The office Christmas party. That bizarre annual event where people usually forced to spend large amounts of their time together daily in the name of wages suddenly come together of their own free will for one night only in the name of festive cheer and camaraderie.
A calamitous, riotous, Jaeger-soaked occasion. At best, it’s f**king awkward. At worst, people lose teeth and sometimes their livelihoods. This year it was decided we were going to Sunderland greyhound stadium on Friday night. I mean, are you kidding me? For a man with my gambling and booze demons this could surely never, ever end well?
There was a waitress coming to our table to take bets and so as not to raise the suspicion of colleagues I joined them in having £2 singles and £2.50 reverse forecasts. Unbeknown to them I was also gambling on my mobile and after three races was £180 in the hole. Carol from accounts knew there was a rabbit off when I crushed a giant Yorkshire pudding into a plate with my fist, sending gravy in all directions, when the four dog was just edged out by Trap 2 in the 20:10 race.
I was over £250 down and bitterly quaffing bottles of San Miguel by the time the 21.32 race rolled round. I had a desperate £16 forecast on 1-3 and could not believe my eyes when Ferndale Tiggy (Trap 1) romped home and was followed by 8/1 chance Silverhill Park (Trap 3). The Christmas miracle had arrived and I had been able to avoid bumping the taxi home.
The rest of the night was a bit of a blur but I somehow managed to keep the wheels on. Unlike one of our managers who after claiming all week they were “only staying out for a few” ended up demanding shots at 1:38am (with a tie wrapped round his head and his shirt undone to the naval). Scenes.
Having completely lost patience with my dodgy box (which in the end turned out to be dodgier than ISIS – thus making any attempts to watch live sport futile), I bit the bullet and got back into bed with Rupert Murdoch on Sunday.
The monthly Sky bills might be eye-wateringly high but watching 4K on a new 44″ Ultra HG TV that was thrown in gratis (thanks Rupert) meant I was very much back amongst it. Of course, when ‘er indoors queried whether the new arrangement would mean an increase in my gambling output I lied and said “of course not”, having already had bets on Real Betis, Liverpool and both teams to score in the 4pm Everton v Manchester United game. I spent the full day on the couch in my duds eating Wham bars and watching live sport while muttering “life is glorious” under my breath.
Sunday night also saw the grand finale of l’m A Celebrity.
I’d been watching the show for weeks having lumped over £200 on Gogglebox star Scarlett Moffatt at 15/8. My rationale was simple. Anyone who has spent their life living in Bishop Auckland wouldn’t be a**ed about jumping in a sealed cave with a load of rats or feasting on cow anus.
Indeed, I beamed with a strange sense of pride a while back as I saw her eating camel nipples with Carol Vorderman. The celebrity world – a world where Harry Styles has over 29.5million Twitter followers – can be a bleak and unforgiving place sometimes, but fair f**ks to Moffatt for keeping it together and holding off the challenge of “comedian” Joel Dommett to give me some gambling ammo in the run up to Christmas.
Cheeky’s Punt of the Week: Tottenham to beat Manchester United at 13/5 (Paddy Power)