Good evening from the Major who writes, well fed, the fattened pig in the comfort of a pleasant bland landscape in the corners of Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. Clouds cover my glorious night scape but at least they might offer some of you the comforts of nocturnal warmth. For me they bring no comfort. I prefer my winters biting, pale blue, white and the night black and to feel like an enemy, to be locked out but ever-present.
Tonight, I dined with the retired owner of the business I bought. Martin and his wife, fine people, own a fine home in a pleasant small village. They have 25 years on me and although I have kept a regular golf game going with Martin, we were still feeling our way through the formalities early on, like strangers but straining to show willing.
The lady of the house was perhaps the most concerned that her meal was well received. With the luxury of retirement they have perfected the skills required to deliver good food well. Fine lengths of curtains covered the church full height doors. The grandfather clock was well polished and the cheese knifes were beautifully ornate. A beautiful table, fine glass. We took prosecco in front of the roaring fire to start.
The food was excellent, I was not disappointed. A watercress and cream soup was fresh and cleared the palette, washed down with a lovely crisp Sancerre, I’m not modest enough to omit that it was one of the wines I had presented on arrival.
The good lady who had intended to drive was persuaded that a taxi was in order. I do love her. On our way home, she stressed that she should have driven, ah, my corruption of her only enriches her goodness.
The main course was a superb casserole style dish, though that introduction does little justice. Chicken, thigh meat I think and for you puritans, it brings a certain gamey taste that benefits a casserole more than a plain breast might. I could not identify the bean but the accompanying anya potatoes, tasty steamed vegetables and best of all, hearty fine fresh bread.
Home made carrot cake and vanilla ice cream before the cheeses which included a very good Gouda and a sweating superb Lancashire white cheddar. By this time we had moved onto the reds which included a nice Bordeaux decanted by the hosts and followed up by the St. Emilion I had bought.
I always take good wine because you want to be invited again. Also, I like to drink and one way to get your hosts to go at a decent clip is to reward them on the palate.
The proceedings might sound formal but as time went by, facades slipped, the grip was loosened on the earlier social rules. Laughter, insight, soulfulness, companionship. We all die in the end, never forget.
Taxi, home and a keyboard. Bed calling but here is the keyboard and here I am, my cruel mistress binding me to the solitude of the wee hours. She and I are well acquainted.
I spend a limited time content. I am not even sure what the ingredients are for that any more. There are some things I derive pleasure from but seemingly less so as time goes on. Is this the dimming of the spark, spat from the fire? An evening sky can still stir me from the acquiesce. Like a jolt to the system, purples and greys of a palette so intense, it is hard to deny the spectacle a certain divinity.
We dance for a short while.
If you had to guess the most important issues for humanity what would they be? I would think the following are the biggest risks in reverse order.
Nuclear conflict. The cat is out of the bag. We need trident. Pakistan became a nuclear power some time ago, North Korea and Iran will follow. A true WW3 could have devastating consequences. There is no rowing back from where we are.
Climate Change. You cannot deny that the planet is warming. Not on a trajectory to trouble us in a way we cannot manage but we are leaving major problems for the next generations, your children and their children. Once methane starts escaping from the frozen northern Russian tundra, the atmosphere will be more greenhouse than ever and surface ice on Earth non-existent. We might find a way to combat this technologically, we will need to.
Overpopulation. Compared to the others, this is the mothership. Can technology catch up and cope with the burgeoning population? Agriculture, advancement and the conversion of the carbon reserves locked in the Earth into useful energy have given us mastery of our humble rock. Yet, a number of deadly trajectories need addressing.
Water is running out, food is becoming more scarce, we use most available remaining land for agriculture but less land is available.
I don’t worry that we will run out of fossil fuels, technology means we can extract enough for an amount of time that will allow us to adapt a new supply. My concern would be the wider impact they have on the environment, the consequences of which, technology cannot yet cope with.
At some point, we have to face it, the Chinese were right, population control is desirable. That is flagrant abuse of a liberty, a human right we take for granted. Some things though cannot be left to the markets to resolve.
After the New Orleans Hurricane Katrina disaster, items like tents and torches were sold at eye watering prices in the locality leading to moral outrage. An outrage I did not share. Some things, markets can be relied on to resolve. If a tent, available for $50 in San Fransisco, New York or Mexico City can be sold for $400 in New Orleans, then supply will flood to that area, attracted to those profits. The extra supply will in the end, reduce prices more quickly. Think of the alternative, ban higher ‘gouging’ prices and what benefit is there for wholesalers of those products to make the extra effort to shift product there?
Not all things though are as easy to solve. I share the concern that energy and fish and agriculture and water will not, no matter what profit, be universally available on an infinite demand line. Some thought.
I’m drunk. I might regret all of this reading it in the morning.
Still, to the sports. A drunk tipster, that is what you need. It always was.
Charlie Hall Chase Day… We are off….
Here we are, Charlie Hall day. The day we wait for that signifies the return of our favourite racing calendar. The rhythm of which we know well.
The Major is in fine form. We had a few winners last week, including my Villa all in bet (I know). My 66/1 for them to win the league will look more sensible at Christmas, I hope they can draw 3 points from their tricky Midlands derby on Sunday but Blues will have been waiting for this one!
Anyway, I have a plump balance on account of some recent winners and let’s see how it might be wasted.
The Wetherby opener is the sort of tricky puzzle the Major loves because in the small number of runners, there are lines crossing, seductive puzzles and a certainty, one of them will win. I should charge for that insight.
Double W’s is set to go off at evens or worse favourite for the Jefferson team. Probably 7lbs for the Carlisle win is fair but I’d struggle to describe it as a house built on rock at those prices.
Solstice Star fared reasonably on his Uttoxeter run on Friday, 25l down but it seems a fair ask to dip in the well again so quickly, even if he runs.
Apterix is exactly the sort that might take to fences but Ellison is an enigma locked in a vortex of noise and I will never fathom or sense plans and favoured horses in that yard, if the money comes, I’ll be scared.
I am going to take a risk on Fou et Sage at 13/2 Bet Bright and 6/1 in several places. There are lots of facets to this. The French horse is hard to assess but the last two runs look OK and at least we know that a) he jumps fences and that b)he is fit. The fact he left Skelton is a concern and it hardly looks a conventional build up to a British NH season but early on, there might be some fun to be had with this one.
In the second, Miss Crick looks progressive and the Alan King string are in OK form. Mulholland is also scoring and Pass the Time is a serious concern. While both seem pretty progressive and either could win, I am minded to go with Miss Crick who won at Worcester like it was a routine. 9/4, lovely. Stephanie Frances could be a fly in the ointment if running to the form of last years shake up of The New One, but those were different circumstances… Miss Crick.
In the 2.45, I am backing another favourite in Ballyoptic at 2/1. This looks like a very high potential sort to me and thankfully there are enough proven runners to keep the price honest, I am lumpy.
Finally for me, as I do need to get to bed. The Charlie Hall.
The presence of Cue Card makes things tricky for me. Despite all, irrefutable evidence in my face, I remain stubbornly, perhaps obstinately welded to the fact that I have never been his fan. I regret it, a bit like Hurricane Fly, it was way too late until I saw what others had he privilege of foreseeing. At 8/11, surely I can find an opponent?
This is tricky. Dynaste of the Pipe yard has some class but Pipe runners are, like Ellison, a mystery to me.
Blacklion will be seen in best effect in heavy ground and a slog (in my view) and so is ruled out of this for the Major.
Menorah is not getting any younger but I fear ruling that one out because the ground matches and the horse is the sort to have a successful veteran career as a classy sort who takes fences well.
I am left with Virak and let us be honest. Not exactly the finest of opponents for Cue Card and if I cannot see past the favourite then I should not try to. Therefore, I back a third favourite in a row. Sue me.
Villa are my go to team at the minute and are not letting me down. Maybe that 66/1 will look sweeter with another couple of wins. However, I cannot back them to win a Midlands derby, a high-octane game that blues will have been waiting for and St Andrews salivating over.
Instead, Cardiff get the lump vote. New manager there too and the bounce factor is not to be knocked.
Courage friends, roll the dice.