I had the chance to accompany our regional beauty queen this weekend in her last public appearance before flying off to the ‘States’. We visited the various ‘confrerie’ or guild stands outside the ‘Foire du Livre’ in Brive, delighting in tasting the wares on display, from veal to mushrooms, chestnuts to apples and of course local wine recently rewarded for it’s superb quality. Our guide, the Pres’ himself, regaled us with his intimate knowledge of local produce. After savouring a photographically filled visit inside the fair we travelled to another anniversary event in the evening held in a neighbouring department. The venue is unique in the Limousin region and admits only those that have attained the magical age of 18. I am of course talking about a casino where the much regulated pastime of gambling takes place. This activity involves wagering our hard earned money on an event or the outcome of as little as the spin of a wheel. Dice are popular and the first modern form date back as far as 3000 BC and were based on the animal bones used to tell fortunes. The Chinese loved to play dominoes and cards as early as the 10th century. The first casino was established in Venice in the sixteen hundreds and the Western World has not looked back since. In England we have bookmakers in our high streets that will take a bet on anything from the name of the new Prince to the colour of his eyes! On the racecourse ‘bookies’ vary their odds in function of the money placed on a particular horse and then communicate them to their colleagues using an elaborate sign language. Here in France, contrary to what we think, there is a legal obligation to redistribute over 85% of the money played in machines and table games. Why do I always end up in the 15%?