Sense Of Perspective

“That was,” said my wife last Friday morning, “the first time I have ever had three men in my bedroom.”

Before we go any further - if, after reading the opening line, you are expecting some salacious revelation about decadent behaviour in the Home Counties then you may as well go to another page as you are about to be disappointed.

This momentous event is my other half’s life occurred just before three in the morning last Friday.

Two of the men were paramedics and the third was me – being wired up to a heart monitor.

First of all let’s wind the clock back a couple of weeks.

At Royal Ascot I was based in the media centre, a windowless room in the bowels of the grandstand, in which I was surrounded by a number of coughing and spluttering overseas journalists.

Needless to say within a few days I had all the symptoms of ‘flu.

Was it Swine ‘Flu?

Who knows it was impossible to get a definitive answer using the recommended channels, suffice to say the worse was over in a couple of days although I was left feeling very tired ever since.

Life went on as normal, still doing an average of 1,000 miles a week going racing. True I was getting more tired, and more cantankerous and crotchety than usual, but stiff upper lip and all that – just carry on and don’t complain.

Last week began reasonably well, a couple of days off, following three enjoyable days at Ascot.

Wednesday was destined to be a long day, as part of my quest to visit every racecourse in the country each year, it was the turn of Perth – probably the most far flung course from where I live – but manageable as a day trip.

It was a case of the alarm going off at 4:30, eventually falling out of bed at 4:55 and out of the door by 5:15 for what should be a simple 35 minute drive to the airport.

Of course life is not that simple, on arrival at Luton the traffic into the airport was tailed right back to the main road, all thanks to confusion caused by the recently introduced drop-off charge.  In the end I arrived at the terminal building 45 minutes before the flight was due to take off. Luckily I had already checked in so it was a quick dash upstairs to security only to find an absolutely massive queue.

Luckily at Luton you can pay for fast-track security clearance – probably the best £3 I have spent in a long time. Anyway through security and a quick dash to the gate as the flight was about to board.

I slumped into my seat on the plane – my first chance to relax. After all the rushing the flight actually ended taking off 30 minutes late because of congestion – actually I did not mind that much as I would be arriving in Edinburgh six hours before the first race.

An extra delay coming into Edinburgh, where is was a glorious sunny morning – which makes a change as it usually rains when I go to Perth.

I finally picked up my hire car at 9:00 and thought I would head towards Perth, stopping off at Kinross services for a well deserved breakfast.

After breakfast I thought I would log onto my laptop to check the non-runners and could not believe my eyes when I saw the headline “Perth Cancelled” – I could not believe it.

Up at some ungodly hour, a rush to catch the flight only to find the meeting Cancelled due to waterlogging  - then to rub salt into the wounds the weather was now gloriously sunny.

To say I was unhappy would be an understatement.

I then contacted Easyjet to find the time of the next flight back to London – if it was early enough I may be able to take in either Goodwood or Sandown. Alas the next flight was 18:20, only 1½ hours before the flight I was already booked on.

So there I was stuck in Scotland with still near on eight hours to kill.

I was able to catch the 18:20 flight so was home by 20:30 – some 15 hours after I left home, having wasted a whole day, not to mention the cost of flights, car hire and parking and absolutely shattered – at least I slept well.  

Thursday was a “routine” day with racing at the relatively close Stratford.

Thursday evening was relaxing , a lovely meal for two then almost falling asleep in the chair and, because I was so tired, a relatively early night – in bed just after ten and asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

It was around 2:30 that I woke up – feeling incredibly dry – mouth and throat like the bottom of a birdcage. That feeling you have in the morning after a heavy drinking session the night before – only this time I had not been drinking.

Of course Sods Law dictates this would be the one night I don’t have any water by the bed. So I go downstairs grab a bottle of water, bring it up to the bedroom. Only to find the walk back up the stairs had left me breathless.

Mental note to me – get some more exercise.

Take a swig of water, lie back down – next thing I know I can hardly breathe and there is an elephant standing in the middle of my chest.

I sit up in bed and my other half stirs.

“Are you alright?” she asks.

With typical British understatement I reply, “um no, not really, would you mind ringing for an ambulance please.” I was always bought up to say please and thank you.

And that is why my wife had three men in her bedroom on Friday morning.

So what does this have to do with racing I hear you ask?

Well an experience like that one does tend to concentrate the mind and puts things like racing into perspective.

Like what really is the point of trying to visit every UK race course at least once during the year?

What does it achieve, what does it prove?

Yep, absolutely nothing, except perhaps I have more money than sense.

What is the point of driving 1,000 miles a week just to go racing?

None whatsoever if you try and rationalise it.

It has certainly reminded me, forcibly, I am no spring chicken and I do not have the same stamina and energy I had, twenty, ten, even five years ago.

Most of all it bought home to me that racing is only a sport, OK a bloody enjoyable one, but only a sport nonetheless and despite what the late, great Bill Shankley suggested – it ain’t more important than life or death and it certainly worth
killing yourself for.

It puts the sport into perspective.


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