A Gambler’s Tale: Trains, Planes & Automobiles

A Gambler’s Tale: Trains, Planes & Automobiles  Do you remember the film: Trains, Planes & Automobiles?

It must have been ten years since I last watched it, sadly never at the cinema on a big screen. Fast forward to now and my recently brother invited me to a viewing at the Bull & Swan public house in Stamford. They had a room out the back looking very festive with artificial Christmas trees, fairy lights and even fake fur on the wooden seats and a tartan blankets to put over your knees. Sitting there with a bottle of Rutland cider, triple cooked chips and a side of macaroni cheese I awaited the start of this classic film at 7pm.

Released in 1987, this American comedy is still one of my favourites. Staring John Candy and Steven Martin, it follows the journey of forlorn travellers Del Griffith and Neal Page trying to get back home for Thanksgiving.

The story is very much about identity, acrimony, tolerance and ultimately love. Together, even though at first they didn’t realise it, they needed each other to get through the rough times which later made them smile, laugh and appreciate each other.

The most poignant moment of the film for me is when after an argument Del Griffith’s says: ‘I like me!’

He reminded me of my friend Jerry Banks.

Being a horse racing bloggers, I had known the Lowestoft professional gambler via emails but it wasn’t until a good few years later we met for a day’s racing at Great Yarmouth. Thankfully, our friendship is based on a mutual interest and a respect for each other. There are many things that he knows about horse racing and gambling which I don’t and visa-versa. We’ve had many good days out which usually follow a similar pattern: A pint or two in the Troll Cart, head to the track for a few more drinks and a bet, followed by a meal in the Tandoori Savoy Indian.

It’s a good time had by all.

In fact, it has become a day for family and friends.

Gambling has always suffered from a stigma which depicts people as if on the slippery slope of life, without sense, morals or any standing. However, this is a stereotype which, if anything, holds only a grain of truth, a blemish on the people who enjoy their subject matter and like a bet. It is all too easy to miss the truth behind so many friendships that all start somewhere and often lead to a journey that captures the imagination and adds wholeheartedly to your life.

The sum is often greater than its parts.

Jerry has travelled by train, plane and automobile when heading to Santa Anita, California to watch the Derby. He went with friends. I wonder if any of them are similar to Del Griffith or Neal Page.

My cousin, Danny, a gambling man, also reminds me of John Candy, the kind of person who can talk to anyone, have a smile and laugh and enjoy all occasions.

God Bless the Del Griffith’s of this world.