2nd March 2019

I suppose I’m an ‘ideas man’. I have ideas. I got it from my father. He was an ‘ideas man’. My uncle Jim used to say that my dad should write a book and call it ‘That’s an Idea’, because he had thousands of ideas and the vast majority never saw the light of day.

If Deirdre and I ever really write the full story of how we started out and got to where we are now, it is sure to be peppered with my many ideas that never came to fruition. She often tells the story of the ‘Icyhose’ machine and how I bought two rather than test one first. Less frequently, we recall the times when I tried to feed the horses lard or to give them a nightcap of a can of Guinness, only to find the mangers full of dead mice in the morning. Thankfully, for every hundred ideas that were nonsense, there was a gem that set us apart.

I was reminded of this when raking through a pile of papers tonight and I came across a poem written by my late sister, Lyn. It dates from the time, about eight years ago, when we had just taken on three greyhound pups as part of a challenge to prove that I could train them. I had no end of good ideas for changing the world of greyhound training and, I promise you, they weren’t all wrong.

Lyn wrote:

Mark, oh Mark, you do make us smile,

We pups, we come from the Emerald Isle.

We don’t like porridge, oh no, we do not,

We don’t like it cold and we don’t like it hot.

Porridge is Scottish and really won’t do.

Give us, please give us, a good Irish stew.

Colcannon and Skirlie and Boxty are fine.

Just stop feeding us horrible slime!

Mourne Mutton and Clapshot are really quite good,

But porridge is nasty and horrible food.

We feel we’re in prison, this cage on a hill,

Add insult to injury, feed us on swill!

‘Porridge’, we’ve seen it, that programme on telly,

But the food it is awful and lies in the belly.

So bring on the eggs, the beef and the lamb,

Or even some fish, with warm milk and ham.

Just please not the porridge, we’ve had quite enough,

Cos it’s yucky, and foul and tasteless old stuff!


I took the hint. I changed their feed and I’d like to think that, by the end of my short flirtation with greyhound training, I wasn’t getting it too far wrong.


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