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Peter Thomas every Monday and Friday: Will to live returns thanks to maker of very fine shirts.

Byline: Peter Thomas

IF I were anything to do with Peterborough United, I'd be feeling pretty cheesed off at the moment. In addition to being down the bottom of Division Two and coming from Peterborough, those connected with the club now have to put up with the ignominy of being dragged through the courts by the otherwise unremarkable wife of a rich footballer to establish their right to a nickname they've used without challenge for the past 70 years.

If she were squaring up to Northampton Town for the undisputed right to describe her career to date as Cobblers, then I would have no hesitation in declaring Mrs Beckham the rightful owner of the title.

In the meantime, let us all be thankful there's no football team out there that calls itself `The Mediocre Pipe-cleaner-shaped People', or else we'd be in for months of tabloid hell.

This unseemly trademark dispute makes you wonder whether, if she had been kidnapped, she would have negotiated ten per cent of the media rights to the ransom note.

It also makes you wonder what kind of person would be tempted to buy Peterborough United after-shave lotion or, for that matter, Victoria Beckham CDs.

More importantly, it makes you wonder just how greedy the rich have to get before they disappear up their own gold-rimmed fundaments.

It's the kind of thing, coming during a week of incessant rain and gloom, that makes you wonder if life is really all it's cracked up to be.

I've never held much truck with Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I finally realised what it was all about when I switched on the TV on a wintry Saturday night to find that Angus Deayton had been replaced by Anne Robinson as frontperson of Have I Got News for You.

Now, I know Angus is a serial love cheat and cocaine abuser with, allegedly, barely a shred of human decency about him, but there are limits to what any man should be forced to endure.

Being usurped by the winking ginger shrew is surely beyond the pale in the eyes of all right-thinking individuals. I expect him to sue forthwith.

So it was that on Sunday morning I found myself searching for reasons to carry on.

Fortunately, a glance at the fixture list revealed that next weekend brings us the day that annually brings solace to all those suffering from Alan Beri-Beri - a disease that induces suicidal tendencies in people who feel they can't survive until next March without seeing a precocious two-year-old.

Thomas Pink Day is coming to the rescue. The Flat bowed out on Saturday, and its passing is something I mourn, but all thoughts of moderate summer jumping can be banished now that Cheltenham is sprucing itself up for the first visit of the winter game's serious players.

It used to be that the word Mackeson quickened the pulse and enjoyed a sense of irreplaceability, but Thomas Pink have hit the ground running with their Open meeting and their name has seamlessly come to trip off the tongue from the end of October onwards.

THIS maker of very fine shirts (151/2 collar, regular sleeve, thanks) and unforgivable Wellington boots (don't bother) should make us all feel very glad that the race wasn't taken over by Bogfresh Sanitary Products and that Mrs Beckham has, as yet, not revealed a desire to be known in future as Pink Spice.

All of which is not to malign the contribution of the Badger Brewery Chase (best bitter, please, as much as you like), the James Nicholson Wine Merchant Championship Chase (mixed case of the good stuff, thanks) and the KJ Pike & Sons Elite Hurdle (I don't know what you make, but cash would be nice), but it's next Saturday that really does the trick.

And it also marks the reappearance of the annual debate over whether the intelligent punter should be backing the Martin Pipe-trained horse that has been installed as favourite for the main event.

There is a medium-sized chasm between the two camps: on the one side, the `Clearly, 3-1 is a ludicrously short price about any horse for such a competitive handicap' contingent; and on the other, the `It's trained by Pipe, so back it at any odds until your bank account squeaks' mob.

The former club is losing members at an alarming rate, but still we'll have the dissenters this week advising punters to seek out the value in the market. They'll offer up any number of each-way bets at double-figure prices in a market made lopsided by the reputation of a man who is, some still claim, only human.

And then, come the middle of Saturday afternoon, they'll be peering vainly into the Prestbury murk to catch a glimpse of anything that might finish within 20 lengths of the Pipe-trained winner.

It's funny how 3-1 starts to look like a big price when the tapes go up, isn't it?
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Nov 11, 2002
Words:822
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