Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Horses For Courses

For some strange reason, all my external training has taken place close to race courses. Over two years ago I was in Towcester, Northamptonshire. Now I find myself in Ascot, on a dreary wet October morning. I left home late, or so I thought and was putting my foot down on the M4, hoping I would make it on time. The traffic was moving steadily, but it did little to calm me down. I was hoping that after the main roundabout bottle neck, it would be plain sailing. Afterall, I was heading away from London, the congestion and the smog. Junction 8/9 of the M4 was busy, but as I peered down to the M4 westbound, the traffic was at a standstill. I looked at the clock, it was coming up to 8am, I was going to be late. By the time I got onto the motorway, it was raining down hard and visibility was poor, though the traffic was moving. For a spilt second my mind wondered back to work. How strange I felt at this time on a Monday morning, when I am usually making my way into the office.

Those of you unfamiliar with the sport of horse racing (and I include myself in that selective group) may be unaware that Ascot Race Course is currently under redevelopment, to open next year. Taking a wrong turning at a roundabout down the highstreet, I was actually able to see the impressive grandstand currently under heavy construction. Firstly, let me make one thing clear. I do not believe in gambling, particularly on horses. Even if it is described as the Sport of Kings. In July 2004 I attended my first race meeting at Newmarket and although I found the whole experience entertaining the betting aspect did not appeal. Perhaps one day I will come back to Ascot for the races. Who knows?

While flirting around with casual queries in SQL under strict instruction from my colleague, I have never got down to the nuts and bolts of the tool. This was the main motivation for my attendance on this introductory course. To begin with I was nervous, so much to learn and at times drowning in the knowledge of others writing queries instantly. This is a useful 'tool in my armoury' as the instructor included at the end of the course. Everything slowly but surely has fitted into place. Confident of going into work tomorrow and getting out of the database the data I need and not just garbage. Perhaps this confidence also requires a quick purchase. For reference only, of course!

As I left for the second and final training day this morning, I noticed my low fuel warning light come on. Not to worry. I would fill up on the way back home, particularly if the course ended early. But stubborn as I am, I drove all the way home, with very little (if any) fuel in the tank. There were a few scary moments. I got stuck on the by-pass in heavy traffic, only to discover a car broken down in the fast lane. Then as I approached Handy Cross another vehicle broken down in the adjacent lane. I was running out of time and was worried that I would have to either call out the RAC or (more likely) call my Dad to bring me some diesel. As always, living dangerously I got to the BP petrol station in time. Just.

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