THE MUSIC MAKER
Many years ago, I knew a man who claimed he made his living from betting on horses, although our conversations on the subject were consistently vague with any attempts to address concrete facts inevitably lost in a quagmire of obfuscation.
"How's the betting going, John?"
"Oh, you know, up and down. This month hasn't been great but February was brilliant. Couldn't stop winning."
"We're in December, mate. What happened in between?"
"Spurs are playing well, don't you think? My round..."
This general air of woolliness, coupled with John's passable impression of a man haunted by a varied selection of terrifying ghosts, led me to conclude that he didn't earn his living from outwitting the bookies at all and that he would cling to that mythical February for the rest of his days, convinced that twelve consecutive months in the same vein were always just around the corner.
Recently, I've had conversations with various blokes who say they make their money buying and selling stocks and shares. Oddly, they all have an uncanny air of John about them and our conversations are of a similar ilk.
"How are the stocks and shares going Gary/Paco/Simon/Pepe?"
"Well, it's all highs and lows as you'd expect but you should have seen me four weeks ago last Tuesday. Unstoppable."
"And the other days?"
"My round. Same again?"
And then there's crypto currency. This takes everything to a whole new level. As far as I understand it - which, admittedly, isn't very far at all - some people buy some other people's made-up money in the hope that it will increase in value because even more people want to buy it but there's not enough left and - crumbs, sorry, I nearly nodded off myself there. I can only imagine how you must be feeling.
The point is, surely, that all of these people are missing the, er, point. Even if you could earn your crust guessing which horse/business/invisible coin was going to succeed next, why would you want to?
It can't be a coincidence that all those city traders and horse trainers celebrate their successes with champagne because, as we all know, champagne tastes absolutely horrible and has an ephemeral quality to it that leaves the drinker feeling light-headed and achingly empty at the same time. By contrast, someone who's spent all day doing a proper day's work in a field, factory or office will - if they've got any sense - celebrate a job well done with a few pints of beer. Beer is, of course, a profound beverage which leaves a chap feeling simultaneously sated and content. Plus, it tastes nice.
I hope John's doing well these days - I'd love to buy him a pint.