BACKING A LOSER

IT HAD to happen one day. With my youthful good looks and sprightly demeanour, I was sure to be asked for proof of age. I got the bus from Heaton into Newcastle city centre. The driver clocked my pass, and slowly shook his head. “I don’t think so,” he said, with a disbelieving air.

“Oh yes – it’s genuine” I assured him, perkily. “I am, actually, over 60.” Gosh, how smug I felt.
“I can see that,” he said, witheringly. “but it’s not valid ’til half past nine. It’s only 10 past.”  I handed over the fare, and made huffily for the ‘Please give up this seat for elderly or disabled passengers’ seat.  It was some small consolation.
Then this week, out of the blue, came an email from William Hill, bookmakers, asking for proof of age. Without it, my account could not be activated. I didn’t even know I had an account. Had I walked absentmindedly into the bookies in Hawes to place a bet? As I’d left, had one of the assistants rubbed her chin wonderingly and said to a colleague: “I can’t believe she’s over 18, can you? Better check with head office.”
But no: I remembered that for only the second time in my life, I’d gone online last Saturday to bet on the Grand National: a fiver each way on the horse that had been reared in an allotment from a mare that somebody had bought in a lay-by. I think that was the story. Anyway, it had seemed a worthy cause. It didn’t win, and I forgot about it – until the email.
I phoned William Hill to tell them there’d obviously been some mistake: I didn’t have an account with them, I’d just placed an each-way bet on probably the most famous steeplechase in the world. She checked my details. “You actually have two accounts. In two names. You must have placed a bet before. You can’t bet without an account.” Could I cancel them both, needing neither? “Not without proof of age,” she said.
I asked if unknowingly opening two accounts in two names to bet on two losing horses both of whom I’d completely forgotten about wasn’t proof enough. “No. You must send a photograph,” she insisted.
Well, that’s it then: they’ll never believe it.

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