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Grand National

by Johnny Finger


The Grand National is not my favourite sporting event of the year, despite my deep Liverpool roots and my natural lust for gambling. I have had more truly heinous experiences linked to Aintree Racecourse than any other venue. And I can tell you, for sure, that National week in Liverpool is a white-knuckle orgy of booze and sex and violence that, 99 times out of 100, swamps anybody who goes near it in a hurricane of fear, pain and stupefying disasters that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

The behaviour of the crowd at Aintree is like 50,000 vicious Honey Badgers going berserk all at once in a space about the size of a football pitch. Going to the National in person is worse than volunteering to join the Normandy landings, and just about as much fun. Take my word for it, folks, I have done it for nearly 20 years in a row, and I still have recurring nightmares about it that cause me to wake up sweating and screaming like some kind of pig being eaten alive by carnivorous finger monkeys.

My memories of the National are extremely clear and far too obscene to describe here in any detail. Some involve prison, insane asylums, rape trials, wife-beatings, police-brutality and private graveyards filled with victims of tragic medical experiments worse than anything the Marquis de Sade was ever accused of.

I went to one National party where two teenage girls were deliberately set on fire and tortured by drunken rich people who then hurled their bodies off  the Runcorn Bridge and laughed about it later. The girls' families were told by local authorities that their daughters had "run away with a gang of horse-gamblers from Turkey who loaded them up with gin and told them they were going to London to get famous."

Things like that happen every year when the National comes to town. People "go out to the course," as they like to say in Liverpool , and simply disappear into thin air. Some return a few years later with horrible disfigurements and no memory at all of what happened. Others end up in "hospitals down south" and are never mentioned again by people who knew them.

Omerta is the code of the debauched, especially after weird crimes are committed by rich people. The usual explanation is a brief mention on the obituary page of another head-on collision with some unidentified lorry far out a country road and a "private cremation ceremony attended only by close family members who wish to remain anonymous." Horse people have very short attention spans for anything involving humans.

Of course there are good times to be had at Aintree. But even they usually descend into bad craziness. Ladies day on the Friday of the meeting is choc full of beautiful people strutting their stuff like peacocks in some bizarre mating ritual. What passes for the cities A-list are always in attendance. One year Hugh and myself were whooping it up in an all expenses five star private box. I made a passing comment on how stunning a famous Liverpool players wife looked. She just looked at me like I was something she'd scraped off her shoe! There was no offer of even an insincere 'Thanks'. Merely a sneer.

I was later informed that she quite audibly mocked me. Me! Steve McQueen! Needless to say when I'm told this I'm livid. I tried to explain this to her husband later in Garlands when I'm twisted, he just looked straight through me, I applauded his judgement. The girl who told me I was insulted lets slip she knows where said footballers wife and her beau live. In a drunken stupor I'm begging her to give me the address so I can drive by the house and throw pig entrails and rotten vegetables at their home.

The girl insists I'll get caught and give her up as the address provider in the process. I assure her I won't give her name up but offer that getting caught is a must, after all, how delicious would it be to have this very famous Liverpool player chasing me down the street in his undies, all piss and vinegar. And how infinitely more delicious will the moment be when the superstar catches me (which assuredly, he would would, as he's extremely physically fit, and I can barely climb the stairs without getting short of breath)? I fantasise about him tackling me (two footed, naturally) on the grass near his home (no homoerotic subtext mind, the boys no Tim Cahill), turning me over to see my face, and discovering that the rotten meat joker is the ted slobering over him in Garlands about his stunning chick.

OK. I see that I am feeling a bit nasty, myself, so maybe I should go back to bed and have a few more sick dreams about the Grand National and Clare Balding creeping in through my bedroom window with a dead animal, possibly Willie Carson, in her mouth. 



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