|The Winner Takes It All|
Written by SE1blue on Wednesday, 31st Jul 2013 08:45
Pixar made millions with a movie about an old man who tied balloons to his house in a desperate attempt to escape an irritating life and fulfil a promise of travelling to South America.
I’m thinking of making a sequel called Down in which another pensioner heads to a betting shop to escape an irritating wife and to try and win enough for a trip to Margate.
In the nineties betting shops were seeking ways in which they could encourage a younger crowd with more disposable income through their front doors. After much head scratching and pontificating it was decided by the gambling management that what was stopping wealthy young men and women from crossing the threshold into a sticky carpeted, smoke-filled den, full of desperate addicts was the fact that they couldn’t see inside.
So, a cunning plan was hatched. Betting shops up and down the country started to remove the screening from their display windows and opened up their stores for the whole world to see what was going on behind the masking.
What they created were very large high street goldfish bowls containing some really weird fish. If you stood outside a betting shop around this time what you would have witnessed through the glass, from the safety of the pavement, was a group of malnourished, dentally-challenged men, twitching and contorting like regulars at a silent epileptic disco.
In between convulsions the punters would spill out onto the pavement to blow clouds of smoke into the sky and swear at the sun. Needless to say, Mr and Mrs Upandcoming chose to take their lattes to House of Fraser and keep their money firmly in their pockets.
So, the screens went back up and online betting sites saved the Charles and Jeremys of this earth from an afternoon with half a dozen Albert Steptoes.
Had the management just locked the toilet and removed all the chairs, they could have saved themselves millions in research and negative publicity, whilst migrating a generation of pensioners back to supermarkets cafes.
Today, my local betting shop is a curious place. Located under a bridge close to London Bridge station, it has no windows, just a front door and a back door. There’s a massive television screen on one wall and gaming machines dotted around the room. The carpet isn’t sticky and the atmosphere is relaxed.
You can buy hot drinks, cold drinks, confectionery and crisps. Its customers include builders, market stall holders, doctors, businessmen and, of course, pensioners. There’s even a toilet, with toilet paper! It’s like a nuclear bunker for gamblers.
I wouldn’t like to vouch for the future of the human race were a bomb to be dropped at 2.15pm on a Thursday afternoon, but our crowd could probably defeat a zombie nation without having to rely on blowing smoke in their faces and gurning them to death. Betting shops are evolving.
Gambling still has a stigma and at the end of the day there are better ways of spending your money. But, if you’re sensible, lucky and limit yourself to just one addiction then what can possibly go wrong?
Should you risk life and limb and enter a betting shop this weekend, here are my tips that might prove more productive than tying 20,000 balloons to your house.
Yankee of draws
Burnley v Bolton
Birmingham v Watford
Middlesbrough v Leicester
Reading v Ipswich
Tommy Smith 25/1
Correct score prediction
Reading 2 Ipswich 2
Town to win Championship with +14 points, each way at 18/1.
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