No Socks

Today was one of those days I like to call no socks days. They are basically days where you don’t do much, and the things you do do don’t require the use of socks. I re-installed windows on my computer (A test version of Windows 7), this time without loosing all my data. Caught up on Click, the BBC technology program, and generally chilled out.

Those who read with a keen eye may have noticed I was supposed to be working today, well I worked on Friday and they told me that I wasn’t needed on Saturday. Because they are training up people for Ascot next week, those yet to go to a race day were given priority over me because they needed the practice, whereas I’m already brilliant at my job, obviously :-)

Work on Friday was particularly slow, it was a quiet day and I only made 97 sales, nothing compared to the 300’s I was taking for the Derby.

Thursday with dad was a day well spent. Good Father-son time spent in the shadow’s of a huge house listening to “Life, The Universe & Everything”, the 3rd book in Douglas Adam’s superb trilogy of 4 books (which has 5 books in it). Possibly the best books you’ll ever read, especially for the wit and humour of Douglas Adams, who has the ability to make you see the universe in a new light. Just take Bistromatics for example. I love these books, it’s just such a shame more of society hasn’t read them as quotes from them are lost on most people.

Tomorrow I’m going to Sophie’s house to watch Down To You, something we’ve been meaning to watch for ages.

Hope you all have a great weekend, and make sure your next relaxation day is a No Socks Day.

Country roads

The last few days I’ve taken the exit at the junction and rolled onto country roads. There’s not as much traffic, and we’re not going as fast, but the air is cooler and the scenery is pleasant. I’ve met a few hitch-hikers along the way, Alan gave me a wonderful meal on Sunday, I went climbing with Lauren on Tuesday and I met up with some old-skool friends on Wednesday to watch a film.

Tomorrow my dad’s taking the wheel and driving us down to an old house he be renovating some way outta’ town. We might find a local bar to sit in for a while, maybe find this stream called the Thames.

On Friday & Saturday I’m switching modes of transport onto horse. I won’t actually be riding, just taking all the bets at Sandown racecourse. A man’s got to earn a living some hows.

Now today y’all gots a special treat, pictures of me buried in Brighton stones…

090603 Brighton (From Iola) (2) 090603 Brighton (From Iola) (3) 090603 Brighton (From Iola) (4) 090603 Brighton (From Iola) (5) 090603 Brighton (From Iola) (6) 090603 Brighton (From Iola) (7) 090603 Brighton (From Iola) (8) 090603 Brighton (From Iola) (9)

I’ve started an album on Facebook for all my summer pictures, I’ll be updating it with new pictures as I take them, so it’s worth a look.

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2026050&id=1293892814&l=469b1faaf1

I’ll make sure I mention on here anytime there’s an update.

PS: Apologies for the questionable sanity of this post, I’ll make sure to make it better next time…

Special Post #13: Tote, unlucky for some…

Second post in an ongoing mini-series about my first ever job as a Tote betting assistant.

I love working with Tote. Essentially the job is merely regurgitating what people tell you into a till, but because of the wide variety of customers and the nature of the job, it can be as interesting as you make it. A lot of people ask for information ranging from “what is tote?” to “what are the odds on this horse in the next race?” to “what is a reverse forecast?”. Here’s your guide to Tote people-spotting:

  • The seasoned pro’s. These are the one’s that place what tote like to call the “exotic bets”, maybe picking 1st, 2nd and 3rd in a race, for example. They tend to study the screens and/or a newspaper for a long time, then (usually about 10 seconds before the race starts) place a really complicated bets with many permutations, which you then have to process before betting closes for that race.
  • The lads. Essentially the wannabe seasoned pro’s who’ll have competitions between themselves as to who can win the most money. These people usually place stupid combinations of bets, such as 5 win bets. I don’t know about you but I’ve never seen five horses collectively win a race.
  • The ladies. Can be noticed from their attire (usually understated dress and overstated hat) and because their husband will had over a £20 note to her before she approaches. She will then place a simple win or each way bet giving the horse name instead of its number.
  • The groupie. A group of girls who can barely walk through combination of ridiculous footwear and alcohol consumption. They will need an explanation of what “pool betting” is and a tip of horse to pick for the race. The latter is best resolved by handing over the race card and instigating a choice based on jockey colours (usually resulting in the pinkest, gayest jockey colours being picked).

The take home rule of betting is: the house always wins. And never was there a better example than on Saturday when I cashed out over £2,500 profit at my till alone.

I’m working for Tote this week on Friday and Saturday at Sandown Racecourse and I’m really looking forward to it. More excitingly though, it’s only a week until Royal Ascot!

Juggling

Life is all about balance. And no more has this made more sense to me than in the past week…

All year I’ve been holding things off until “after my exams” to the point that now I more things to do than Gordon Brown has resignation letters.

Here’s the list, in what I guess could be priority order (if you find your task low down on this list then don’t worry, if it’s on the list it will be done!)

  1. Continue to build website for Quondam girls society
  2. Produce centenary video for St Stephen’s Church
  3. Organise bank account to pay rent into for house
  4. Fix a broken laptop
  5. Get a computer sorted for Victoria
  6. Build Josh a computer
  7. Fix the Parish Office computer (this one’s pre-emptive)
  8. Install Windows 7 RC on my computer
  9. Copy Olu’s tapes to DVD
  10. Cook for the family
  11. Help design a PowerPoint presentation for Stage Crew to show at fresher’s fair
  12. Sell my Knex on eBay (unless you want it)
  13. Find a new current account
  14. See the new Star Trek film
  15. Organise boat trip

And there are probably some I’ve forgotten. To be honest, once the first 2 are out the way I’ll be half way there. It’s all about prioritising tasks and managing your time effectively.

On top of all that I’ve obviously been working for Tote for the last 3 days, giving me pretty much no time to get anything done.

Don’t let this put you off, this isn’t a moan, in fact it’s quite the opposite. I love being busy, I just don’t like letting people down; and I worry that sooner or later I won’t be able to do something in time for someone.

  • Happiness: 8/10
  • Tiredness: 6.5/10
  • Last meal: At Quiz Night (thanks everyone!)
  • Song of the day: The King Blues – My Boulder
  • Thought for the day: Don’t bet £500 on a horse to win only to find that it comes second. Bad times…

Special Post #12: Tote, “And they’re off!”

This post is the first in a mini-series on my first ever job, at the Tote…

Sometime shortly after returning to university after Easter while me and Josh were revising, Josh heard about a company offering jobs to students for a week over the summer with a possibility of future work. That company was called the Tote.

For those who don’t know, the Tote is a pool betting organisation owned by the government. They take bets at racecourses for every horserace in the county, every day of the year. Instead of a traditional bookmaker offering odds on a horse to win, the Tote put all the stakes into a ‘pool’, which is then divided out amongst the winners. If you don’t understand it yet, then I’m gonna give up…

Anyway, so both me and Josh applied for a job and were invited to a training day at Ascot racecourse. The date was set for the 28th, which was the Thursday of the last week. Since this was after our exams we both accepted.

On the morning of the training day I woke up to a phone call from Josh:

  • Josh: “Have you got your photograph?”
  • Me: “What?”
  • Josh: “It said in the email that we need a passport-sized photograph”
  • “What email?”

As you can tell I hadn’t been told anything about the training day, but Josh had. Basically I needed several things:

  1. Photocopy of passport (luckily Josh had a scanner so that was done very easily)
  2. White shirt, trousers, shoes (Luckily dad hadn’t collected all my things yet so I still had those)
  3. Filled out application form (what application form?)
  4. Packed lunch (ah, with my food resources being overdrawn, this one could be tricky)
  5. Passport-sized photograph (nope, not a single one)

After panicking a little I came up with a plan. We went to the train station and took passport photos in the photo booth, bought a sandwich from the WH Smiths at the station, and got Josh to print off an extra form for me to fill out on the train journey there.

We got there on time and were given an introduction to Tote and how they operate. In the afternoon we we’re taught how to use the Tote Betting Machines to take all types of bets. This would have been fine had my machine not broken about 2 minutes in. But they quickly put me on another machine and I was away.

The second part of training is to attend a live race day and be shadowed by another member of staff. Me and Josh choose Sandown racecourse on the 4th July.

Despite the lack of any proof that we were employed by Tote we managed to get onto the racecourse and were assigned to staff members. I was with Ken in the imperial suite, which is a private function room that had been hired out by a group of 40 or so people who we would place bets for. It was great fun, Ken let me operate the till while he handled the money, and by the end of the meet I was getting pretty quick at taking bets.

It was quite funny when the first customer came up and asked me how long I’d been working for the Tote, to which I had to reply “Well, your my first customer.”

After successfully balancing at the end of the day, I felt quite chuffed. It was very diverse to take all the various bets and give information and advice as well.

I was then offered a job working the Derby on Friday and Saturday, to which I could hardly refuse.

So that brings us up to date. Today was my first day at the Derby, working on my own and taking bets. It was a really interesting day with a whole range of people taking bets. One guy won £483.50 from a £5 bet, not bad by my standards. He now goes down as the highest payout I’ve had to give, and the most number of sales in one day was 264, 65 up on Thursday when I took 199 bets. Tomorrow is supposed to be very, very busy, so wish me luck (get it)!

Excursion to Brighton

Where we left off…

Mum and dad picked me up from the crew BBQ on Sunday and we got my things and said goodbye to cathedral court for the last time. Once home it became apparent that the addition of a double bed in my room would make unpacking interesting…

Monday. Up nice and early to go swimming with James. There is hands down no better way to start the week than getting a refreshing swim in. After that is was over to Graeme’s for a talk about the quiz night on Saturday and catching up. The afternoon was spent attempting to unpack all my belongings into my room. To make this easier, anything I’m not going to need in the next 4 months has been designated a spot in the study where it will live until such time that it will return to Guildford to sit in another room untouched for 6 months.

Tuesday. Finally that lie-in I’ve been waiting for. Got up at 2:30pm and worked on a website for the rest of the day.

Wednesday. I went off to Brighton with Josh, his girlfriend and his sister. We had a great day in the beach, exploring the pier and the little lanes. Fish & Chips for lunch, burying me in the stones, a spot of gambling, shopping, Nando’s and back on the train. All in all, a wonderful day. I think I could really get used to this group, we all get on really well and have lots to talk about. Can’t wait until our next excursion.

090603 Brighton (1)

Left to Right: Josh, Jess (Josh’s Girlfriend), Iola (Josh’s Sister), Me

Expect more pictures soon (maybe, my camera ran out of juice so I’m relying on Iola and Jess).

  • Happiness: 8/10
  • Tiredness: 6/10
  • Last meal: Nando’s
  • Song of the day: Jason Mraz – Details In The Fabric
  • Thought for the day: “I smell like a chocolate urinal” — Me after trying on many different spays in boots.

Special Post #11: The forgotten bits

This post will cover the parts of the last week that are easily forgotten. These are the little things that make the week special, not a night in a club, but a small part of the bigger picture.

1. The Notebook – In the last week I read The Notebook by Nicolas Sparks. It’s similar to the film, but easier to be drawn in by the sadness of it all. Essentially a love story about a summer romance that was never forgotten, it tells a heart-breaking story of Allie and Noah meeting again after 14 years apart. It’s a testament to the book that I read it in 2 days, the quickest I’ve ever read a book. The writing style is very cut and dry, telling the story straight without drooling on for paragraphs with descriptive prose. Overall I would put it as a must, must read for anybody who wants to feel the beauty of true love is possible. I’ll stop now before I loose all my manly-ness.

2. MadTV – This is the group I am part of that is trying to create a weekly show for the students of Surrey University. I am now the Technical Director and therefore in charge of filming and editing all the shows. We had a meeting to discuss the plans for next year such as getting new talent and starting up a sort of soap opera.

3. Packing – When dad came round on Thursday and we borrowed a Tesco shopping trolley to move my things from my room to the car. The problem is we only had this bright idea on the last trip!

4. Colorweb – Stage crew hired a giant ‘web’ of lights to backdrop the stage for end of year show. It looks absolutely amazing and was great fun to play around with. God only knows what it must’ve looked like if you were drunk and wearing 3D glasses…

5. Gibbo DJ – One of my friends, Tom (AKA Gibbo) managed to get a one hour DJ slot in the unions bar below Rubix on Thursday night. Have to say it wasn’t exactly my kind of music, but it was cool to have someone you know DJ-ing!

6. Ghostbusters – One of stage crew’s traditions is to dance to Ghostbusters whenever it is played. This happened twice this week in quite a cool way. On Thursday Gibbo played a punk version as part of his set and on Friday the 3D-Disco people played it with 3D ghosts coming out of the screens! Both quite new takes on the usual.

7. Pan-Tilt – Getting to play with the new remote control camera from stage crew on friday. It’s about twice the size of the other cameras we have of that type and can take some pretty cool shots. Boys and their toys…

8. The Lake – I know I was only going to do specifics but the whole lake party was magic. I managed to bump into pretty much everyone I’ve met in my first year at uni. Stage crew, housemates, course friends, new housemates, other friends, it was just such a great night.

I’m sure there’s more, and I know there are a few I haven’t mentioned, but you get the idea.

I don’t want to say that it was the best week of my life, because it also had the biggest low point, leaving!