I had reached rock bottom on Wednesday. Christmas and big-wheeling it in Edinburgh over New Year had left me potless, and with a full nine days to go until payday I had the grand total of 90p in the bank. Now I have been in some tight spots financially over the years but even in these times of austerity it was asking a lot for me to survive on a daily budget of 10p.
I think it was Joseph Addison who said, “Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” Naturally I was hoping for a pull-out and unbelievably it came my way courtesy of an Irish bookmaker.
I was scouting around my betting accounts (not unlike a drug addict scouring the floors for crumbs of crack in a crack den) at 7pm on Wednesday evening when I realised that Paddy Power had given me a free £50 bet. Before you could say ‘compulsive’ I had stuck the nifty on Everton to beat Manchester City and both teams to score at 4/1.
The Toffees put in a fine shift but after 70 minutes the score was 1-0 to the hosts, meaning my bet looked like going pear-shaped. Cue a miraculous passage of play when City equalised through Jesus Navas only for Everton to regain the lead courtesy of Romelu Lukaku. When the latter nodded home to make it 2-1 I screamed, in my best Rab C Nesbitt voice, “helllloooo Mary Doll,” before doing an impromptu Nae Nae in front of the TV.
I watched the last 10 minutes or so through my fingers but the final whistle brought scenes of jubilation both at Goodison Park and Chez Punt, where just four hours earlier I had suffered the ignominy of eating a plate of garden peas, on their own, for my tea.
Last Friday wasn’t a vintage day. It started badly after I lost £90 punting Melbourne Victory to beat Central Coast Mariners at 4/9 in the Australian A-League very early doors. A thrilling contest ended 3-3 Down Under meaning I was chasing losses so early in the morning the old Aquafresh toothpaste was still tingling in my mouth.
Things then went from bad to worse in the afternoon when my nap to win the BDO darts, Glen Durrant, somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at the Lakeside.
I was on the Middlesbrough arrow-slinger at 9/4 before the event started, and before his quarter-final with Scott Waites, ‘Duzza’ had not lost a set and was looking every inch the main man.
So when he went 4-2 up in sets and 2-0 up in legs (in a best of five encounter) I was already mentally plotting his route to the final.
Then, sadly, his a*se started nipping and the wheels fell off. He blew the seventh set and by the time Waites levelled up at 4-4, ‘Duzza’ looked every inch a beaten man. Which of course he was as he shambled to a deciding set defeat while puffing out his cheeks and sporting the bemused look of a man who had just had his b*llocks tickled unexpectedly by a fiendish GP.
If all that wasn’t bad enough, Friday also saw a government announcement that they were revamping their guidelines on alcohol – as well as warning us there is no such thing as a safe level of drinking.
Men’s recommended units were slashed from 21 to 14. 14 f*cking units? It would seem the suits of Westminster are confusing a safe weekly limit with what I like to call ‘lunch’.
It’s sh*te getting old. Let me explain. Saturday was FA Cup third round day. Once upon a time, as a youth, the air would have been filled with romance and I would have been a bundle of nervous energy ahead of my team Hartlepool’s third-round clash with Derby County. I’d have been at the ground for 1pm mooching for autographs and taking it all in, all the while clasping a match programme and Greggs sausage roll. But the 36-year-old version of me didn’t even go to the game. The reasons were two-fold. One, I thought we’d get spanked by the Rams. And two, going to the match would invariably blow the lid off my attempt at dry January.
Instead I spent the day in a seedy downtown bookies, waxing money I didn’t have on nags that wouldn’t put out at Kempton, Lingfield and Chepstow.
There are few more depressing places on earth than a betting shop when you are doing your conkers. Everybody and everything was irritating me. And I was getting reports that the game at Victoria Park was a cracker. I was feeling mighty sorry for myself, until ‘he’ walked in. ‘He’ being a lad in my year at school who, to combat the elements (it was p*ssing down outside) had put a hole in the top of a giant Aldi ‘bag for life’ and was using it as a makeshift poncho!
It kind of put things in perspective. Granted things were bad, but not ‘F*ck it I’m passing off a carrier bag as a coat’ bad.
Cheeky’s Punt of the Week: Arsenal to beat Liverpool at 13/8 (bet365)