The Winners 2009 Under 26 Winner

“Good morning Bet off the Track you’re speaking to Alan can I take your bet please?”

I’ve been saying this in my sleep lately. Eight hours a day with half an hour for lunch and a nonsense rate of £5.10 an hour, if I didn’t smoke I’d have to sit there all day.

What was billed as an informal call centre job in the city centre, casual dress with seasonal perks is a concept wearing thin. The premises are laid out with the clinically depressing accuracy of a hospital.

Lines on the floor mark out ‘islands’ of desks hosting ‘clusters’ of different staff; customer service, betting agents, team leaders, salesmen, the big boss Martin and Ronnie, the idiot boy who’s in charge of call quality. He gets paid the same as me and he’s into his 40s. Total idiots, I sit quietly in my corner.

This job is beginning to ruin my life; the commentator from the racing channel has recently taken over my inner monologue, he makes me do things with heightened urgency:

‘Aaaand it’s the big plates on the outside crashing into the glassware in the middle of the pack followed shortly by the baked bean encrusted bowls who make way for the rubbish mugs that only cost £1 from the shop but are making their mark in appearance after appearance at the dinner table, the going is hard here in Glasgow, it’s going to be tight but he finishes the washing up by a nose just before The Simpsons, what a race.”

I know betting intricately now, an eighteen year old accomplished in what lucky 15s, Yankees and Goliaths are. I know the jockeys, the trainers and which horses will excel in soft or hard ground.

I’m fed up being blamed for punters’ horses not winning and being accused of taking their money. An eighteen year old sitting in the most impoverished city in Britain should not have to deal with more misery and blame.

I want to quit. If my overdraft wasn’t running at capacity, I might, just one bumper payday would sustain me in my lazy student luxury until I found something else. There must be easy money to make in a city like Glasgow; busking, eBay, international crime lord, whore myself out? Too much effort Alan, sit down, log on, plug in and let the evil forces chip away at your soul for ever.

Monday at 13.30 and Mr. Davies calls, an arrogant Welshman who curses the risk managers who shorten his bet to £500 from £1,000 in the 14.10 at Wolverhampton. He is 70% up on the company in eight months according to his profile and sneers when his £250 each way on a 25/1 shot is accepted, what does he know that others don’t?

Every so often one has an idea that jolts through them like an electric shock: concocting a storming one liner when you’re out drinking, enacting a practical joke with impeccable accuracy or when the perfect excuse registers as you escape from a jam.

At 13.31 on that day I had one such moment, my epiphany, the moment you realise you’re certain to have sex with the best looking girl at the party…and her best friend. It’s that moment when you admire your own genius and are similarly dumbstruck you hadn’t thought of it before.

By 13.32 I excused myself and went for a fag break. Instead of finding the cold car park to spark up, I sped to another destination.

By 13.40 the butterflies in my stomach had twisted and congealed to create a deep, anticipatory nausea.

Mecca, Vegas, Jerusalem, William Hill’s. She would henceforth be known as my shrine and oasis, my private enlightenment. I will take her for a test flight, if it comes off ,she shall grant me sustenance and I shall drink from her often as I like. A sickeningly fabulous plan.

I had £26.37 in my wallet. Hedging my deviousness slightly, I put £12.50 each way on Mr. Davies’ horse Trafalgar Mary, keeping a cool £1.37 for a disappointing bus trip home should my genius fail to come to fruition. I seized my slip and ran back to work, no time for a cigarette.

I waited anxiously for the 14.10 at Wolverhampton. The time came and I sat forward in my seat, unplugged my phone and immersed my eyes in the screen.

I’ve never seen anything so beautiful as that betting slip, it was a gateway to wealth and it was all my own cunning which made it such a sweet victory. My gut was swaying in the wind of my own excitement as I tried to keep a lid on the chaos inside. I couldn’t let on to anyone of my masterplan, I was a silent alarm.

The sneakiest and laziest money making scheme of all time came through; I won £440.63 for a horse at 25/1 that finished first. Chumps do the hard work; they study the form, cross reference the horses on different weather and ground and predict how a specific jockey will fare. But I am Trump, I am Gates, I no longer have to work hard; I’ve had the imperative idea and I let the money roll in.

For weeks now, I have been getting into work early and typing random six-digit reference IDs for our clients to check their win/lose percentages. Earlier I came across a Mr. Singh who is 86% up on the company and keeps on winning. So I have been winning, to the tune of £300 a day on top of my wages. How absurd that a boy of 18 has almost £9000 in his bank account.

Today, Mr. Singh bet on Basildon Babe in the 14.30 at Lingfield. At 33/1, I’m glad his bet has been corroborated by Mr. Snow - 69% up on the company. Mr. Singh has bet £250 each way, I’m having a piece of that.

Back to my Mecca, my happy place, a visit to the kind mother whose teat I shall suck on once more. It’s getting too easy.

A simple £50 each way and the horse wins. I am in some kind of heaven. I am proudly in the possession of £2,162.50. I have never seen so much money; this is surely my biggest scoop. I love this job.

I’m not letting the other schmucks in the office have a piece. This is my pie; they’re kitchen porters when I’m the chef. I’ve been doing dead end jobs for years now and deserve to be rewarded. I am like Branson or JK Rowling. I’m not letting the little people take the credit. It’s simple food chain economics.

I emerge through the office doors to a deaf silence as JP, Jimmy, Dave, Neil, Chris, the other Alan, Michael and Ronnie the idiot boy are noticeably and deliberately collecting their jackets.

With one hand on my wallet, I sat down, the bulk of it nearly popped through my jeans. What’s going on there? I whispered to Elaine.

“Using clients tip offs” she replied, “They’ve made thousands using Mr. Kohli’s bets at the Ladbrokes, sacked for breach of contract.”

I never went back.