I was in the newsagents at the weekend and found myself discussing the advantages of online betting with a friend. We laughed and I realised and accepted Dad’s new influence and the need I have to assist him.
Not for the first time I reminisce.
Dad has always liked a flutter on the horses and I remember it being a source of conflict as I was growing up. It was no secret that Mum disapproved. But those days are long gone and nowadays his interest not only gives him something to look forward to but helps keep the old grey matter functioning. Dad’s that is, not mine.
A newly established Saturday morning routine involves scouring The Racing Post with his grandson or son or both for potential winners. He’s quietly enthusiastic and takes his time. They know he won’t disclose his choices until they’ve made theirs. It’s funny and seeing him like this lifts my mood. There’s a sense of normality about it all. I’m usually doing something else, like putting the kettle on or tidying or writing lists. I’m good at that. But through necessity my role is changing. It has evolved beyond domesticity as I have now undertaken sufficient training in the art of online betting. This allows me to place a bet when the boys aren’t around. It’s quite a responsibility you know and I’ve become quite efficient.
Even though the newspaper is in front him, opened at the correct page and the television is all set, sometimes Dad forgets the racing is on, switches channels and misses it. Sometimes he remembers the racing is on and in a bid to find the right channel finds ‘Open All Hours’ and ends up laughing out loud at the antics of Ronnie Barker instead. So the racing is forgotten. Temporarily.
He’s unlikely to forget to ask how his horses got on. And he’s quicker still to calculate his winnings. It’s reassuring to know that, for a time, some things remain the same.