My first client was a chap called Henry Brown way back in 1958. He was a likeable chap, but he was as tight as a duck's arse. He didn't like to spend a penny more than he had to, and to be honest he didn't even like to spend that. Henry was a slim feller, in his 60s, I always thought the reason he was so thin was because he was too tight to even feed himself properly.
I trained a horse called Steal A March for Henry. He'd come down to the yard every morning to see if his horse had eaten up. But the thing I most remember about Henry was his stutter, the likes of which I have never heard before.
Henry would go inspect his horse, then he'd come over to the house and address me in his usual way.
There was always a very pronounced 'ill' on the end of my name.
"Her-her-her-how about a drop of wer-wer-wer-whisky before I ger-ger-ger-go?"
So I'd pour him a small glass of Scotch and he'd have his drink and he'd be on his way. I think in the winter it warmed him up so he didn't need to light his fire at home.
One morning he came in and after his usual "mur-mur-mike-ill" and the rest he looked at me all serious.
"Oh bugger" I thought to meself. "What's he after?"
Then came the anticipated request, albeit an unusual one.
"Me per-per-per-pal's died, can I ber-ber-ber-borrow yer ber-ber-blue suit for the fer-fer-fer-funeral?"
In the time he'd managed to spit out the whole sentence they'd probably had time to bur-bur-bury his pal four times over, but I agreed and he bundled it up and off he went, after a prolonged "ther-ther-ther-thank you".
The suit was returned after the funeral as Henry visited his beloved her-her-horse.
It was about ten days later that a second request was made.
"Mur-mur-mur-mur-mur-mike-ill, can I ber-ber-ber-borrow yer ser-ser-suit again?"
I forget the reason this time, but I reluctantly agreed and off Henry went with the suit, dutifully returning the garment the following morning.
Three weeks had passed when, after visiting the horse, Henry approached me again. I knew he was after something, you could tell by his manner.
"Oh no, not the bloody suit again," I thought to meself.
"Me per-per-per-pal's died", started Henry, "Can I ber-ber-ber-borrow yer suit again?"
I'd had enough by now, it's a bit of a bugger when you have to borrow a suit every week.
"Henry", I snapped at him. "Why don't you keep the bloody suit, don't bother bringing it back this time."
And off he went on his merry way, apparently delighted at his acquisition.
That man had no shame when money, or more to the point not spending it, was involved.
But that was nothing compared to our trip to Southwell to watch his bloody horse run a few weeks later when I decided to get my own back and see just how far the man's meanness would stretch.