"Would you bet on that?"
"Not with a man from William Hill," said Banks, and the crowd laughed.
For the next 10 or 15 minutes, Banks was busy booking bets, adjusting the odds on his blackboard every few moments. The bets were all cash, and Banks made change from the leather satchel hanging from his stand. On a big race day he may have as much as $60,000 stuffed in the satchel.
An elderly lady, neatly dressed and dignified, approached him before the start of the second race, before Banks had chalked up his starting odds. She fumbled in a large bag, then produced two pounds. "Two pounds on Richboy to win," she said, almost inaudibly. Banks took the money and looked at her affectionately.
"I haven't posted the odds," he said. "Would you take 5 to 1, madam?"
"Yes," she said, "if you think it fair."
"Then it will be 6 to 1," said Banks. He took a small card from a stack on his stand and handed it to her, and a clerk, with a large ruled pad, listed the bet and the odds and the number of the card. When Banks chalked up the odds later Richboy was 9 to 2, and by the time the race went off he was 7 to 2. Richboy lost to a long shot, so the lady did not cash her ticket. Payoffs take place after a race is declared official.
"In my shops in Glasgow I pay on first past the post," Banks explained. "I don't take inquiries into account. That is the off-course way. But here, we must pay on the official order of finish."
One bettor collected over 200 pounds on the winner, which Banks paid out quickly, counting the pound notes almost faster than the eye could follow. "Aye, that's a large packet of money for a punter," he said, giving the man his winnings. "That's too thick for a punter, man."
"Twill come back to you, John," the man said. "It always does, in time."