Inside The Betting Shop
Mark leaves his bike at the door and flicks his filter-less Drum rollie before placing 10 pence reverse forecasts, after looking at all the forms.
A man I’ve never met collects 200 for his fag-break, before watching it all randomly swallowed up by the machine.
Jeff gets stressed when the computers crash and his bets are off late, even though I tell him I can amend it.
Greek Chris parks a Bentley on the pavement and tells me it’s OK to smoke because his GP said so.
Pinky bets big and tips. Always talking business on his phone. I used to babysit his children, but I’m a stranger to him now.
Simon comes in with G, sometimes because I asked them to, sometimes for their own quick fixes.
Chris and Nicky do the Irish and share everything they get. He must have ADHD calling all the elderly punters ‘son’ and trying his luck with me.
Clive spins his slip onto the counter always with a genuine smile. He lent me a book called Steppenwolfe actually. If you come inside, I’ll lend it to you.
Dave complains about the bleeding machines, about the competition winner not being one of the locals, about his granddaughter’s meningitis,but when he leaves, I know where he goes,
To the ATM and straight back again,
And the kids off the street say they’ve forgot their I.D again so I say “one last spin” and they’re happy with that and they leave with no hassle having hustled enough cash for their fags in the cafuffle.
Seemingly balanced men pace, waiting for the commentary to say something that resonates, or for Chris with his ADHD to scream out a banker.
They all scribble on scraps and race to the counter to lay cash on the horse their Messiah foresaw.
I sit here with my feet up, noticing the humour in my men’s mistakes.
Am I the wise man then behind the glass, remaining relaxed, taking in cash,
Or am I the worst of the lot?