Archive for October, 2016

Project number 2 completed last Sunday, when my first ever review of someone else’s book was published in the Racing Post. I couldn’t be sure when it would appear until the day itself, and I didn’t want to say anything in advance in case it was deferred or radically altered.  The author in question has produced rather more studious works than mine, so it felt a bit presumptuous for the apprentice to give feedback to the master.

It is quite a delicate art. One has a deadline and given a number of words to keep within.  Obviously I had to explain what the book is about and give an opinion, but some critics use reviews to show how clever they think they are.  I wanted to concentrate on the description so that readers would get a good idea of they would like the book and buy it.  The word count limit meant that I had to choose every word very carefully to ensure it conveyed the desired description in the briefest possible terms.

Seeing my words make it into print without many changes by the books editor, I felt pleased and relieved. He has sent me another one to review, so I hope I can become an established member of his panel.  This book is only ninety pages, and I’ve been able to compose my first draft quite quickly.  I read it in one sitting, unlike The Blood is Racing (see four weeks ago).  This is a very different kettle of fish containing lots of history, familiar and otherwise, and demanding much more concentration.

There hasn’t been much time for Bromley work, though this morning I had a walk round the area where the 19th century racecourse was.  I would like to pin down its exact location; it didn’t last long enough to feature on any maps.  There were some parts where I thought, “Yes, it might have been here.”  Further research needed!

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I’ve completed project number 2 in the last fortnight and I’m now waiting and hoping it will appear in print, but that might be any time between next weekend and Christmas.

I enjoyed the hospitality of the Windsor management last week in their Castle Restaurant overlooking the racecourse. It was a kind thank you gesture for writing the book.  The food was amazing, although I could not identify all of the ingredients in the rather exotic dishes I consumed.  So was the weather, with warmth and blue skies more appropriate to midsummer.  Naff though it may be, I took a picture of the dessert as a memento.  No, it’s not going on this blog or any other social media.  Another favourable review of the book has appeared in the Oct-Nov edition of Horse & Countryside.

I made the long trek by rail to Hereford on Thursday to be present for the much-appreciated reopening of the course after four years in mothballs.  (A course with a very long history and no book about it)  I and other rail travellers were disconcerted to come out of the station forty minutes before the first race to find no taxis.  One or two came along, but they had been pre-booked by other people.  After ten minutes a free one appeared, which four of us piled into.  It soon became apparent that many of the roads around the course were gridlocked through sheer volume of people trying to get there.  Our taxi driver took us a back way that avoided the mayhem in the car park.

We got to the main entrance with a quarter of an hour to go, where there were about a hundred people milling round waiting to get in. Brandishing my Brighton member’s badge, which entitles me to free entry to other tracks in the same ownership such as Hereford, I sailed through another gate and instantly bumped into David, my great helper from Uttoxeter, who with his wife was a guest of the management.  Though he was particularly associated with the Staffordshire track, he had also been clerk of the course at Hereford in his time.  It was a wonderful bonus to see them.  With his help I was able to enjoy the comfort of the hospitality marquee and catch up with news from Staffordshire while outside the rest of the unexpectedly huge crowd watched a series of favourites win.

Let’s hope the locals turn out in sufficient numbers for its other fixtures to justify its renaissance.

Post-race plus rush hour traffic meant I missed my homeward train and my connection at Birmingham, and in the end I didn’t get in till after midnight. Fortunately I had a good book with me (not one of mine).  It all made for a memorable day.

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