Category Archives: Cheltenham Festival

In the working years

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!

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Dont dream the snow is over

Oh fine, I’ll admit it, I’ve definitely started to get a case of ‘cell fever’ having been stuck indoors since last Tuesday morning, because of all the snow, ice, and stuff like that. I have to admit though, that its been nice being able to take ‘snow days’ from work since then (total of 3 work days), and not have to risk slipping over outside, and damaging knees, back, or both! Especially the latter, as I dread to think what further damage I could have done by going out, slipping over, and landing on my back, but anyway… It is still white out in the garden at present, but most of the snow is gone, the temperature is above freezing, so unless something dramatic happens overnight, I should get ‘release’ tomorrow to go back to work. Thankfully, if I believe the Weather Channel website forecast for next 10 days or so, I should be fine now, through to after my birthday. I know temperatures in the 40’s are hardly amazing, but a lot better than low 20’s!

The silly thing is, normally I can get by on less painkillers when not working, but yes, fine, that doesnt work so well in freezing conditions! Actually, I’ve only got 4 more working days as a 50 something now, as I’m off the week of my birthday. Mainly because of that, but yes, there is a little racing event called the Cheltenham Festival too, to enjoy as well. Irony, unless I remember to switch it on at the hotel in Blackpool, I’ll end up missing the biggest race of the week, the Gold Cup, despite that.

Oh, and another moment that shows I’m getting old, the rail trip will be made on a Senior Railcard, my first time. Yes, that hasnt changed from being available at 60! In fact, its available at that age for men too! The card might be £30, but by the time you add this trip in, the one to Scotland in September, a possible one from Manchester Airport in May, before anything else, I’ll easily cover the cost.

One other trip I need to book too, the one to Newcastle for work, which should be fine, seeing they’ve now had a week to register my account, and it should take 2 working days! Yes, had planned to do it Wednesday, but then the snow happened, so… And yes, tax payers, I will be using my Senior Railcard to save your money!…angel… Cheapest centrally based hotel available, with internet for me, I’m positive.

But yes, it will be nice tomorrow to actually be able to go out the front door, and ‘escape’ for a few hours, even if it will be at work. I like it here, a lot, but after nearly a week indoors…

An amusing moment before I go. You might remember I ordered a maxi length flapper dress for my work birthday dinner next Saturday? Well, comments on Amazon said it was too long, but I thought that just meant for women of short, to medium height, not to women of my height, at 5′ 9″ tall! Wrong, it actually needs taking up so I can walk in it, and as a good flapper girl should, show a bit of ankle! No, you dont want me showing knees lol, which is why I got a maxi one! Still, matter of getting it taken up is in hand, so… In truth, I’ll probably take it to Blackpool with me, just in case, as a back up.

Right, video time. You might have worked out the song, or maybe not, but you wont have guessed the singer, because its not Crowded House. One of the great ‘lesser known’ British voices of so many tears now!

 

Could be the last time

Well, given that the next time I will get chance to write will be Wednesday, if I’m going to do this before the big meeting starts, it has to be tonight.

Yes, starting next Tuesday, for 4 glorious days, is the Cheltenham Festival, the biggest jump racing meeting of the year. And though, in theory, it might not be my last one working in the betting industry, it would seem quite possible that it will be. Mind, I wont be alone, as it will also be the last festival for someone who is one of the greatest jump jockeys of all time, A P (Tony) McCoy. He’s retiring, whereas for me, it will just be a different workplace, hopefully.

It will be about my 25th Cheltenham Festival, but dont quote me on an exact number. All I know is, that I’ve seen, and going back to the very early days, heard a few of them. Yes, back when I started in the betting industry, in the late 70’s, we had no live pictures in the shop. My, havent things changed?

Equally, back then, we opened at 10.00, shut at 5.00 in winter, the latest of 6.30 in the summer, so that has changed too.

But the first Cheltenham memories I have, go back a lot further than that. Yes, I remember in the mid 60’s seeing a horse called Arkle galloping triumphantly around the track. Yes, as I say, I’ll be 57, a few days after the meeting is over. Normally my birthday falls within Cheltenham, but this year, its the week after.

I cant imagine it will be the last time I see racing from the Cheltenham festival, just be the last time I’m taking phone calls at work about it. My favourite race nowadays? None of the quality stuff, its the cross country race! I just love something a little different, thats all.

And though I wont be gambling strictly on the racing, I’m pretty sure I will be risking a tenner in the office competition held over the meeting. It would be nice to win something, especially this year, but I will be up against shrewd tipsters, so I doubt it very much.

So yes, I have one more working Cheltenham festival to ‘look forward to’ at least, but this may well be the last one.

The racing? Tips? You have to be joking, dont you?

So fine, the video is about as old as my first Cheltenham memories

Take The Money and Run!

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?

Jean Harlow

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…

Lull before the storm, before the lull

Given that I work in the sports betting industry, its fair to say that horse racing makes March and April an even more lively period than usual. Mid March brings the Cheltenham Festival, and then of course early April brings the Grand National galloping into sight. So yes, they are the storm in the middle, so what are the two lulls surrounding them? Well, I guess its not hard to work out, its that strange beast called holidays!

Next week sees me using up the last of my holiday for this year (holiday year is April to March), when I get to work a whole one day on Monday, then get the rest of the week off. The following week though will be anything but a rest, as that brings along the Cheltenham Festival for four glorious days of manic gambling. Yes, I’m working some overtime that week too, so feel free to question my sanity lol! One rare event this year, my birthday doesnt fall within the race meeting dates, so I’ve actually got the day off, the Saturday, which will be nice.

Some might be amused to hear that for me at least, another important sporting landmark occurs next week, the start of the Ireland cricket season. No, not at home silly, away in the UAE where the weather will be a lot warmer than here! I’m hoping to get to a match in Ireland at some point this summer, but no idea where, or when at present.

Then things (relatively at least) calm down a bit for a couple of weeks, and then along comes that crazy day known as Grand National Day. Yes, its as crazy in the call centre as it is in the betting shops, believe me!

Then finally, the second lull, the first holiday of the new holiday year, off to Rochester on the 20th April, something to really look forward to. As I say, for March and April, I see both sides of life.

Talking of which, leads me to the video, a very neat tie in. The scary point, this performance is nearly 40 years old, eek!

Yes, I’m back!

Well no one can say I didnt warn you it would be a while before I posted again! Yes, the Cheltenham festival is now over, but got another long day tomorrow, so dont expect anything then lol! Hopefully something in the few days after that.

So what has happened in the interim since I last posted? To be honest, most of it has been so manic, I cant really remember! Well, I know what happened today, in numerical terms at least, I got one year older! The best present, not having to go to the madhouse for one whole day! Seriously, had a lovely meal tonight, but the main thing has been just doing not too much for the day. Oh, and reminding myself that 5 weeks tomorrow, I’m off to Seattle for a week. Not looking forward to the flights, but looking forward to seeing the city again.

The Iditarod dog race has been won, though the back of the field probably wont finish until Sunday. Havent heard of any dog fatalities, which is great, though lets get every team home before we celebrate that fact.

The only other main event in my life has been a far sadder one, an anniversary that I wish wasnt. I would have loved to have posted this on Tuesday, but hey, a 10 hour shift, plus a combined total of about 3 hours travel on top of that is a killer. And thats just an ordinary length day this week! On the 13th of March, last year, a close internet friend died of cancer. Unfortunately it was only nearly a fortnight later that we got confirmation of the news that all her friends feared. So 3 days late, I’m going to do the memoriam she deserved, and say, Sara Castle, you arent forgotten by us, RIP dear.

OK, the video is going to reflect on todays date though, a song from over 30 years ago, its called showing my age lol!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40K2S0-5Xo0