’m guessing that if you apply for one office based role, they think you’re interested, and available for others.
But yes, fine, I was stunned when the next morning, a vacancy opportunity appeared in my mail box from them. I mean, the job is nothing I couldnt handle doing, in British terms, it sounded the equivalent of a betting shop manager, or assistant manager. But yes, you’ve guessed it, it wasnt in Britain. Fine, Tahoe, Nevada. And it clearly said asked if I would be interested in such a role.
Silly question, by half! Of course I would. And given they were suggesting it to me, I assumed that someone along the way, over there liked the look of my CV, and wanted me to apply. So, excitedly, I did! Filled in all the details, only to be told that I didnt meet the qualification requirements, and that it would be taken no further.
Fine, I wasnt surprised, if still a shade disappointed by the news. I only realised that their system just sent out everything randomly the next day, when I received similar job offers from Romania, and the Philippines! Yes, it was then I took a closer look at the settings, and adjusted them (sadly) to Leeds area only.
But yes, for a few hours, I lived the dream, I was going to work in America, in the sports betting industry. Ah well…
No, thats not everything! This morning, they tried again, and this time it was a job in Leeds. Yes, could do everything required for that role, I’m positive, absolutely. You know why? It was the job I was doing before being made redundant, when they cut back on numbers! No, I didnt apply, because the shift hours wouldnt work for me, now you dont get taxis home late at night.
And fine, it wouldnt be Nevada, either. Ah well…at least I got to dream the dream, briefly.
The video. Well, given its one of the big casino cities in the US, I thought of this number from the 70’s.
Yes, I know, I missed one last night. Sorry, but health issues have got to me the last couple of days, and last night, about 8.15, I started to collapse with nervous exhaustion, so retired to bed. To be honest, it had all pretty much built up by Thursday evening, and I pretty much knew I’d had enough of the job. To say the company (I still refuse to divulge the name, though maybe I should, to stop others going to work there) dont believe in good customer service, would be a massive understatement. Yes, just the opposite seems the rule, in fact.
It got to the point, where, to avoid us giving any useful information to our clients, they took the system away from us. We werent allowed to give customers any information from it, we had to simply take messages, and call them back. Like a few others, I was not using it to give information to anyone, but as a means of checking I had the right case, I kept the screen up. Clearly we were still being too efficient for their liking, as the next day, they switched off our computers! All we could literally do was hope we had the right details. Seriously, this is not great customer service. That was exacerbated by the fact that despite the fact we were promising customers a call back, within a maximum of 24 hours, it was clear this wasnt happening on a regular basis, and many tended not to believe us, seemingly quite rightly.
After a day of sheer frustration doing this on Thursday, I’d pretty much had enough, and wondered if I wanted to bother going in on Friday. Ironically, having decided that I’d battle through to the weekend, and then make my decision, my body decided to step in. Lets just say Thursday night involved a few visits to the bathroom, and leave it at that. Despite this, I got up Friday morning, at my normal time, but quickly realised that was going to be a step too far. Exhaustion, a still far from happy stomach, and everything else, I retired back to bed, and slept for about 3 hours, until about 10.00.
Yesterday, for a while at least, I felt better. Then as I say, mid evening, I crashed completely about 8.30, went to bed, and slept for 12 hours straight, barring 1 brief visit to the bathroom. And yes, I still felt tired when I got up, despite that.
Today, I’ve realised one thing, if I go back, I’m probably going to kill someone, possibly myself, as my sanity is beaten up beyond belief. So, I’ve done one thing, I’ve emailed their HR department, telling them I wont be going back, and please just arrange to pay me for the hours I’ve done, and leave it at that. Yes, I’d heard what a lousy group of companies they were to work for, but its been beyond even my belief just how bad they are.
Oh, and for information sake, 2 others from my group had walked out, even before I left!
Oh, and the crowning moment? Well, yes, obviously, if I’d chosen the other option, and done the trial, as I should have done, I’d never have been through all this. Double irony, because of my stress, and stomach issues, I cant do the trial starting a week tomorrow, as my issues might affect the results! That was going to be my money get out, but now… Yes, I rang them Friday, as I knew by then that I really didnt want to go back, and wanted to get things started. Even knowing that, I cant go on with them.
So yes, today, I’ve gone back to sending in job applications, and hoping for a lucky break. I know, it might not be the wisest move overall, but for the sake of my sanity, it was one I had to make. I think I’ve got past bend, and was reaching break, and thats not a good thing. So…If anyone has a few spare pounds lol…
I’m not saying its bad, but when I’m looking at jobs in a betting shop, it has to be bad!
And yes, just think, right now, I could be resting up in a clinic, as a guinea pig, and the most stressful thing I would be doing is having blood samples taken. Boy, can I really mess things up!
Right, the video. I’ve gone and done what was written for me, in my heart, that I knew I had to do, for better, or worse.
Even though both today, and tomorrow, there will be no horse racing in the UK, and Ireland, people will still be gambling on many things. Indeed, prior to this century (and possibly the early part of it), betting shops actually shut, not just on Christmas Day, but the 2 days before as well. Nowadays, its just a case of Christmas Day off, and that’s only for retail, and retail related staff, as, to my eyes at least, incredibly there will be people betting on Christmas Day, on events happening in parts of the world where the day isnt celebrated, just because its there, and well, its a chance to win/lose money accordingly. Given my job, I cant say too much, but…I think its a shame, that some people, even on this special day, would rather be punting on some North African football match, than celebrating with their family.
The ones I feel most sorry for, are the staff at our office, who have to go in, to cater to these peoples needs!
But anyway… Yes, betting shops have been open today, and again tomorrow (tonight until 10.00, tomorrow only until 5.30) to cover foreign racing, dog racing, and a lot of virtual racing, I suspect. Oh, and to play the machines in the offices nowadays as well! Yes, I’m working tomorrow, to cover all the shops needs, on Christmas Eve.
As I say, in the good old days, the shops were shut, though as I know from past experience (I used to prepare on Christmas Eve as much as I could), that fact never stopped numerous people trying the door. Of course, also back then, papers on Boxing Day were unheard of, all the racing was in the papers on Christmas Eve, so…
I know, I know, in this modern world, everything has to be available 24/7/365, and betting seems to have gone that way, for better, or worse.
At least, with the early finish, I can get home before the buses and trains shut down, I suppose I should be grateful for that? Hopefully Santa will be more punctual than Trans Pennine Express at least, that won’t be hard, mind!
So anyway, hoping that not too many of my readers will be caught up in the manic crush that is Christmas Eve shopping, though I suspect a few will be, all the same! In closing, may I take this chance to wish all my readers the very best Christmas wishes, and hope they enjoy the holiday period. Just think of me, 1 day off!
The video, one of 2 that work for the centenary anniversary of the beginning of WW1 celebrated this year. Mind, then they played football on Christmas Day lol, for all the right reasons!
Oh, yes, I promised a couple of Jean Harlow christmas pics, didnt I?
No, seriously, that title is very tongue in cheek, unless my tipping skills take a turn for the miraculous over the next few days at least. Yes, that time of year has crept around again, the Cheltenham festival starts tomorrow. And at work, there is a meeting long tipping contest, for all the shrewdies, and the one or two like me, with little clue, to take our chance on winning a few pounds. Or most likely in my case, lose ten pounds! But given its the only gambling I will do all week…
But it helps to break up the insanity of the week, checking your selections in the vain hope that they might be running well, only to find they’re still running 15 minutes later, or fell at the first fence! Well, for what its worth, I’ve already done tomorrows picks, so I will apologise to those trainers in advance for ruining their chances! As long as no one expects me to show as much interest when the World Cup football starts, all will be fine!
The only advantage for me this year, with Cheltenham, is that the overtime this week will get paid at the end of April, just in time for my holiday in May! Even more so, as I did a little bit last week, and have some more in 2 weeks time, which will help pay some of the expenses at least! Might have some prize winnings too, though the term ‘pigs might fly’ comes to mind on that!
My favourite race, the cross country race, but I always was a strange soul, in more senses than one!
The video, well, its definitely in the title tonight!
In other news, which may amuse some, I’ve decided to accept my very nice fate, and accept I’m a Jean Harlow lookalike. Hey, I could do an awful lot worse in life, lets face it. So I’ve decided (for now at least) to stay blonde, and go for a 30’s style look with my hair, which given my fringe (or lack of it) might not be a bad thing. I will still (probably) wear a flapper style dress to my birthday dinner on Sunday, but given my hair, and my eyebrows arent being ‘rearranged’ until Tuesday, that should be fine. Well, I’ll wear it if the weather stays like this at least, they are both too short if it turns cold again! In which case, given my finger nails are now gun metal in colour, I might wear the grey dress, seen at Christmas, or I might wear a nice black one, from, err, a Wakefield charity shop!
So, I’ll let you decide, is this me, or is this Miss Harlow, hmm?
Mind, I’m led to believe that we are so similar (or will be when my hair is restyled) that telling the difference is tricky. Ah well, I can dream…
Well, this morning I went and had my hair highlighted and cut again. In all honesty, the latter was overdue, and the former was pretty much becoming a need too, but now the deed is done. And yes, its still blonde…for now! But only for now. Let me announce now, for those who read my blog, I’m going to change my hair colour the next time around. Not that being a blonde isnt fun, it is, but I’ve been that way for quite a while now, and I think its time for a change. Stick with the bob though, and in a sense, when you read on, even more of a reason for doing so.
Oh, and Linda, if you read this, I’m warning you now, ‘killing me’ for not being blonde is not really practical lol! As I say, if she sees this, she will know who I mean! Just at the moment, I’ve got a couple of options. One, that June (my hairdresser) suggested to me, of going brown, maybe with a few red highlights, maybe not? Actually sounds quite good to me. The other one I’m considering is the look that most flappers went with, the very dark one, black. Funnily enough, much closer to my natural hair colour than I’ve been in a long time. As I’m told there is no sign of grey hair, I might well go with that.
I’m not saying I wont end up going blonde again at some point, but a change is as good as a rest, as they say, and I feel its time for one. No, I dont plan on shortening the bob even more though. I know that nowadays I have ‘2 good reasons’ why people shouldnt think I’m a guy, but no point in taking too many chances lol! Who me, boyish, surely not! The longer bob looks good anyway, so I’ll stick with that at least.
Other than that, the main thing that seems to have come together, is holiday plans. And shock horror with me, its been changed a bit! Yes, I will still be going to Kansas, but its going to be September! Yes, I spoke to Kate last night, care of Yahoo Messenger, and we talked things through, and made plans. So, given that I’m going to Albany now in November, that moved the ‘blank space’ from September to May. Actually, not so blank. A long, long time ago, (early 80’s, at a guess) I spent more than a few holidays in Jersey, and had a wonderful time. But no, have never been back since. Well, in the summer of 2014, after I guess, 32 years, I plan on going back. No, I dont expect to recognise anywhere, and certainly wouldnt expect anyone to recognise me, for more reasons than one!
The one thing ironically that will, by then be the same, the hair colour, assuming I go dark, not brown at least! The funny thing, especially with my job, will be the betting shops. Back then, in the UK, all betting shops shut at 6.30 in the summer, in Jersey, they stayed open for night racing, and I remember my amusement at going in a shop at 8.00 in the evening, just because I could. Now, everywhere stays open!
Now, all I have to find is some body armour, for when I see Linda, after I’ve changed the hair colour! 😛
The video, a real oldie, in black and white, quite apt, maybe?