I'm backing Venables to win the Booker Prize

Share

This week Margaret Atwood emerged as 2-1 favourite, with Kazuo Ishiguro narrowly trailing at 5-2. I refer not to the next England football manager but to the likely winner of the Booker Prize. Although if many more candidates decline to be considered as England manager, then Atwood and Ishiguro might find themselves in the running. Who better to write that desperately awaited glorious new chapter in the history of English football?

This week Margaret Atwood emerged as 2-1 favourite, with Kazuo Ishiguro narrowly trailing at 5-2. I refer not to the next England football manager but to the likely winner of the Booker Prize. Although if many more candidates decline to be considered as England manager, then Atwood and Ishiguro might find themselves in the running. Who better to write that desperately awaited glorious new chapter in the history of English football?

Moreover Ladbrokes have taken me up on my suggestion, already aired in these pages, that Alan Titchmarsh and Charlie Dimmock could be the dream ticket to manage the national team. If nothing else, the pitch would look gorgeous. But Ladbrokes think it an unlikely eventuality, offering me odds of 10,000-1. Although I find myself asking, why not 1,000,000-1?

As the son of a bookmaker - albeit a notably unsuccessful one, who single-handedly demolished the old canard about nobody ever seeing a poor bookie - I rather enjoy the way that life unfolds in Britain accompanied by a series of odds. It is a phenomenon unique to these shores. The Australians enjoy a flutter, but not like we do. There is no culture of odds-making in America. The French do not offer spread bets on the number of truffles dug up in the Périgord. Yet here the bookmakers spring into action at the least provocation, perhaps because they know there are plenty of punters daft enough to hand over their hard-earned readies. In other words, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Evens the chicken, 11-4 the egg.

There is no over-estimating the lunacy of the British public when it comes to gambling. For instance, on 1 January this year, bookmakers were able to pocket substantial bets placed on the following things happening during 1999: that the world would end (a no-lose bet for the bookies, considering how tricky it would have been to collect the winnings); that the Archbishop of Canterbury would confirm the Second Coming; that Michael and LaToya Jackson would turn out to be one and the same; that a man would give birth; and, my personal favourite, that weather forecaster Michael Fish would lose his job to cricketer Shane Warne.

At the same time, however, Ladbrokes shelled out £194,000 to a chap who bet £30 in December 1989 that by the end of the next decade, Cliff Richard would be knighted, both EastEnders and Home and Away would still be going strong on television, and rock group U2 would still be together. Heaven knows why he felt so strongly about that particular turn of events.

It is easier to admire the similarly lucrative prescience of one David Threlfall, who entered a William Hill betting shop in the early 1960s and asked for the odds against an astronaut walking on the moon by 1 January 1970. The William Hill man, who has sensibly remained anonymous, offered him 1,000-1. Mr Threlfall bet a tenner.

The list of daft bets placed, and daft prices offered, is a long one, getting longer by the day. Meanwhile, there are odds on everything, from sport to politics to literature to fashion to industry to Elvis landing a UFO on top of the Millennium Dome. It is all, you might say, very odd. So what does it tell us about the British psyche?

Actually, I think it reflects a fundamental schizophrenia. We are eternal optimists, handing over our precious dosh in the hope of it multiplying, yet eternal pessimists, knowing that there is no other blinking way to get rich quick. The same applies in spades to the National Lottery.

But now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to back Terry Venables. I reckon he has a decent outside chance of winning the Booker Prize.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: AV Installation Engineer

£27000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to business growth, this is...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Care Support Workers

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, this care company base...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£21000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Refugees try to cross the border from Greece into Macedonia, near Gevgelija, on Wednesday. The town sits on the ‘Balkan corridor’ used by refugees, mostly from Syria, to travel from Turkey to Hungary, the gateway to the EU  

The UK response to the plight of Syrian refugees is a national embarrassment

Kevin Watkins
The provincial capital of Idlib, Syria, which fell to al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra last week  

'I was sure I’d be raped or killed. I was terrified': My life as a gay Syrian refugee who had to flee Isis

Subhi Nahas
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent