When I worked for Ladbrokes many years ago, I was running a shop on a council estate with a reputation for extreme night-time violence in one of the rougher neighbourhoods in south-west London. The customers were mixture of colourful characters, high rollers of questionable background, and at least one was a professional hitman. The local pub was a no-go zone where the local police were known to smoke dope. The previous manager of the shop told me to keep a bundle of cash in my shoes when I went to the bank in the morning, “for compensation”. It was your general rough-house.
There was a regular customer there who was a genuine nice guy who seemed to have everything, certainly in comparison to the majority of people in that area – he had a beautiful wife and lovely kid, he was fit and healthy, played a good standard of football (his true passion) and had his own business running a garage.
But he had no idea how to gamble, and he was bitten by the bug so bad that a demon would take him over. He could not separate the act of gambling with the money when he was winning and when he was losing he would deny the existence of money so that he could convince himself that he was not losing – he was going to hell in a handcart.
One day his demon manifested itself in such an extreme form that I had to take drastic action: It was a Saturday morning and he was gambling on the Hackney and Crayford morning BAGs (greyhounds) meetings. And doing quite well. In fact he pretty much cleared out my morning float and then some. Eventually, about 12.30pm, he had hit the bottom of my till and I couldn’t pay him anymore.
Knowing that he played football on Saturday afternoon I offered to keep hold of his slip for safe keeping and pay him out at the end of the day. That way – this being before night and Sunday racing – he would have at least a day of peace with cash not burning a hole in his pocket.
Off he went, perfectly happy to have hit the bookies, but it wasn’t long before the demon was back and begging for succour. That afternoon he rang three friends and begged them to สมัครเว็บบอล ufabet persuade me to cash his money so they could proxy bet for him. He even rang me up himself at half-time from the touchline during his regular Saturday game and begged me to put a bet on for him. I said no.
But, sure enough, he was back in the shop an hour later – still in his football kit – and he spent an hour giving me back as much of his money as he could. I eventually kicked him out of the shop and told him to come back on Monday.
I wish there was a happy end to the story, but there just isn’t. I wish I could tell you that he saw the error of his ways, or he won so big one day that he could retire from gambling and live a happy and fruitful life. I wish.
But no. He left my shop that afternoon, went home, put a suit on and went up West to the casinos in West Kensington and lost the lot – a redistribution of wealth from one bookie to another.
His wife and little kid went without money for the last time and left, his garage went to pot in a pile of gambling debts. The last time I saw him he was trying to blag money of my customers. Last I heard he was living rough..