He rustled the pleated pages, jerking his chin on his high collar. Barber’s itch. Tight collar he’ll lose his hair. Better leave him the paper and get shut of him.
—You can keep it, Mr Bloom said.
—Ascot. Gold cup. Wait, Bantam Lyons muttered. Half a mo. Maximum the second.
—I was just going to throw it away, Mr Bloom said.
Bantam Lyons raised his eyes suddenly and leered weakly.
—What’s that? his sharp voice said.
—I say you can keep it, Mr Bloom answered. I was going to throw it away that moment.
Bantam Lyons doubted an instant, leering: then thrust the outspread sheets back on Mr Bloom’s arms.
—I’ll risk it, he said. Here, thanks.
He sped off towards Conway’s corner. God speed scut.
Mr Bloom folded the sheets again to a neat square and lodged the soap in it, smiling. Silly lips of that chap. Betting. Regular hotbed of it lately. Messenger boys stealing to put on sixpence. Raffle for large tender turkey. Your Christmas dinner for threepence. Jack Fleming embezzling to gamble then smuggled off to America. Keeps a hotel now. They never come back. Fleshpots of Egypt.
I thought perhaps “half a mo” was perhaps the name of another horse but I google proved that it was a colloquialism for “half a moment” ( source ).
I had never heard of the Ascot cup, but quickly found it to be a very prestigious horse race in England, similar to the US triple crown. Thanks to Pathe’ I actually found some news real footage of the race in 1930.
The wikipedia page for the race has the winners for every year since its inception and the actual winner for 1904 was “Throwaway” ( source ). Joyce pays so very careful attention to place his novel so specifically in a time and place. I also find a certain irony in that now we have moved into a post-modern era the time and place of his novel seems antiquated.