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Archive for March, 2019

To my surprise Vice magazine has been added to the list of places where my name is quoted in connection with racing history.  I was approached by David Hillier, a journalist who had been commissioned to write an article about violence at the races, in view of trouble at Haydock in February, and at Ascot and other tracks last summer.  He was interested to know whether this was a new problem, and found me by searching online for “racing historian”.  Hooray for Google.  I was able to tell him the answer was definitely no.  Just think of Brighton Rock – and see the chapters in many of my books where 1920s gang warfare affected meetings such as genteel Bath, or 19th century chicanery with con-men, find-the-lady tables and welshing bookies.

I gave David quite a bit of material to consider.  I didn’t expect the whole lot to be quoted, but enough was used to justify me getting a name-check and an unexpected addition to my portfolio.

Vice is not as insalubrious as its name suggests, and the content is serious, quirky, and from my quick look at it, well-written.  But it’s not for the proverbial maiden aunt to read.  It can be read online here.

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/qvya9x/a-brief-history-of-the-mass-brawls-at-british-racing-events

Meanwhile a revised proof of the Salisbury book from the printers should be with me in a few days, and I’m hopeful there won’t be many more versions before we can say “print”.  The last photo to be included, a group shot of staff and directors, has been received (necessitating a re-jig of the colour section, as it was of Cinemascope width rather than an ordinary landscape shape).  The front and back covers are 99% done.

Now I am concentrating on getting the Ffos Las text close to completion, while waiting to find out what we can spend on photos.  (Smaller book, smaller budget)

 

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Getting there

We’re back on course with the Salisbury book.  The first pdf from the printers looked very good, but glancing through it I saw a few minor errors on their part and a proof-read by Mrs Racinghistorian revealed a whole lot more typos and errors that I had missed.  I sent a list of about 50 amendments to the printers, and though I feared ructions, they took it in good part.  They’ve had them a week now and I hope to get the next version soon.  I already have a few fresh changes that will need to be incorporated, primarily a statement by the racecourse chairman that needs to go in.  More important from the time perspective, the next pdf needs to have page numbers, so that I can update the index (a lengthy job in itself).

We’d also had to wait for a day when all the staff and directors could get together to have a group picture taken of them.  That was done last week.  A half-page space had been left in the colour section of the book for it, but the photo itself is of Cinemascope shape, ie a stretched landscape; so a certain amount of re-ordering will be necessary.  We are still finalising the images to go on the front and back covers.

The racecourse tweeted an announcement about the book’s impending publication a few days ago, so it’s getting more and more official.  The aim is still to be on sale at their first meeting of the season on Sunday 28 April.  There’s still a fair bit to do before then!

I haven’t been idle with Ffos Las.  We’ve got pictures from a number of different sources and will soon have to choose what we want, but I need to know what the budget is for them.  I also need to get the racecourse people to get some idea of the cost of printing. This book will be different to my others in that we don’t need to have any black and white pictures, but how will that affect the cost?

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