Archive for November, 2015

I write this on the eve of the Uttoxeter book launch.  It was inevitable that a last-minute hitch would arise – if only we knew what it would be in advance!  But it doesn’t affect the fact that the book is ready.  The press release has gone out, I’ve been contacted by a regional magazine planning a colour feature on the book and I’ve also done an interview for Radio Derby.  In these situations it can be tricky deciding how much of a story to relate in order to attract interest without giving away what happens.

I think back to other launch days and how many copies were sold then, and wonder what it will be like tomorrow.  At Fontwell we had the benefit of the immensely popular Josh Gifford as a guest book-signer.  There are no suitable celebrities on hand tomorrow, it’ll just be me doing the signing.  I will be interested to see the rest of the marketing plan.

Separately, I’ve made good progress with Windsor speaking to people connected to its management over a long period.  Their story is quite complicated, so I envisage writing it out “unabridged” for myself before composing an edited version suitable for publication.  While they were able to give me some valuable insights, I was able to tell them a few things they didn’t know about the course and we will remain in touch.

I had planned to finish Windsor research by the end of November.  That deadline looks like slipping back because there are still various leads and sources of information I’ve yet to tap.  What I could do while that continues is to start writing one or two self-contained episodes.  Various non-racing domestic activities start tailing off in the middle of December and after that I should have more scope to get on with the writing.  Its publication is timetabled for little more than six months away, which suddenly sounds quite close.

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Nearly done

It’s all systems go with Uttoxeter now. The launch is definitely on Sunday 22 November, when they have a race meeting.  I was startled to hear last week that they wanted changes to the text.  Fortunately there weren’t many and they were minor.  They also wanted a new photo to go in but it was easy to nominate one to take out, enabling a straight swap.

Two days after I emailed the changes to my contact at the printers I had (untypically) heard nothing, so I rang them. I found my man had left.  Fortunately others were dealing with the work.  We are now at the stage where the amendments have been done but the revised proofs have fresh mistakes!  (Or in one case, an error that occurred some time ago and wasn’t spotted, ie a single page mysteriously having no header or page number.)  In order for the launch to go ahead we must have the proofs agreed and error-free by next Wednesday evening.  I also have to supply a quote about my work on the book for a press release.

Two of my three lots sold at the auction a few weeks ago. I was surprised how few people attended.  Most of the action came from bids made in advance and from internet and phone bidders.  The main excitement came with the sale of the rights to register various sets of racing colours.  Judging by the trouble they took to get international callers on the phone I suspect it was an overseas owner who secured the all-silver set for a whopping £120,000.

I had a very productive meeting at Windsor last week, bringing the management up to date with the progress of that book and inspecting the stands with my architect chum Neil. We wanted to investigate how much of the old stand is original from when the course was laid out in 1865-6.  More about that when the book comes out!  Gaining access to rooftops and peaking into the commentator’s box is always an exciting privilege at least once per racecourse researched.  On the first floor of the stands, down some winding corridors I hadn’t been to before, I was surprised to come across an upmarket gentleman’s tailor operating out of a couple of rooms.  They can’t get much passing trade, but it seems to suit them.  Yes, I meant to say that.

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