With the longshot Oxbow winning yesterday’s Preakness over the favourite Orb, it’s time to think about betting. Peter and Rob are using the betting shop as their venue for butting heads. In the course of that, some discussion of the bookmaking business does occur.
Barlow’s Bookies is as much an anachronism in today’s real England as Underworld is. In reality, Carla would be having knickers stitched in Bangladesh, not on the street near where she lives, and Peter would be manager of a Ladbrokes betting shop, not an independent bookie with a single backstreet shop.
In both businesses, Rob has given voice to the new economic reality. When he set up business on his own after Carla returned, he was soliciting orders and filling them without having a bricks and mortar building. Was he using manufacturers in the Third World or hiring local seamstresses on a piecework basis? Carla soon brought him back into Underworld so we don’t really know how his independent business panned out.
Now, after buying out Leanne’s share of Barlow’s Bookies, Carla installed Rob as Creative Consultant to improve Peter’s rapidly failing business. Rob was the one to mention the competition given by on-line gambling. The popularity of internet betting has contributed to the financial woes of large bookie chains in England for quite a few years. Internet betting, along with the large chains themselves, would cause major headaches for a small independent bookie like Peter. It says a lot about the unseen gambling habits, and lack of luck, of the citizens of Weatherfield that Barlow’s Bookies is still in business at all!
The conflict between Peter and Rob is between old ways and new. This was illustrated by Peter unplugging the new computer and handing Rob a pad and pencil to figure out the payout on Steve’s each way bet. Since taking over in 2009, I doubt Peter has ever calculated odds and payouts by hand. The point that he is trying to make, however, is that he can and Rob ought to be able to. Rob gets him back later in the week when he calculates on paper Tommy’s accumulator winnings on a 50 pence bet.
In modernizing the business, Rob is probably right. In respecting the basics of bookmaking – horses, courses and mental acuity – Peter is right too. It would be nice to see them succeed as a team, Rob upgrading the ambience and the technical equipment and Peter keeping the traditions of betting and betting shops. This bookie shop could use both horses running both courses. But the dramatic point is to have two massive male egos, and two massive adult crybabies, clash. Still, I will hope that each can see the value of the other’s “skill-set” (a term Rob probably loves) and they can keep Barlow’s Bookies, a lone bastion of a past age, alive and thriving.