Better not to bet, except on Beaujolais

I have lived such an innocent, pure, virtuous life. I've never smoked, though both my parents did, and I've never taken drugs. Well, except twice, sort of. Once it turned out I hadn't and the other time I didn't know I had. The first was when Ringo gave me a reefer one evening after a session at Abbey Road. I took it home, hid it from the children, then the next evening my wife and I decided to light up.

We closed the curtains, took the phone off the hook, had a few drags and nothing happened, so we opened the curtains, put the phone on and went back to work.

Next time I saw Ringo I said, "I didn't think much of your reefer." He said it was cabbage leaves.

The other time, also Beatles-related, I went to Savile Row to have lunch with Derek Taylor, their PR. He said it was his birthday and a Sloaney girl brought out a steaming hot gingerbread cake from the oven. I had a slice, then another. I started gibbering, then slumped. It was a hash cake - oh, what a tease! So that's it, two drug-related incidents in the past 50 years.

Strip poker

Nor do I bet. I did fill in the football Pools for my dad, when he was an invalid lying in bed, which he was for most of my childhood. I would sometimes be sent out to put a quid on the Grand National.

I've not done it since. Why would I want to bet when I have won the lottery in life, thanks to my dear wife and my dear children? I say that just to see them puke.

Yet I am currently being shouted at by dozens of manic, screaming betting firms. They seem to have taken over football sponsorship, though I don't know what half the letters and initials on the shirts mean, or even how to pronounce them.

188Bet, whatever that is, sponsors two Prem clubs - Bolton and Wigan. Swansea have 32Red on their shirts, Wolves have Sportingbet, Sunderland Tombola, and Blackpool have Wonga, which must have something to do with money. Fulham is sponsored by FxPro, a really stupid set of letters, to do with online trading, so that is betting of a sort. The most confusing of all is West Ham's sponsor, Sbobet. How do you pronounce that?

Then there are all the betting adverts around the perimeters at games. At the recent El Clásico in Spain, between Barça and Real Madrid, I was totally distracted by ads for Bet365.That must have cost them a fortune.

The TV commercials are the worst, with that annoying man shouting, "Bet now!" and "Game on!" The big thing is watching and betting at the same time - so they give you odds on who will score the next goal, while it is happening. William Hill, apparently, allows you to put bets on games in 500 different leagues around the world.

Odds on

You can get odds on anything - the next corner, the next throw in, which minute Fergie will look at his watch, when Dalglish will throw up his arms, when Bellamy will curl his lip, when Ray Wilkins will say, "My word" or Chris Waddle exclaim: "Pelanty!"

Most of these new betting firms don't exist, not with flesh-and-blood betting offices that you can go into, but are online only - making millions from idiot punters all round the country, desperate for a bet, all day, all round the clock, on anything that moves or might move.

As most of the online betting seems to revolve around football, presumably most of the punters are football fans. In this time of austerity, how can they afford all these dopey bets?

It's like that other great economic mystery of our times - coffee bars. Hundreds of new ones open every week and the demand seems to be just as frenetic as online betting - yet no one is supposed to have any money. It always amazes me when walking round Workington in Cumbria, where so many are unemployed, to see them queuing to spend £2.40 on a cup of coffee at the local Costa. Folk, eh, queer or what?

I forgot to mention one vice I do have - Beaujolais. But I like to think I am awfully sensible. This year, I am determined not to go above a litre a day.

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