DESPITE being a raging hypochondriac, I’ve always been in pretty good health. Well, apart from a dodgy knee that’s required three operations, and a touch of hay-fever.

I’ve been happily married for more than 30 years. I’m blessed with four children who’ve grown up into nice adults. And now I have a little granddaughter who lights up my life whenever she walks into the house.

In many ways, I know I’m extremely fortunate. But when it comes to the horses, I’m convinced there can’t be an unluckier man anywhere in the world.

Horses have been one of my passions since childhood. My fondest memories of time spent with my late Dad were days out at the races: Redcar, Teesside Park, Catterick, Ripon, Thirsk, Newcastle and – for a special treat – our annual summer coach trip to mix with the posher racegoers at York.

As I’m sure you can imagine, it was one of the proudest moments of my life when I started my journalistic career on the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph and they made me the paper’s tipster because they’d never had anyone who was remotely interested in racing.

“We’ll call you The Baron,” said the editor. Not Only was I the tipster but I had a nom de plume!

I was tasked with giving three tips every weekend, but it all ended in tears when I went six weeks without tipping a horse that finished in the first three. “You couldn’t tip rubbish, son,” said the editor as he gave me the sack.

To be quite honest, it’s never got any better over the three decades that have followed, and the bad luck continued last weekend when I had a trip to Redcar Races.

There were eight races during the day and, naturally, I had a bet in each of them. Nothing too daring – just a few quid – but, despite studying the form intently, not one of my horses came close to looking like it might pass the post first. One of them even refused to go into the starting stalls so I didn’t even get a run for my money.

My luck was sealed in the final race of the day…I was standing by the winning post, hoping to cheer my horse to victory. To my despair, it trailed in plum last. In fact, it was so far behind the others that it had slowed to a walk by the time it reached the final furlong.

As it trudged past me, SPLAT! The right shoulder of my new suit was hit by a large quantity of a horrible gooey substance that splashed up onto my chin and into my ear.

Backing your eighth loser of the day is bad enough – but when the moment of defeat coincides with being pooed on by a seagull, you start to wonder if the sporting gods are trying to tell you something.


My grand-daughter Chloe, aged two-and-a-half: “Mummy I love you.”

Mummy: “What are you after, Chloe?”

Chloe: “Wowipop?”

A SCHOOL secretary, who asked to remain anonymous, remembered taking a telephone call, reporting that a boy would not be coming in due to illness.

Immediately suspicious, the secretary asked: “Who’s speaking please?”

“It’s his father,” came the reply.

“Can I take your name?” persisted the secretary.

“What do they call your dad?” she heard the call whisper.

ANOTHER conversation, this time between a classroom assistant and a reception class pupil, dressed as a fairy and waving a wand.

“Are you casting spells?” asked the assistant.

“No, I’m Stacey Anderson,” replied the little girl.