Sands Of Time Running Out – But Shingles Going Strong

August 12th, 2022 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

I have reached the stage where I dare not forecast what will happen next, though obviously I’d be seriously tempted by a Brighton sprint handicap.

Goodwood was as enjoyable as ever, or maybe not quite, given that I contracted shingles quite early on. It’s a strange business; my back aches at the best of times and suddenly I had the win double up because it was extremely itchy as well. I always stay at the same Southampton guest house and the proprietors were about to go on holiday for a couple of weeks so I was there on my own.

This can be slightly worrying in the dead of night and hardly conducive to working out the Golden Mile, for example, but you have to face up to things and twist sideways to see as much of your back as possible in the mirror. A set of quite impressive blotches with no set pattern but enough to send me back to Nailsea a couple of hours before the Stewards’ Cup.

There may be only one thing of any use to you in this column. You can’t catch shingles from someone else if you’ve had chicken pox as a nipper, or nippess, I suppose, in these days of political correctness, which is something of a minefield for an old geezer like me.

No, if you suffered as a youngster, the virus lies dormant in your system and, in a very small number of cases, it bursts forth again (here I am!), just when you were entering the final furlong. I  looked it all up, of course, and apparently stress can bring it on. Stress! We never used to talk about stress when I was a lad, not when my dad would walk four miles to clock on at Pirelli in Eastleigh at six in the morning when his lift didn’t turn up. If stress was a factor, I’d have had shingles just before Duggan won at Catterick in 1990, a result to leave me quite relaxed for at least three weeks.

Stress, I ask you. Just think, if everyone sat down and wondered how, in a nation where Love Island, Big Brother, Britain’s Got Talent and countless soaps are essential viewing, the entire population could be asked to vote on something as important as Brexit, there’d be a nationwide outbreak of shingles.

No, no, I can’t have the stress thing. Anyway, I did all right at Goodwood. I tipped and backed Hollie Doyle and Prairie Falcon (good meeting for falcons this year, right from the start) at 14/1 and before that, on the first day (pre-shingles), there was a minor miracle when, having narrowed the sprint handicap down to the Newmarket form-line involving Dusky Lord, Night On Earth and Celsius, I heeded my great friend Howard Dawson, who insisted that Lord Riddiford should go in if we were to trap the Exacta and Trifecta. Interesting.

Lord Riddiford is trained by one of my favourite handlers, John Quinn, but had done little this season. Yet here he was, coming late to deny Dusky Lord and Night On Earth to repeat last year’s win and have me sitting up in bed, slightly itchy, counting many notes. It’s why we play.

Howard also sent me the Daily Torygraph, not a paper I see from one year’s end to the next, containing the obituary of Ronald Allison, who was an old boy of my school, Taunton’s in Southampton, and became the Queen’s press secretary. I had great respect for him and took over as toastmaster at the annual old boys’ dinner when he stepped down a decade or so ago. He was a lovely man with a fine, dry wit and made it to 90 despite a couple of heart attacks way back. He was a big Southampton FC supporter, as well, but stopped going to St Mary’s when he could no longer manage the steps.

We used to ramble on about old games, including an epic FA Cup-tie at The Dell in 1964 when the Saints led holders Manchester United 2-0 at half-time (Chivers, another Old Tauntonian, and Paine the scorers) before United, with George Best having only his second game, hit back to win 3-2. It was a riveting encounter, though I expect I’ve over-egged it with the passing of the years because time makes fools of us all in the end. Now and again I imagine the over-heated room, the semi-circle of mildly disgruntled oldies, daytime television booming out (please, please, no, not that) and the ranter in the corner edging ever closer.

Well, they can wait a bit longer. Funny thing, Southampton asked me to write about the 1964 game for the matchday programme when we play United again on August 27. So I did and sent it off, typical Carnaby stuff with United’s Maurice Setters, whom you don’t remember, ‘a rugged, defensive left-half who’d unquestionably have been the foreman on any building-site he graced’ playing a prominent role.

I was thanked but apparently some ‘minor tinkering’ will be necessary. Tinkering? ‘What fresh hell is this?’ (Dorothy Parker) or even ‘Stone me’, as Tony Hancock would have said, because you really don’t ‘tinker’. It’s enough to bring on stress and give a man shingles if he didn’t already have them. Believe me, I have hardly any rules and struggle to abide by the few I’ve set myself but one stands out. You don’t touch my pieces. They can be good, bad, indifferent or maybe a bit strange but they’re mine. And no-one tinkers with them.