My Uncle Bill was one of those men best described as a colourful character. He lived alone, most of the time, though there was one woman who seemed to answer his call when needed.
Most of the time Uncle Bill could be found huddled close to his fuel stove, head stuck in the paper and ears paying attention to the talk back on the radio.
To visit him was an experience and you had to be prepared for and forgiving of his tendencies to fart, belch, swear and ridicule anyone he disagreed with which on any given day was pretty much everyone.
He was my mother’s only brother a man who had seen a lot of the world and had, therefore, an opinion on everything.
He loved a bet on the weekends, his Friday paper always folded over to the racing guide. On a piece of dirty paper, he’d scribble his bets for the next day, listening Saturday mornings to the racing selections on the radio.
“It’s a hard game,” he’d say as he gathered up all his bits of paper and stuffed them into his top pocket before making his way to the local betting shop. Then he’d stop and look once again at the newspaper, the racing guide by now a series of doodles as his mind had worked to discover the winners of each race. “Every winner is here you know,” he’d state as if making one of the great philosophical statements of all time.
Later in the afternoon, I’d stop by to see how he was going. He’d have a series of empty beer bottles scattered around him and more often than not a pile of crumpled betting slips littering the floor.
The radio would be blaring, and Uncle Bill would be talking back to it intend on having his opinion heard.
I always made a cup of tea when I arrived, I figured by then he’d had more than enough and needed to slow down.
He’d regale me about his lack of success, horses beaten by a nose, how he’d mixed up his numbers in one race and missed out of a ‘fortune’.
“It’s a hard game,” he’d repeat over and over never once suggesting he’d give up on the bets, but determined the next week to do it all over again in the belief good luck was just around the corner.