The rules for having a punt on your birthday. Champagne, laughter and ignore the tipster.

July 14, 2012

We’re off to a birthday party today.

Not just any gathering. A much-loved friend is celebrating one of the Biggies.

I’m too much of a gentleman to give her age away. Let’s just say her 40th was a LONG time ago.

I’m not on the organising committee, but I’m guessing she’ll have a few champagnes as we gather to mark the day. And a wine. Or two.

The other birthday activity I’m confident she’ll be involved in is a bet. Because that’s what we do.

I have lots of friends who don’t need a special occasion to join in the punt. Many will do so on any day that ends in Y. Let me point out that the Birthday Girl isn’t one of them.

She saves her punting for special days. And she has certain betting characteristics that will set her out from the crowd.

There’s every chance that she’ll have all her bets in the one go, at the start of the day. There will be a pile of tickets filled out early, ready to feed through the machine.

They won’t be big plonks. Just a few dollars each. A trifecta or two. A jockey she likes. There could even be some names that tickle her fancy. And definitely nothing that I tip her.

More often than not, she’ll get hubby to put the bets on for her. Allows her to keep chatting. Today will be one of those days. He’ll walk off with a large bunch of betting slips, and a handful of notes and coins.

This is always amusing, because it takes some time to get the tickets done and dusted. He’ll be standing there for an age, with a line forming behind him. There may even be a scratching somewhere in the mix, that will delay him some more.

He is one of those special blokes who’s spent his life keeping the rest of us safe. Decades in the force, taking great joy in locking up grubs. And dealing with pressure to solve horrendous crimes, that few others have to experience.

For him, holding up a line of anxious punters is a walk in the park. All those times he’s stood in that queue, I’ve never heard him complain. Not once. He’ll return to the table, with the processed tickets, and a smile. Although he may have kept the change once or twice.

The Birthday Girl will win this afternoon. You can bet on that. It will be a nag that the rest of us have dismissed out of hand. No chance. She will spot something that we missed.

It will pay a heap. Which will add to our pain. She’ll let us know, with a laugh that rattles windows, and is music to the soul.

Hubby will be proud as punch of her. And not just because he might get a sling from the winning kitty. It’s just how they are.

She deserves the very best of days today, and that’s what we’ll give her. There was a savage battle not that long ago, that she faced head-on, with incredible courage and class. A foe that doctors had to tackle, not coppers. She’s winning that too.

And so we’ll celebrate, and be thankful that we have such a wonderful friend. Sometimes you don’t need much more than mates, laughter, and a few bets. Happy birthday Jacinta.

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Dads heading in the Wrong Direction. Trust me girls, there’ll be another boy band around the corner.

April 17, 2012

From Gladstone to Grafton and all i-pod docks in between, there is scented fury in the air.

The concert to end all concerts is coming to Brisbane. And no-one can get a ticket.

If you have a daughter, of any age, you would know this. The females are going wild about One Direction.

For the lucky few who’ve escaped the frenzy, possibly by being in a coma, let me explain. They’re a British band. Five ridiculously good-looking boys. With big smiles, and giant mops of hair, and voices like angels.

The lads are setting fashion trends. I saw one the other night wearing a powder blue suit coat. A sterilized version of Sir Les Paterson. Another had braces. On his pants, not his teeth. And no-one seemed to mind.

Their Australian concerts so far have been noisy, high-pitched affairs. The fans, and the boys. The madness will continue here tomorrow night.

Tickets sold out before the windows opened. Mostly, it seems, to FM radio stations. There are giveaways every few seconds. I know this, because all our radios have been switched to strange frequencies.

There’s a catch, of course. Those deep-voiced guys behind the microphone will only give the cherished prizes to older people, who are willing to make giant fools of themselves.

Sing your favourite One Direction song. Get a tattoo of your favourite band member. Impersonate a screaming schoolgirl. Want front row tickets? Try all of the above.

Of course, the youngsters think they’re the first to go nuts over some pimply boys. If only they knew.

Find a groovy grandma, and there’s every chance she was throwing her sensible underwear at the Beatles a few decades ago.

Years later, female schoolmates were going crazy over some of Australian music’s finest.

An old flame had a huge crush on Shirley from Skyhooks. She would fight to get to the front of the stage, and hurl suggestions at him that still make me blush.

A few others in the gang were Sherbert tragics. They would actually cry when Daryl Braithwaite and the other band members appeared on Countdown. The rest of us had no chance.

But they always managed to snare a concert ticket. Without making their parents become performing mules.

I only have a few hours left. Wish me luck. Or better still, send me two tickets. It will save me getting that stupid tattoo of some kid named Harry.