In this week’s 6 of the Best, we hear from Square in the Air’s Romilly Evans who tells us about which book makes you question everything you ever knew, to the story behind why Romilly backed Miinnehoma to win the 1994 Grand National.
My bookshelves are worryingly light when it comes to decent novels, but Animal Farm is very manageable for those saddled with shorter attention spans. However, it’s a safe bet others have touched on George Orwell’s unflagging brilliance before. So, let’s go for Mortal Questions by Thomas Nagel. I mostly offer this in a naked attempt to make you think I have hidden depths. But the book also does some great digging around the notion of moral luck. It might just pull your preconceptions around to such a degree that you’ll be questioning everything from the value of retributive justice to texting when driving, even socially responsible gaming tools. Not bad for a work published in 1979!
North Berwick, Scotland. Just a 40-minute drive from Edinburgh, too. My folks always loved a staycation. So, my brother and I would play 54 holes of golf around the Gullane links most days, before twilight tennis every evening prompted a succession of disputed line calls that taught me everything I know about love, friendship, maddening arguments and unprovoked violence. Stunning sea views, jagged coastlines, Cullen skink, and the constant threat of being kicked to death in a nearby alleyway if you mocked a local for failing to use the cancel-button as a cheat on the pub fruit machine. Salad days.
While Alan Partridge made a good case for The Best of the Beatles, I beg to differ. Good albums go somewhere meaningful. Greatest-hits compilations, much like a hastily assembled playlist, ultimately leave you stuck on the ring road outside Aylesbury in the middle of winter. Still, if you ever find yourself emotionally marooned there, don the galoshes and wade through High Violet by The National. Booming baritones, coupled to rousing orchestral anthems, first summon the gathering gloom, then shatter it. Particularly if you’re in navel-gazing mood.
Best Sporting Experience
Phil Mickelson winning his first Masters in 2004. I wasn’t there, but you didn’t need to be. After so many near misses at the majors (46 to be exact) and feeding off scraps in the Tiger era, Lefty was destined to wind up a fag paper shy of greatness. Eternally gifted, eternally flawed, eternally carrying my money. We all knew how this disaster-movie ended. Then an unrecognisable Mickelson sprang from Augusta’s azaleas with five birdies to finally shake the major monkey on his back-nine. I must’ve received more texts of congratulations that Sunday night than on any of my birthdays. Even Peter Alliss boldly declaring “it’s not over” after Phil drained his winning birdie putt on the 18th couldn’t spoil the moment. The Voice of Golf would never have made it as a data scout.
Seve – The Movie. Too easy. I can’t see anyone disagreeing with that. But any chance to improve DVD sales five years down the line from a fluctuating career in film production. This biopic is a real rags-to-riches tale of fate outstripping adversity. Succeeding against the odds is one thing, doing it in the most cavalier and stylish way is quite another. Nobody did it better than Seve, even if the worldwide box office of this docu-drama begs to differ! The independent film industry is full of people who work hard, set lofty goals and dare to dream. Only to subsequently fall flat on their faces. It’s a valuable life lesson – and one which led me into sports, gaming and betting PR!
Miinnehoma winning the 1994 Grand National. Having ruptured my spleen on holiday in France, I was bedridden for six weeks in an Auvergne hospital, sharing a ward with a family of five other Brits, four of whom had injured themselves in separate accidents! With little more than a copy of L’Équipe and sole possession of the remote control (happily, the family were all hampered by limb-related injuries) to light my way, I happened upon the mount of Richard Dunwoody who gave Miinnehoma an ice-cool ride to finally lift the curse of master trainer Martin Pipe in the world’s greatest horse race. At 16-1 to boot.