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Sport | Diary of a Somebody

Balthazar Fabricius – Day 4

The bookmaker ruminates on psychology, natty dressing and never wanting England teams to triumph…

Balthazar Fabricius – Day 4

February 08 2013
Balthazar Fabricius

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

After training for the third time this week I am exhausted, although buoyed by Clay confidently saying “Dane Bowers” to me at the end of the class. It takes me a second, but rather like John Cusack in High Fidelity I surmise this is in fact code for me reaching “Another Level”. This is good: I must be improving.

Speaking of High Fidelity, I am enjoying dipping in and out of Nobel Memorial Prize-winner Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, which I started reading while in Mexico. The book explores research over many decades that focuses on the distinction and interaction in our brain between what Kahneman calls System 1, which is fast, instinctive and emotional, and System 2, which is slower, more deliberative and more logical. It reminds me of another book, by Carl Honoré, called In Praise of Slow – an interesting idea in this age of doing everything so quickly and running around like stressed-out headless chickens. While I am enjoying Kahneman’s book it is a bit intense, so I’ve been lightening the load by careering through Steve McManaman and Sarah Edworthy’s brilliant El Macca, which recounts the former Liverpool and Real Madrid legend’s four years in the Spanish capital. I lived in Spain, in Granada, while at university, which was when Macca first went to Real Madrid, so reading about his time there has been a wonderful trip down memory lane.

I walk gingerly to work, mercifully grateful for my George Cleverley shoes. I invested in some “proper” shoes last year and I don’t know why I waited so long. The difference in comfort is beyond words and they help so much, given that I pound the streets all day, every day. To encourage me to regularly polish my shoes, my father used to tell me that they should be so shiny you can see the future them.

I may defer to Mr Cleverley on the shoe front, but at Fitzdares we make our own ties, which Robert Talbott, together with our beloved designer Stefano Arata, helped to produce. We have always liked the idea of making our own luxury goods, so as well as the ties we have come up with some of the most beautiful gaming products in the world. Backgammon is a particular weakness of mine; I love it. We used natural Dauphin calf leather, specially tanned to withstand years of enjoyment. We have also produced cribbage and perudo sets.

There are five race meetings today, including one in Dubai, so the afternoon skips by. Before I know it, it’s time to head to Scott’s, which I love because it means I get to see Sean McDermott. Sean is a colossus of the restaurant world, having worked the door at The Ivy, The Wolseley and, for the last six years, at Scott’s. I’d hazard a guess that his address book is as good as anyone I know.

My wife and I are having dinner with Andrew and Charlotte Thatcher. Andrew is managing director of Banque Havilland, operating out of offices in Savile Row. Over dinner, Charlotte reminds me that we first met at The Curragh Racecourse in Ireland on Irish Derby weekend in the summer of 2006, on a trip organised by NetJets. Charlotte has never forgotten that in the box that day I was the only one cheering Portugal to beat England in the World Cup quarter-final match, which was being shown on TV after the racing ended. That has been the story of my life for the last seven years! I have rarely wanted England to win anything, which makes me a little depressed – but that’s the business I’m in. Our members can be very patriotic, so inevitably we take lots of wagers on England, be it football, cricket or rugby. We had laid England to lose over £200,000 for that tournament. Mercifully, the Portuguese did us a favour by winning the penalty shoot-out. But I’m convinced that was the start of my receding hairline.