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  1. A few years ago I was lucky enough to meet BM Nadia in the Rockhouse and we have become friends. Over the years he has been kind enough to invite me over for a few weekends of fun. This year it was to attend a race meeting to Kempton in honour of one of his friends who sadly passed away. I arrived at Gatwick about 30 minutes later than the scheduled arrival time, which wasn’t too bad considering my flight had been delayed from take off for over an hour. Nadia was there to meet me and we started the journey to his house. Usually a 45 minute trip but in my wisdom I had booked the flight which coincided with the tea time motorway crush. We did the journey in just over an hour and were very lucky because had we been twenty minutes later we would have been caught up in a nightmare tailback caused by some guy acting the nutter on one of the bridges which the Police had closed to get him sorted. On arrival at the house it was a big hug and a cup of tea from Nadias mum. She is in her nineties and an amazing woman who still walks over a mile into town most mornings. She is not impressed with the local council at the moment because they’ve stopped cutting back the vegetation on the path she uses and she has to beat the nettles down with her walking stick as she goes “I don’t want the youngsters getting stung” she explained. She has lived in London for decades and still has a broad Southern Irish accent. A little while later Linda and Bill arrived with Nadias daughters Emily and Jacinta. More hugs and kisses then it was off to the pub for a well deserved tiddly. The Bar was pretty packed due to the England match but we managed to get a table and settled down for the evening. Nadias mate Roy arrived – he is mid seventies and also in great nick for his age – still manages to put a few pints away. I don’t know what’s in the water in London but I want some of it. Roy left around elevenish and Nadia and I retired to his home from home “The Indian” – he even has a dish named after him – Chicken Nadia. We bumped into a girl he knows, she was with a guy who is just her friend but it was quite obvious that he wants to be more than a friend. You could almost see his chin visibly drop towards the floor when she asked us to join them. We had a few Cobras, Nadia had a meal, I had mint dip with Poppadoms and it was a good end to the evening. Nadias friend told us she was barred for two years from the pub we had just left because, in her words “I was walking a bit funny when I left the toilets” As the conversation progressed I told them that I couldn’t understand why, if she was barred, her friends still used the pub. Where I’m from it’s normally one out all out. As we left the Indian I looked around to see her grabbing one of the waiters and dancing with him up and down between the tables of bemused diners. Mmmm I thought perhaps there’s more to the being barred story than she told us. Next morning it was up early but not so bright and breezy . Nadia went to collect Kenny and Roy then Nadias wife gave us a lift to a café for some sustenance. After a quick breakfast it was a short walk to the pub to collect our tickets/badges for the races and wait for the bus. The annual event is called Red Shoes not sure of the reason but we all had to pick an envelope. Most had a small cash sum but there were two which everyone tried to avoid. One had a pair of boots painted red, the other a wig and if you picked them you had to wear the item all day. Breakfast Breakfast second course The red shoes Our transport to Kempton races The saying for the day was I am the man said in an Irish accent "Oiym Da Man" taken from My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding where the gypsies are at a Christening and take it in turns to step in front of the camera holding up their fists and saying "Oiym Da Man" finally the 60 year old pappy of them all says "Oiym da feckin Man and Oiym da only man in da house who can toy a toy" (tie a tie). The first of the "Oiym Da man" poses The wig