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Easy Money (Cheltenham 1992)… part three

Submitted by on April 4, 2014 – 8:57 amNo Comment

cheltenham-festival

part three of a short story…

We take our place in the queue behind someone who wants to enter into discussion about whether or not a jam roll constitutes a full English breakfast.

-A full English is a double vodka and a Jamaican Golden Virginia where I come from mate, I say.

We could have just sodded off to the coach but I’d ordered the trip on the Wife’s credit card so I didn’t want no comebacks. She doesn’t know I’m in Cheltenham she thinks I’m at our Steve’s in Middleton. I had to engineer a row to escape for a few days. Little does she know I planted the toy fire engine that I pretended to trip over and then blamed her for leaving lying around.

-We get to the front and this snooty bitch says,
-Yes?

I’ve just come to return the key to number 768 luv, I say.

She tabs the room number into her computer and says
-Seventy-six seventy five please

-You what? I say, just my bill not the whole floor’s.
I think there’s been some error but she checks it again and says,

-Seventy-six seventy five please Sir.
She adds the “Sir” with a sneer. There’s a queue behind us and they’re getting restless, but I shake me head. I aint paying that for no bottle of vodka.

-Not a chance, I say, what’s all that for?

So she says matter of fact, but loud enough for all to hear.

-It’s for room service, which delivered a tray containing vodka, orange juice, a service charge and you watched the late night adult movie.

-There’s a bit of sniggering behind us, but me and Tony are seasoned campaigners on the facing things out front.

-Adult? Says Tony, not us we watched the porn film.

This puts us on a level above Lady Snooty. She doesn’t realise it but you can’t belittle or talk sense to a couple of Manchester drunks out on a jolly boys outing- a couple more vodka’s and we’d be daring each other to stand in the queue with our gruds round our ankles.

-I’ll get the manager, she says.

-Get God, I say, cos I aint paying no seventy-six quid for no bottle of vodka even if Bob Dylan delivered it on a gold tray.

This young lad comes out- he looks like he’s in his early twenties.

-Have you got a problem Sir? He says.

-No, I say.

-I believe you are disputing the bill, he says.

I stare him in the eyes.
-You the manager? I ask.

-I am, he says.

-I’ll tell you what, I say, I bet your Mam is proud of you reaching such dizzy heights at such a young age.

Then I crack the old Peter Sellers joke from ‘Inspector Clouseau’
-Bell Boy I will make you a Bell Man.

Tony’s laughing but he’s the only one that is

The young lad is standing firm (he must have watched the adult film as well).

-What is your complaint? He asks

I feel like saying ‘a wife, two kids and mortgage arrears but settle for

-Seventy-six pound for a bottle of vodka

He looks at me, smiles and says

-It was for the vodka and mixers plus room service, plus the adult movie. I assure you the bill is correct, if you move out of the queue I’ll have it checked again for you if you like?

I laugh in his face and say
-Is English your second language? Look I aint paying no seventy-six pound for a bottle of vodka and a watch of ‘Debbie does Dudley’. And I aint moving from this queue until it’s sorted.

It’s stalemate. He plays what he thinks is his winning move.
Did you sign the bill when the vodka was delivered Sir? He says

He’s played this game before.

-Yeah, I say.

-Then you’ve entered into a contract and you must pay, he says.

-We aint paying, says Tony.

The ever growing queue behind are all hushed- in the main they want to see me and Tony get our comeuppance.

-Then I’ll call the Police, says the child star of the hotel business.

-Oh don’t do that son, I say, they take enough stick as it is and they’re only trying to do a job.

There’s one or two in the queue laughing and one of the Bristol boys shouts,

-You tell them Manchester- I ordered a Daily Mirror and all I got was a Woman’s Realm. No racing page in that is there?

-it’s OK; Tony shouts back, I’ve got a spare Mirror you can have.

I’m getting nowhere so Tony takes over the argument.

-If you phone the Police, he says, and explain to them that we’ve broken a contract they’ll tell you that it’s a civil matter and none of their business. So I’ll give you two choices- one, we go into Wolverhampton and get you a replacement bottle (as if we would), or two, you can have twenty quid in lieu of a genuine mistake.

Mr. Manager is knackered- he knows he is right but then again so are we. He nods to the snobby bitch and she takes the twenty and don’t even charge for ‘Debbie Does Dudley’.

A bit steep for a bottle of voddy but then again the mini bar has supplied us with a carry out and it is Cheltenham.

We board our coach and are treated like lepers all the way to Cheltenham by our good companions. We’ve got a couple of shorts a piece and a couple of cans plus the opinion of every racing journalist this side of Ayrshire so who gives a shit?

We get to Cheltenham and tell the driver to drop us off in the town centre. We get our card and ribbon (orange today), and go for a livener.

The pubs in Cheltenham on Gold Cup day open at the crack of dawn and the atmosphere is like nowhere else on Earth. Every punter’s got a tip; every punter’s spoke to a trainer and every punter’s talking horse shit. Sell my clothes I’ve gone to Heaven! If ever I’m on the job and I don’t want to come I try to remember the name of every person that was in the pub the night before and if I’m ever on the job and I want to come I think to myself it’s Cheltenham in March at half past three and the Starter is mounting the rostrum.

Me and Tony revel in it- we tip every barmaid, pot carrier and piss artist, after all it is Cheltenham. Thank you Mick Kelly. About half one we taxi it to the course- don’t want to miss the opener, the Triumph Hurdle.

-Why didn’t we stay in the fucking pub? Says Tony, after we drop a ton on the opener.

A lot of people go to Cheltenham to crash the beer tents, but me and Tony we’re there to see the best horses and jockey’s in the world.

‘The Fellow’ is in the third race, the Gold Cup, so we take it easy on the second and bang fifty on Tony’s tip Esha Ness, which unseats its rider at the sixth.

-Big deal, I say to Tony, we’re saving all our luck for the next.

We go to the bar- there’s a mad Irish lad in front of us, his name’s Tim and ‘Tipping Tim’ won the first at 20/1. Tim got in early and he’s yelling that he backed it like only a Tipperary man can. He buys us a Guinness and tells us he’s doubling up on Carvills Hill.

Now the deliberation starts- it’s ‘The Fellow’ but how much do we have on?

The racing papers are all going 5/2 but we know we’ll get better odds. The English and the Irish wont back a French horse. The English and the Irish wont back a French horse. Let me tell you about the landed gentry they’d rather have their daughter buggered by the gardener than see a French horse win a big race.

-A grand on ‘The Fellow’ three’s or better’, I say

-Hang about, says Tony, put six hundred on- leave us some getting back money.

-It won’t lose, I say, I watched it at Kempton. It’s a class above the rest of these.

-Kempton’s different, Tony says, it’s a park course. I don’t like the jockey, he’s Polish- he doesn’t know the course.

-Look, I say, he won’t get lost. Me Mam could ride it carrying two bag of shopping and win. This is the big one. We’ll go home with grand’s in our pockets. Trust me, have I ever let you down?

I’m holding the money, we’ve got over sixteen hundred left. I peel off a grand (I have the money in ton bundles-four twenties with another one folded over them to make counting easier).

-Okay, he reluctantly agrees, a grand it is- I’ll put in on a get the best price.

And he wanders off. I know he’ll get the best price available. So I sit back and wait. The tannoy goes,

-Bing Bong. Pickpockets in the Guinness enclosure.

…part four tomorrow…

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