Archive for September, 2013

14,000 and counting

Brighton a fortnight ago was enjoyable, but the car played up again and has had its fourth trip to the garage.  Since then it’s been all right and I am more confident about its stamina for a long distance run than I have been for months.  I have a few distant racing forays – ie more than a hundred miles each way – in mind.  How necessary are they though?  Is it a case of fancying a trip rather than “needing” one?  Fitting them in with work dates and minimising hotel costs are factors.   Would I be better off waiting for more gaps in the research to appear before revisiting my Staffordshire sources?  There’s one I know I should go back to, but if I wait a bit perhaps I could justify a three-day trip including a race meeting rather than a two-dayer.

I tell myself I am getting on with the Uttoxeter text, although it is mainly at weekends.  The rough draft stands at 14,000 words so far and I feel I am roughly half way.  That suggests it will be a shorter book than Bath or Fontwell, but that’s OK – not having an editor standing over me means they can be as long or as short as I like. I didn’t get much done yesterday, though,when I spent about four hours replacing a light switch – don’t ask – nor today when I’ve been to Epsom races.  I can do bits and pieces on some evenings after work.

It seems odd having Epsom meetings so late in the year. There used to be a three-day midweek meeting in April, which was one of my first regular racing events – my parents took me there two or three times in the early 1970s. As every old racing fogey recalls, though there was a Derby Trial (and still is) the two and a quarter mile Great Metropolitan Handicap was the highlight, when the field started at the winning post, ran towards Tattenham Corner and just before reaching it peeled off right and took an S-shaped course marked only by a few white posts at isolated intervals on the downs before rejoining the railed main track with a mile to go. They couldn’t do it nowadays – health and safety.

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Get on with it

I am disappointed to find that my last blog, due on 1 September, didn’t appear even though I’d pressed the Publish button. Somehow it’s been languishing at the Draft stage. Now it’s being superseded with this one.

I’ve managed to get into the swing of writing Uttoxeter, which has been the main research-related activity in the last month. Vast amounts of time can fly by while doing the rough write – one afternoon of it felt as if it passed in the blink of an eye. No doubt the ever-present temptation to go off on a tangent and google some bit-part subject in the story soaks up more of my time than it should.

Each time I start I open the Uttoxeter file and automatically go back to one key year that there always seems to be something else to add to; yet I do move on from there and I can at least point to 7,500 words in the draft as evidence of real progress. Not all of them will survive the editing process, but at least I have some momentum going – enough to feel guilty if too many days pass without adding to the total.

That guilt may develop, for in the last few days I’ve been asked to produce some racing-related material for an exhibition next year. I’ve also got some research to do for a racecourse looking for some interesting facts about one of its big races. I want to delve more into the gaps in the Alfred Day and Binda family tree, as I have the feeling there are other pieces of the jigsaw out there for me to find. Possibly premature thoughts about my next book have come to mind, and though planning and preparation are laudable I don’t feel that I could actively research two simultaneously, so I must force myself to focus on Uttoxeter.

A continuing problem this summer with the car overheating has made me loath to arrange any visits to far-flung places like Uttoxeter – and Bath, where I’ve only been once this year – until I know it has been cured. It’s come out of its third visit to the garage this week and a run down to Brighton tomorrow will be an interesting test. I’ve enjoyed some good weather at the races there this year but it looks like it will be bracing there tomorrow.

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