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Archive for October, 2011

The focus has been entirely on Alfred Day this week.  I’ve decided on the quantity to be printed and the running order of the pictures (all black and white, to give me a chance of recouping my expenditure).   I’m now waiting for a proof copy from the printers.  Meanwhile Fontwell kindly mentioned The Days of Fontwell in the racecard for last week’s meeting and hopefully will continue to do so.  I will take them some copies to sell from the racecourse office.   One of my old contacts from the nearby Weald & Downland Museum has come up with some possible selling opportunities and a good idea about mentioning it to the Sussex Book Club – another outlet that’s obvious, yet I’d never thought of it. 

I have quite a few people to contact to make this book’s existence known, but first I want to see and feel the finished product, so that I can make my mind up about how much the postage and packing will cost and how much I can charge.

Bath is not finished or forgotten, there’s still work to be done marketing it – but for now I am waiting on others to see what they can do.

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The Alfred Day text has been checked yet again and cut back a little.  It is now with the printer, with 3 slightly different lists of pictures.  The ultimate choice will depend on what is the extra cost of having some of the images in colour.   There is still one paragraph near the end that might change, but that shouldn’t be enough to incur any extra cost.  The main thing is that I hope I have formatted the Word document so that its physical appearance in A5 size is what I intended it to be.

Choosing the number to produce is almost a guess, and the final choice will depend on how optimistic I feel at the moment I get the printer’s quotes.

Although Bath have no more meetings till the spring they will be starting to plan for next year.  I’ve given them one idea of my own which I hope they like; if only they can do something with it before other courses latch on to it.

A chance encounter with a racing journalist I know slightly led to him offering to review my Bath book.  Let’s hope he can get it mentioned.  His own articles often hark back to “the good old days”, very amusingly, and when I read a collection of them (which he kindly gave me) I admire the way his humour comes across seemingly effortlessly.  He sets a high standard.

I haven’t given up hope that we may get someone in one of the big national dailies to mention it, but it will be difficult now that the season’s over.  I am also keeping my fingers crossed that the Avon Local History & Archaeology Society, with 10,000 members on their books, may feature a review of it if the man I’ve sent a review copy to likes it.

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The Wife of Bath

I’m glad to say that today’s crowd at Bath was blessed with another brilliantly sunny day (we have had so many this autumn it has made up for the poor summer) and I gather the attendance was much bigger than the corresponding meeting last year.  I think the racecourse has had a good year celebrating 200 years of racing on Lansdown.  I hope the book has played a small part in its success.  I was brave enough to ask a couple of people there about the sales figures.  They didn’t know off hand, so I will settle for not knowing until curiosity gets too much for me.

A novelty event staged today was a wife-carrying contest, inspired by reports of this activity which is big in Scandinavia.   Despite there only being four couples, it was a great race with a dramatic finish.  The winning wife was very pleased.  I hope someone has put it on Youtube.  Next year I wish they would revive the pig race that they had in 2010, which was inevitably called the Ham National.

With Alfred Day, as predicted last week I have gone through the next draft on paper and corrected that on Word.  There can’t be much more for me to change.

The printers have given me a rough quote, which is useful.  It assumes all the pictures are black and white.  Now I’d like some colour ones, but I don’t know how much extra that’ll be.  I’ve therefore produced three different lists of pictures – one assumes eight will be colour, the next assumes four, the final one assumes none.  When I show the printers this the alternative prices they give will – er – colour my judgement on which option to take.

Susie, one of my Fontwell contacts, has been very helpful in suggesting where I can market it.  Just after I was first asked to do the Fontwell book it so happened that Susie was leading a project to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the nearby Eastergate Village Hall.  A special one-day exhibition was being arranged at the hall and they wanted to have a stall about Alfred Day, one of its co-founders.  It was a happy coincidence.  I was able to give them some information and I helped man the stall.  All the locals flooding in who knew everyone else must have wondered who this stranger was.  It was both logical and odd that I, who knew nothing about the village or the hall, should be part of the event.  Susie suggested people I might contact as part of my Fontwell research, and later I found out a few more things about the hall. 

That is typical of the sort of new places I’ve been to and new people I’ve met purely as a result of doing these books.  That’s part of the attraction of doing some more!  Developments on that subject are on hold at the moment but I need to finish Alfred Day first anyway.

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Racing Ahead

News came through of a good review for Bath in Racing Ahead magazine.  This magazine seems hard to find on newsstands – WH Smith is supposed to sell it, but I saw no sign of it at two Central London branches.  The magazine’s website had a link to a distributor where you could find out your nearest stockist, but the link led to a website under development.  I rang up Racing Ahead to point this out and in the course of the conversation they kindly offered to send me a complimentary copy.

It’s a long review – a good one, though I say it myself, and entertaining, but with a few new imperfections in the text uncovered.  Bizarrely it is illustrated with a picture of the empty Bath stands, captioned, “The book is a lot more interesting than this picture of Bath racecourse!”  I hope the readers of Racing Ahead are readers of racing history too. 

Otherwise it’s been all Alfred Day this week.  I thought I had a final draft, but I re-read it and made about a hundred changes.  Then I realised that the A4 draft I was reading would need reformatting if produced as size B5 (like the Fontwell book) or indeed A5, which is what I’ll probably go for.  Sorting out a few formatting issues happily helped me learn new things about Word.  Now what’s the betting I will print another draft, read it, change it and report I am in the same position again this time next week?

Next Sunday is Bath’s last meeting of the year, and therefore potentially my last visit for some time.   I may be M4-lagged after the long drive home, so my next post may be a day late.

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There are still a few branches of Prontaprint, or in the case of the shop I found near my workplace, its ex-franchisees.  I think they will be able to put the Alfred Day book together with a fairly basically-formatted Word document, jpgs and a few simple instructions.  Suddenly the finished article seems close, so I must go back and re-read it before giving them the raw materials.  I had a goodish draft two years ago and although I have found other information since then, the changes won’t be substantial.  Nevertheless I need to check it carefully, having found that what I thought were facts in the Bath book were not!  My memory had rearranged a couple into a slightly different version of reality.

A Sussex Sport magazine devoted almost entirely to Fontwell has come out and although it mentions me and that book – buried deep in the text – there was no mention of Alfred Day.  Perhaps understandably.

Another Bathonian has emailed me wanting more information on the duel mentioned in the Bath book.  I have put him in touch with one of my other Bath contacts who is keen to pinpoint the location of it.  He knows a lady who is The Expert on the subject.   There is talk of marking its location with a plaque, but my new correspondent tells me a commemorative stone was placed in the vicinity before.  Whether it’s been removed or is covered by overgrowth brings another element into the mystery.

 Bath racecourse are laying on some refreshments in a hospitality suite for their annual members at their final meeting on 16 October.  I’ve got a member’s badge, I can go!  I should treat this as an opportunity to sell a few more.  Then I saw elsewhere in the literature that they would love to know what people think of the book. 

If anyone reading this is a Bath annual members, only say nice things please.

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