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Monday 6th December

Lost a packet at the track today. My barber, who had me under his spell as he shaved with his customary manful indifference to the shedding of blood, advised me in no uncertain terms that betting was a mug's game, that there were idiots everywhere posing as turf savants, that going by the racing forms was little better than buying a dartboard and basing one's whole asset structure on where the darts stuck, that all jockeys were lying little hobbitses, that most racetrack touts couldn't differentiate between a fetlock and a housemartin and on and on. Wishing not to bleed any more than I already had, I chose to grunt my assent rather than nod, letting the shining Solingen steel blade move over my neck like a somnambulating cobra, if that's the phrase I want. He then put me onto a sure thing, a lead pipe cinch, a gem hiding under a toadstool named Hideous Kinky, a nag so blastedly slow that I believe she must be hobbling out there on the course still. Instinctively I had put everything but drinking money on her. So I finished up my afternoon and evening in the bar with my nose in the jar, adjusting life philosophies accordingly, that I may yet live another day, and come to better understand the tragedies that rain down on us like hail.

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