The rather poor copy of the invitation above to the annual HCPT racenight at the greyhound stadium in Wimbledon is entirely down to yours truly's skill or rather lack of it in transferring copies from the original to computer rather than a reflection on the meetings last night of many HCPT pilgrims past present and to come at Wimbledon's dogtrack. Group 729 had a table for six on the HCPT floor. In addition to Mr and Mrs maytrees there was Bernie, her older brother and his wife all originally from Baghdad and an interesting German neighbour friend of theirs.
The evening was unusual in many ways. Wimbledon's greyhound stadium is now the last surviving one in London following the closure of Walthamstow's.
Greyhounds are known the world over although I do not recall the Iraqi name for them. However we all assumed that only the British would be mad enough to hold race meetings with dogs not least because each race is over almost before it begins. At least with horse racing the display of runners and riders followed by the races tends to provide a decent spectacle which lasts for a reasonable period of time but with greyhounds its all over in seconds.
Bernie's sister in law commented ruefully however that in earlier days there was some really good horse racing in Iraq whereas she believes that kind of fun hardly exists there now if at all. Racing dogs on the other hand we all agreed is probably one of those idiosyncratic British oddities.
I last went to the HCPT race night a few years back and have only attended such evenings with the HCPT. Although the number of HCPT supporters remains high my impression is that the number of keen dog race lovers who have always attended race meetings at the track in droves is on the wane.
I know that AFC Wimbledon FC would relish a move back to SW18/20 and that the local Merton council would support the football club's move to the racetrack ground. However the cost and shortage of housing in London at present probably means that the site will be sold to provide new housing, much like the old Wimbledon football club's ground was a few years back.
Reverting to the sadnesses of Iraq the fact that Bernie and her relatives have all settled successfully in England and have prospered is great for the UK HCPT and myself but I suppose sadly, our gain is Iraq's loss. One of Bernie's sisters still lives in Iraq as a catholic nun. Life there for non-muslims cannot be easy.
Still by the end of the evening a great time had been had by all; many old acquaintences were renewed, some new ones made, HCPT raised some much needed funds for disabled children's pilgrimages to Lourdes and we all left happily for home.