Jack Of All Trades

Being a ‘Jack Of All Trades’ isn’t really something that one aspires to. Yes, it does imply some level of proficiency across a number of different tasks. In supermarkets they call it ‘multi-skilled’. But it also implies that the owner of this moniker lacks focus, dedication and any real, genuine talent in any single discipline. Jack of all trades, master of none. And he or she probably works in a supermarket. Where his ‘multi-skilled’ attributes will be appreciated, but rarely rewarded.

Britain is a bit of a Jack Of All Trades sometimes. Particularly with sport. Most of the world’s most popular sports were ‘invented’ here. Football, rugby, cricket, boxing, baseball, badminton, tennis, hockey, golf. basketball, table tennis and darts amongst them. More modern sports such as bungee jumping and (surprisingly) bobsleigh also came from Britain.

I used the apostrophes with the word ‘invented’ because, of course, many other nations and cultures make claims of their own with regards some of these sports. Some of them have substance, others are really quite spurios. But most of them are generally attributed to Britain. If those with losing claims need solace, it comes with the fact that Britain are, more often than not, the master of none.

That is a bit unfair really I guess. We have had our world beaters. We are the third highest ranking country in the Summer Olympics as far as gold medals go. Although that is largely due to extremely large hauls gained in the early games. More recently, or at least within my lifetime, there have been others. Lennox Lewis beat everyone there was to beat. Torville and Dean skated their way to perfection.

Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Lewis Hamilton and Jensen Button have all won F1 World Championships. As have Williams, McClaren and Lotus, the manufacturers. Lola and Reynard once cleared up the trophies in the US variant of motor racing. In fact no other country seems able to consistently match the British teams in motor racing. What a shame we can build such magnificent machines for the track, but seem so incapable of building more humble cars for sale to road users…

But we do love out sport, and the big sporting occasions. The Boat Race and World Snooker Final at the Crucible in April. The FA Cup Final in May. Wimbledon in June. The British Golf Open and Silverstone GP in July. And tomorrow is the last ‘biggie’ on the calendar. The Grand National at Aintree in Liverpool.  A Brit might win that. We make up most of the runners.

The Grand National is a tradition. And putting a few quid on a horse or two in the race is just as much of a tradition. Tomorrow, betting shops will have their busiest day as people up and down the country go to pick their nag. People who otherwise never gamble, save perhaps for the odd game of bingo, will have a flutter on the national. If there’s only one race someone bets on in the year, it’s this one. I’ve put my stake down. A very heady £1.50 on three gee gees, 50p each. To win. My slip is below. Fingers crossed…


8 thoughts on “Jack Of All Trades

  1. Dan in NC says:

    Ah Gary, One 40/1 and two 100/1’s !!?? Oh boy, you might end up buying a round if any of themwin! The missus likes “Dont pushit”, ” Because I Couldn’t See”, and “Hello Bud” – all three are Irish nags – wouldn’t ya know it!
    Bet of Luck on the flutter!
    BTW – we DID build a couple of great cars – the Morgan & the Mini. My ’72 Cooper was a blast to drive!
    Dan in NC


    • I confess…I put my £1.50 on without looking at the odds. I just picked names I liked the sound of! Not very scientific, I know. But one can always hope for a little luck….

      I did perhaps phrase my car comment awkwardly. We made plenty of fabulous cars. What we couldn’t do was build them and make money at the same time. Take the Mini, seeing as you mentioned it, as an example. Did you have a BMC Mini, a Morris Mini, an Austin Mini, a Rover mini, one of the Wolseley or Riley variants or a BMW Mini?

      The last on the list is perhaps the saddest statement on the British motor industry – we can mass produce cars profitably in England, providing the company is owned by a foreign company. I read once that Nissan’s plant in Sunderland is (or was at the time) the most efficient plant in the world.

      Morgans were great. But their new models are…well…not Morgans. If you know what I mean.

      Good luck with your picks. Hope they turn out to be stallions and not burros! Irish horses are often a good bet though…


    • Well…two of my picks did finish. One of my horses fell at the second from last. Shame. If he’d finished, I’d have picked the horses that finished last, second from last and third from last. What were the odds on that?

      Two horses dead. It’s a brutal run…


  2. Dan in NC says:

    I TOTALLY agree with your comments about today’s cars. One of the last cars I had in the UK was a 2K Vauxhall ( ‘nuf said, eh?) As to the Mini? I believe it was a 1300cc Austin made product. I’m not, nor ever have been a slight lad, but that damn car was a Tardus!
    As to the missus’s (a Dubliner no less) choice in horses – well it takes a nag to know a nag (LOL!) ! Her sister placed the bet for her today (similar to your amount), and we’re trying to catch it on TV tomorrow! A wager always makes the race a bit tastier! All the Best!
    Dan in NC


    • A Tardis, not Tardus, mister! You’ll have Dr Who fanboys screaming for blood with your typo / blasphemy! And just in case you had forgotten how the Tardis can be so roomy on the inside, Tom Baker (my favourite of the Doctors) explains all

      Did you ever catch the Top Gear episode that showed the ‘brilliance’ of the British car industry of the 70’s?


  3. Dan in NC says:

    Disculpe mi spelling, dude (‘ow’s dat fer Spanglish?) As to the bet? Win only.. Ah well, next year!
    Dan in NC


    • Indeed, next year. Although I do have a £1 bet on the World Snooker championship with a new colleague, who himself once had a world ranking. I’ve picked the favourite, John Higgins. Despite all the drama surrounding the chap over the last year or so…


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