Wednesday, March 14, 2007

And they’re off!

Oh to be at Cheltenham, now that the Festival’s there. I’ve never actually been, and people I know who have say that you can’t see anything, but it would be worth it for the atmosphere. The same with Aintree on Grand National Day. I adore going to the races; I love seeing the horses, the people, the hats, and the sound of galloping hooves approaching the winning post is one of the best noises in the world.

I have booked the day off so I can watch the Gold Cup on Friday. I will consult the bible, but since the sad demise of Best Mate, I have been no good at picking the winner so don’t ask for any tips. I’m a bit better at parting the bookies from their money on Grand National Day.

I think Elizabeth Taylor galloping about on The Pie in the schmaltzy Hollywood-ised version of National Velvet must have started it for me (read the book by Enid Bagnold – it’s much darker: suicides, children who throw up a lot…). The golden age of Red Rum fed it, and it gathered pace with The Champions, then more recently Seabiscuit, plus the liberal doses of Dick Francis I still frequently prescribe myself.

As a child, it was my ambition to win the Grand National. I figured if Liz could do it, why couldn’t I? Nowadays, my sights are set a bit lower – I’d love to ride in a point-to-point. I just need someone to lend me the horse.

I sometimes suspect that my grey mare has her fantasies too. After all, she lives with four horses who raced under rules, plus her significant other was a point-to-pointer. I bet they tell her tall tales. When we’re galloping along the beach, I wonder if she has the same dreams as me …


Anonymous said...

Haven't been there in Gold Cup week, but did go for some other race meet and the atmosphere was excellent.

And it was sponsored by Murphy's so had a bit of the vibe, with a big screen telly, so you could follow the action even if you didn't have your binoculars.

I shouldn't say that I cheered when a horse fell over, but it was National Hunt, and a horse called Tullymorry Toff was then in the lead, and I had backed him. He kept the lead all the way to the final furlong and I thought he would run out of steam. But he wan ! Greatly exciting and paid for most of my other bets.

We also went to Cheltenham racecourse for a 'works conference' where [and I swear I'm not making this up] we had to do some team bonding my telling 3 stories, one of which was true and the other false as a way of 'getting to know your colleagues' [surely, giving them ammunition for blackmail?].

My 'true' story related to having been a pen boy for 'sheep dog trials' [why?!] and I was very pleased to have managed to sneak that lie past the rest of the team!

Understand that this has now been nicked for a R4 panel game. If you are in that neck of the woods, we stayed at a great, quaint old hotel called the 'De La Bere'. I'm sure it is still there [well if it has survived 200 years already..] and it is wonky as the 'House that Jack built] and has an 'outdoor swimming pool' !! Hmm.. a little too chilly.

So do go to Cheltenham if you get a chance - splendid little place, but take plenty of cash, as there seem to be the most expensive ladies shoe shops outside of Chelsea and Kensington..

mutterings and meanderings said...

That is really rather freaky anon, because I used to have to write stories for a radio quiz, two of which were false and one of which was true, and the punter had to guess which one was true! Not R4 though ...

Anonymous said...

M&M - Do tell more.. I think the Radio 4 version featured Punt and Dennis ? Not sure what it was called.

But it sounds like one of those old 'parlour games'. This seems to be a feature of 'team bondage' days, as I call them, as a way of getting you to open up - which I absolutely detest doing to work colleagues !

Although often interesting what you found out about others - as they say 'there's nowt so queer as folk'..

mutterings and meanderings said...

Now anon, I can't go blowing my cover by saying where I worked when I wrote quizzes ... someone I know might read this and I would be utterly mortified.

When I am a rich and famous author I will have a pen name.

The Grocer said...

So M&M is that you straide the horse dressed like the Milk Tray man?

mutterings and meanderings said...

Fraid so, Grocer. I've never been compared to the Milk Tray Man before though. That's made me giggle!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I know this is repetition, but if you get a chance see 'The Science of Sleep'. Because some of is set in dreamtime Gael Garcia Bernal has to use some bizarre modes of transport.

One of which is a stuffed toy horse which he rides over hill and dale !
And he rides some 'cardboard toy' cars...Weird and wonderful...

Anonymous said...

Collective Nouns - don't want to push this too much as it will get dull, but some of these collective nouns did make me smile. Especially where there appears to be some confusion or competition over which is right :-

Like -
band of jays
party of jays
scold of jays

I imagine the jays are at a wedding and one group is the 'band' playing the music, the other the 'party' having fun, and then the oldies are the 'scold' saying things like 'how much make has she got on', 'I give it 3 years, tops', and 'That skirt is far to short for someone her age'...

"storytelling of crows" is another alternative, so they had best not be near a 'murder of crows' or someone is going to get grassed up big-time...

A great one is the penguins :-
"colony of penguins
crèche of penguins
huddle of penguins
parcel of penguins
rookery of penguins"

I can imagine one confused penguin wandering between groups, thinking 'I'm too old to be in the creche, but I'm certainly not a rook..'..

And what about pedantic leopards ?
"leap of leopards
leep of leopards
lepe of leopards"

They will be separated off into their little groups thinking 'No way are you joining us until you learn to spell leap/leep/lepe..'

And to finish where we started with black birds, we have the ravens..

"storytelling of ravens
unkindness of ravens"

You see the ravens that don't 'blog' really are unkind....

Arthur Clewley said...

maybe we should organise a NE bloggers day at the races M&M. Do you think Rilly would come? Just share your tips with me though, best not tell the others.

mutterings and meanderings said...

A like a storytelling of ravens!

Arthur, what a fab idea... I reckon Rilly would enjoy the Northumberland Plate. I could get one of those yellow and green hats.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I have just realised that Hotel De La Bere is actually set in a 15th Century Tudor Manor House, so it is actually far older than the two centuries I suggested...

But what is 300 years between friends, eh ?

Karen said...

I'm not into horse racing at all but I love Cheltenham.

My grandma used to keep a caravan near Malvern so when my parents and I used to stay there we'd go through to Cheltenham to go shopping.

It's an absolutely fabulous place with lovely pedestrian area, and GREAT shops. I remember there were loads of nice hippy shops if you're that way inclined. I remember looking at glass hookahs, bongs, pipes etc. and thinking how pretty and colourful they were but wondering the hell they were.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Anon, why are you anon? I am only anon when I am being nasty or petulant and you haven't been either - yet ...Do you have a blog?

Karen, I spent two summers picking strawberries on the Herefordshire side of the Malvern Hills when I was a student. Happy days!

Anonymous said...

m&m - Hmm...Why am I anon ? I could say that it is due to a principled stand for anonymity, in keeping with my opposition to ID Cards, the NHS IT database and the like..but it is more likely to be related to the fact that as a man I am a lazy ar$e and it is too much bovver...

Sarnia said...

Hello M&M - you kindly left a comment on my blog about ....shhh... smoking.

Thought I'd reciprocate (seeing as my husband was at Cheltenham today - lucky bugger.)

As a child/teenager/young woman I used to go racing often with my father and his friends: Ascot; Lingfield; Kempton Park and Sandown. Never been to Cheltenham though.

Karen said...

Did you ever make it to the British camp at the top of the hills M&M?

Mum, grandma and I once schlepped our way up - bloody knackering in summer heat! It was really good though - lots of different sites of interest.

We also stumbled around Malvern Priory graveyard in the dark to find Charles Darwin's daughter's grave. We had been given carnations in an Indian restaurant so we left them for her.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Karen, yep. We used to walk over the hills to the pub on the other side. There was an obelisk as well.