We started the day with an interesting trip from our waterfront hotel to the Grand National meeting at Aintree, courtesy of a Scouse taxi driver who had clearly decided that red lights and speed limits only applied to other people. Gambling and I tend to be mutually exclusive thanks to a salutary lesson during my misspent youth, and half a dozen losers only served to reinforce that. The fact that three of them were second by less than a head, and the one in the National by a literal whisker, made it all the more masochistic. But the pain of losing didn't detract from what was a fantastic experience. The Grand National is an epic event, and, the tragic equine losses notwithstanding, a truly magnificent sporting occasion, with genuine superstars in the saddle and under it.
Seventy thousand people packed the Aintree stands and bars and if there's a recession I can assure you it hasn't reached Merseyside. I've never been anywhere like it for conspicuous consumption by loud young men in never-before-worn suits, and girls in skirts so short they didn't actually qualify, wearing skyscraper heels and trying valiantly to negotiate four flights of stairs. The ladies of Liverpool certainly know how to glam up for the big day. Elegant ball gowns were all the rage, with upper works (as George McDonald Fraser's Flashman would say) proudly on show. I surveyed all this young fashion with a fatherly affection, thinking 'You may one day regret having your young man's name tatooed on your neck in letters an inch high, my dear' and that the man who persuaded women that spraying themselves with mottled orange paint and calling it a tan was a good idea is one of the business geniuses of our age.
The least said about the evening the better. Suffice to say that being bought a double is only a good thing if you're not drinking large glasses of red wine and that the aforesaid red wine and something called a Jaegerbomb don't mix all that well. Being of more mature years I didn't even bother trying to persuade the groom to dress in anything stupid, but much respect to the chap in the banana suit and the bearded young man disguised as Snow White, leading his reinforced squad of dwarves on the road to ruin.
Roll on the wedding!