Bet on it

BOOKIES were in the news this week with the resignation of the English sports minister Tracey Crouch in a row over betting machines. It reminded us that Diary readers could still have a laugh at the bookies despite any losses. Like the Glasgow chap on a family holiday pony trekking in the Lake District who was a bit dubious about the venture, and asked his wife as they put their riding helmets on: "How can I pick the slowest one?" "Put a bet on it," his wife replied. "That usually works for you."

Tourist tapped

A READER on holiday in New Orleans passed a boy of about eight tap-dancing on Decatur Street in the French Quarter who called out: "Hey, mister. Betcha a dollar ah can tell you where you got yo' shoes".

Said our reader: "Having just arrived in town and not being aware that M&S had opened a branch in the Big Easy, I rose to the bait and took his bet. To which he replied, 'You got them on yo' feet. Welcome to N'Awlins, mister!'"

Going for Gold

THE Ayr Gold Cup meeting is a splendid day at the races, but the combination of betting and drinking all day can lead to a few domestic tiffs. An Ayrshire taxi driver a few years ago told us he was supposed to pick up a couple from the races but the chap's wife jumped in by herself, slammed the door shut on hubby, and shouted out the window to him, in not very friendly terms, that he could walk home.

Five minutes into the journey she orders the driver to stop, and go back for hubby. "Forgiven him, have you?" asked the driver. "Naw," she replied. "He's goat the house keys.”

Trot on

WE also heard about a Renfrewshire businessman who had set his heart on owning a racehorse but before buying one, contacted a vet to check the animal out. After watching the vet look the animal over, he excitedly asked: "Will I be able to race him?" "Sure," replied the vet, before adding: "And you'll probably win.”

Top that

RALPH Topping, the retired chief executive of William Hill, worked as a teenager in a branch in Glasgow's Govan. He once told us that a punter, upset at a mix-up over which horse he had backed, threatened to end Ralph's relatively short life, before storming out. Ralph was telling everyone that those who make the loudest threats never carry them out, when the chap returned with a Japanese ceremonial sword with which he slashed at Ralph through the gap below the protective screen.

As 6ft-plus Ralph leapt back from the lethal swipes, his 5ft-nothing Govan cashier went round the front and she bellowed: "Right, get oot, ya bampot" – which the chap did.

A bit Irish

AUSTRALIA'S hapless former Prime Minister Tony Abbott once described the opposition as being "a bit like the Irishman who lost 10 pounds betting on the Grand National and then lost 20 pounds on the action replay". The Irish Embassy asked him to apologise.

Not so smelly

AN Irvine reader was in his local where a punter said he had put his cash on a horse called Lewy the Pooey on the next televised race. Looking up at the TV screen our reader noticed that the nag was in fact named Louis the Pious, but not wanting to get into a conversation about ninth century French royalty, he remained dumb.

Lost his dough

TAGGART actor Alex Norton once told the tale of the Glasgow punter who dreamed that the winner of the Derby had something to do with bread, so his heart missed a beat when he saw one of the horses was called Mother's Pride. Putting all his cash on it, he went in to the bookie's after the race, only to be told his horse came last. "It cannae have. Ah dreamed it had something to do with bread."

"Well," said the bookie's clerk. "It wiz won by some big ootsider.”

Scot free

IT was almost lyrical when Irish bookies Paddy Power were taking bets on the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum and explained on its website: "On one side, you've the Scottish nationalists – coming across like a downtrodden young wife who's been talking to strangers on the internet who've given her the confidence to rebel and stand on her own two feet.

"On the other, England/the Union playing the role of Sugar Daddy, warning her that she can have her freedom, but he'll turn off the tap and before too long she'll be destitute, gyrating around a pole for the titillation of Angela Merkel to make ends meet. Ya know – a lot like Ireland.”