Many years ago I used to go to parties where we played pass-the-parcel; everyone won a prize. Now I go to dinner and it’s followed by a game of pass-the-blood-pressure-monitor where no one wins a prize but we all learn whether we were supposed to eat that last portion of profiteroles with extra cream.Continue reading
There was racing at Worcester on Thursday and a coach-load of annual members from Kelso Racecourse in attendance. The last time so many Scots gathered on Pitchcroft they were part of King Charles II’s royalist army, there to fight the final battle of the English civil war…Continue reading →
We live in tense times and I’ve been warned that I must be careful about my language. No febrile talk of crushing the French or vanquishing the Europeans – no matter how much we want to see Enable record a fabulous third win in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday…Continue reading →
Most people are aware that when you reach the age of 100, you’ll receive a birthday greeting from the Queen. Fewer people know that, when you turn 50, the NHS will send you a small plastic envelope to put some poo in for bowel cancer screening.
It’s just one of those little treats that older people keep to themselves for fear of spoiling the surprise.Continue reading →
It’s a tough job, but someone had to do it: on Wednesday it was racing at Kelso, Thursday a trip to the local brewery…
Horseracing is an inherently sociable pastime and one that has enjoyed an historic association with alcoholic lubrication. Indeed, the first races to benefit from commercial sponsorship were the Whitbread Gold Cup and the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup in 1957.Continue reading →
Civilisation, it has been said, came about as a result of over-productive farmers.
First there were hunter-gatherers who fended for themselves around the globe (except, of course, the earth was flat in those days). And then people started growing things – fancy grasses that resembled early varieties of barley, courgettes and stuff.
It wouldn’t have taken long for someone to forget to harvest the courgettes, grow a giant marrow and wonder “What the hell am I going to do with this?”Continue reading →
I love deadlines. I like the whooshing noise that they make as they fly by.
But sadly the season for missing deadlines has passed and we’ve reached that point in the year when we have to start hitting them – like clay pigeons scything through the air. Bam, bam, bam. The first day of the 2019/20 season at Kelso Racecourse is scheduled for Tuesday 10th September and it has to happen, come what may.Continue reading →
My, how standards have fallen! Things just ain’t what they used to be. When I was at school, the teachers used to arrange for inspirational icons of society to present the annual awards to students. But, this week, the poor kids at Earlston managed to get lumbered with me…Continue reading →
Once upon a time there was a group of monks. Sent forth from the Augustinian Priory of Bradenstoke in Wiltshire, the monks were tasked with finding a new location for a Priory in the North West of England.
Having selected a site on top of a hill with magnificent views, one of the monks heard a mysterious voice saying “Not there, but in a valley, between two rivers, where one runs north and the other runs south.” So the monks resumed their search for a site and found, deep in the valley, not far from the shifting sands of a large bay, an island of hard ground that was located within a marsh containing two water courses – each flowing in a different direction.Continue reading →
As postal addresses go, ‘Himself, Ireland’ is pretty brief – but well-wishing cards that bore just these two words still managed to reach Arkle in the 1960s. Such was the fame of the World’s best ever steeplechaser, one letter even reached him after it had been misdirected to ‘Arkle, Westminster Abbey’ – presumably because the sender estimated that this was the most likely home of his owner Anne, Duchess of Westminster.
Historically, few individuals have enjoyed the privilege of being addressed with such brevity. Even my letters addressed ‘Santa, North Pole’ seem to have gone astray in recent years. Either that or I haven’t been as good as I thought…Continue reading →