I've stayed in London this weekend - not something I like to do. Even an hours drive down the M4 corridor to that Nirvana some know as Reading, feels like a holiday in Paradise, compared to Kilburn's relentless ugliness and whitenoise.
Of course, there were a few distractions to keep the pulse going. The Royal wedding was a blast - not literally, as I'd dared to hope, but it's always a joy to see the truly mental flag wavers, a symphony in pink nylon, who've been camping on the pavement for days, living on M and S rations. People wearing bi-focal spectacles and union jack top hats, making a spectacle of themselves, while marvelling at the spectacle....how can Rover go bust, when these people walk the earth?..perhaps the clue's in the walking.
Anyway, enough of the wedding. I'd like to speak about the other horse race of the day, the Grand National.
As a tribute to my dear departed father, I elected to enjoy the race in proper fashion.
As soon as wife and child had left the premises, I sprung up from my bed, changed into acceptable apparel, then hot-footed it out to Kilburn High Rd for a paper, some ciggies and several pints of black stuff in McGovern's bar.
McGoverns is a proper unspoilt, Old man's pub. Very Irish, all purple faces and pipe smoke. It has Four televisions so that even the visually and alcoholicly impaired will never miss the racing.
Having consulted my dear friend and racing guru, the poet Jock Scott, and studied the form, it seemed logical that only one horse could win this race. The fact that Hedgehunter happened to be favourite, meant that either a lot of people had spoken to Jock on the same matter, or it was actually in with a chance.
At ten to four, the bets were placed at Paddy Powers, then I returned to the pub.
To assuage my guilt somewhat, I placed small bets for the Mrs and Nipper - Forest Gunner - piloted by a lady, and L'Aventure - being the youngest horse ...very long odds, but a caravan holiday in Skegness if it romped home.
Watching the race was the nearest to a religious experience I've had all weekend - the burial of pope John Paul coming in a close second. ( if the selector's for Ava's C of E primary school are reading this, please ignore the above, or grant artistic license)
The pink faced boozers, now turning purple, frail old frames tottering on crutches, necking pints and chasers, roaring, guffawing and swearing. What an atmosphere.
Hedgehunter romped in by a mile, leaving me £40 to the good, even with my guinness expenditure.
Well thankyou Hedgehunter. You took Mr and Mrs Moore and their delightful child out for dinner. Your victory, circumvented any slight awkwardness about spending the afternoon in the boozer and bookies, and even earned me a lie-in today. Oh the delights of being a slack dad.
Keep up the good work.