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A Horse with no name

I was reminded of this memory of my dad today when someone shared a picture of my old maths teacher on Facebook - the reason for this will become apparent! The title was chosen because that song was my dad's least favourite song ever!! Whenever I hear it I smile and think of him!

Saturday afternoons in our house when I was growing up tended to be a chilled out affair. Cobs for lunch followed by tea and cake in the afternoon (we could be posh when wanted to) all accompanied by the sport of kings on the box! Me, mom and dad chose a horse from each race and watched excitedly to see which one of us "won". If my dad had actually put on all the bets that he made with us he may have been a wealthy man - the ones he actually bet on were normally 3 legged donkeys!

Even as a young kid in primary school, I always had a thirst for knowledge and when one of us picked the winner or runner up of a race, I would ask dad "If we'd bet a pound, how much would we have won?" My dad was good at maths, especially mental arithmetic. His generation didn't have calculators - it disgusted him that we used them in maths lessons and even in exams! He could tell you in seconds what your winnings would be and how if it was each way it was 1/5 of the odds and how much that would be.

Now I know what you might be thinking - that's encouraging a child to gamble, it's disgraceful. You have to remember we were living in different times - the 80s and early 90s, and well, actually, I think that those afternoons with channel 4 racing and grandstand and trips to Ludlow races with my dad taught me to a have a healthier relationship with gambling than many of my peers do - there were no gambling apps back then and the National Lottery wasn't even invented! My dad's mantra was always "only bet what you can afford to lose" - he always had a budget of what he would spend per race when we went to the track at Ludlow every Christmas and he never went over it, he kept the winnings separately, never got greedy and never ever chased a loss!

Anyway, back to the story! I didn't realise it, but this ritual of watching the gee gees on Saturdays was a maths lesson in disguise! And this is why I was reminded of this today with the photograph of Mr Ralph Richards esquire, my year 7 maths teacher! You see although I studied maths up to A Level and got A* at GCSE and B at A level, it really didn't come easily to me. I remember being told not to expect an A at GCSE! However there was one maths lesson where I could shine!

Mr Richards was tasked with teaching us about probability and "odds" were part of that. He had an exasperated look on his face as he tried to explain the concept to us - a bunch of fresh faced 11 year olds. I mean thinking about it now I suppose the concept didn't really come naturally to most people. I honestly thought that everyone understood odds. It was only when I got older and met Mark who at age 40 had no idea about odds, had never been into a bookies and had certainly never written out a betting slip that I realised it was not something that everyone knew! In that year 7 maths lesson though, I was the only person who put their hand up to answer any of the questions! It's something that we have laughed about over the years - my dad was so proud! A simple Saturday afternoon pursuit helped spark an interest and confidence in maths that I had never had!

It's the simplest thinks that make the biggest impact and leave a lasting impression! I can never see a bookmakers now without thinking of my dad and Mr Richards!! Thanks Dad for teaching me so many life lessons and encouraging me to ask questions and never take things at face value!

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