We were working for the races. Doing security. Checking tickets for the VIP stadium where you had the best view of the track. Paddy was at the bottom door, an eccentric mid fifties. He opened with: ‘Hey, Micky…?’
I was at the middle door. Pretended I didn’t hear him. The he said again: ‘Hey, Micky…?’
‘Was there many here last night?’
‘A good few.’
‘A good few?’
‘A few thousand I suppose?’
‘Around that yeah.’
‘Around that. Ok. What time was the last race?’
‘Eight or so.’
‘Did you back any horses?’
‘No, Paddy, never really my thing. And we’re not really supposed to.’
‘Oh yeah, oh yeah.’
A rich couple walked up to my door, his suit, her feather hat, she asked: ‘Where do I go?’
I asked: ‘Where do you want to go?’
‘Well…’ she said: ‘Here?’
‘Ok, upstairs or downstairs?’
This was when she produced her ticket and said: ‘What does this say?’
I read it, went: ‘You’re in the wrong building.’
She revved all her wealthy horsepower and said: ‘No, we’re not. Sheila said to come here.’
‘She organised it.’
Your man chimed in then, with: ‘We’re here for dinner with Sheila.’
‘Well you have tickets for the other side of the stadium…’
‘The OTHER side?!’ She said. ‘But Sheila said to come here.’
‘Sheila was wrong.’
Your man had the phone out now.
Then three underage came along and tried to slip in behind me.
I stopped them with a hand and said: ‘Tickets?’
They all said together: ‘Tickets?’
And they disappeared. Meanwhile, your man was off the phone and said: ‘Sheila said we’re to go across to the other side of the stadium.’
‘Ok.’ I said.
‘This is ridiculous.’ Said your one.
‘I’d hate to see this place if there was a fire.’ Said your man. And they went away.
Paddy was waiting patiently at his door. The he said: ‘Hey, Micky….?’
‘What was wrong with blondie?’
‘Wrong tickets, oh yeah. Do you think we’ll be late tonight, Micky?’
‘Not sure, Paddy. Depends on the crowd.’
‘Depends on the crowd. Oh yeah. Do you like this job, Micky?’
‘It’s ok, Paddy.’
‘They’re nice people, aren’t they, Micky?’
‘They’re not too bad.’
‘Ruby Walsh is riding later too, Micky.’
‘He is, Micky. Will you back him?’
‘We’re not supposed to back horses, Paddy.’
‘Oh yeah, oh yeah.’
A woman came along and said: ‘I’ve no ticket but my kids don’t know I smoke, so can I slip out there for a quick pull?’
‘Go on, so.’
She went outside. Braced the wind as she lit up, dragged hard and exhaled into the gratified cold. Paddy didn’t say anything this time. We just sorta stood like sentries til something happened.
That’s when mass started downstairs.
The priest could be heard over the speakers blessing the track, and the punters, and wishing everyone luck.
After, the commentator went through the line up. There was talk about Ruby Walsh but not much. I looked over and Paddy was gone somewhere. Probably to the jacks or for a sandwich or something. The woman came back from outside and said thanks and then she said she was rushing to put a bet on.
Few minutes later, the next race was on and Paddy was back and it was busy. Jimmy the supervisor came and he was holding a betting slip in his hand. I said: ‘What’s that?’
‘Got a good tip.’ He goes, ‘from a steward. Ruby Walsh.’
‘Are we allowed bet?’
He shrugged, said: ‘Depends.’ And walked off.
Later, when it was calm again, and the crowd were gone for a drink before the next race, it was just me and Paddy. I waited for him to open as I knew he would.
‘Hey, Micky?’ He said:
‘Did you back Ruby Walsh?’
‘I didn’t Paddy, no. Did he win?’
‘He did, came in at 22-1.
‘Good man, Paddy.’
‘You’d right to back him.’
‘How much’d you win, Paddy?’
‘I don’t know yet. I have to collect it. Do you think I should go and collect it, Micky?’
‘You better, Paddy.’
‘Do you think?’
‘Will I go now?’
‘Right so, Micky. Thanks.’
‘No problem, Paddy.’
‘It’s not a bad job when you make this kinda money, sure it isn’t, Micky?’