It’s been a traditional sight at race meetings up and down the land for hundreds of years but a Sporting Life study suggesting that ‘Tic-Tac’ the ancient language of on-course bookmakers may die out within the next five years has caused consternation amongst the anthropology community, especially those who enjoy a flutter on the horses.
“The study confirms our worst fears.” said one leading dialect conservationist in his online blog yesterday. “Instead of communicating the latest odds by this uniquely special sign language, bookies simply use their mobiles phones. I just cannot understand why modern technology is allowed to wipe out years of cultural development. It’s almost criminal.”
Leading bookmakers preparing for their annual pilgrimage to the Aintree Grand National meeting appear to have little time for the dying art form. “Nah! I stopped using tic-tac years ago,” said ‘Honest’ Paddy Kennedy, “after an incident at Haydock Park when I put my hand on my hat to stop it blowing off in a gust of wind and inadvertently blew five grand on a nag that struggled to finish last. Cost me a mint.”
“It I were a betting man”, continued Mr Kennedy “I’d lay odds of 4-1 that tic-tac will die out by 2015.”
It had been hoped that the language could be introduced to the young to reduce mobile phone thefts but attempts to teach tic-tac in schools have failed mainly due to the lack of direct translations for modern street vernacular. Whilst “bitch” easily translated to “mare”, it was far more difficult to find words for “gangsta” and “kuzzys”.
Experts fear that the language may disappear altogether with its last great exponent, TV’s turf pundit John McCririck, who reaches seventy this month, an age that most racing commentators can expect to be put out to pasture.
However McCririck dismissed stories of his imminent retirement. “Absolute crazy nonsense”, he said, pointing to his temple using tic-tac signing as he spoke. “In any case, I’m not going to retire. I intend to be put out to stud.” he leered, clutching his groin.”
Extensively refurbished in honour of this weekend's Grand National