An insight into the types of people who bet on sport, in a busy bookshop in Derbyshire.
Ed Symes, in his book, ‘The Bookshop Book’, says they don’t have a home town hero, for no football supporter would ever, or indeed could, bet on a match involving a club located in a town they or their parents had lived in.
They don’t have favourite managers, whose methods they trust in and judge by the results they see.
Rather they have favourites of a variety of players, whose performances they see over and over again, until it comes to an all-time favourite.
This is an unusual attitude. I have had the same customer visit my bookshop in Clifton, Bristol every week for the last few years. He comes with his wife and is invariably in shirt and tie, even though the weather is never cold enough to warrant the shirt.
He bets on nearly every major sporting event in the country, and usually the same big team. He always comes in and we talk about the last match he watched and the next one he has placed bets on.
His betting habit has, in many ways, become a social affair. We have made new friends, and he has encouraged us to follow a sport he likes and is also interested in.
He is my friend, as are all of the other customers I have met and my new friends at my local bookshop. It’s no coincidence that this is what I call my ‘bookshop mentality’.
All they need to do is pick up a book to start the first sentence and imagine it is the story of their lives. This is the basic activity of everyone’s life, and books are a tangible reminder that our imagination can take us anywhere.
The only real difference between the recreational reader, and the reader who buys a book for pleasure, is the range and number of choices available to the reader.
Publishers have a lot to answer for. It was around the time I started writing for newspapers when the idea of ‘the book as a gift’ emerged.
At this time it was too easy to tell people they could buy a book and send it to a friend. But the truth is, it is much more than that.
The story you are reading right now, is the only story you have ever been given.
There is nothing else out there, just like the book in the bookshop. It is a unique experience, unlike any other.
It is a message we can all use from time to time in our lives: it doesn’t matter if you don’t have enough money to go to a football match, or can’t afford to see one.
You don’t need to attend every meeting of the so-called community, and you don’t need to be invited to every lunchtime business meeting.
What matters is your story and the choices you make to tell it.
Even if that is only to pick up a book, read it, savour it, write it down and then give it to a friend or a loved one.
This should be a basic rule for all, whether they are unemployed or employed.
The world doesn’t need you to be in jobs or organisations which don’t fit your values or aspirations.
The world needs you to be you. And it will love you for it.
Alan Sugar is the boss of Sugar Media, an online advertising business.