Archive for June, 2019

The Salisbury book is reviewed in today’s Racing Post.

It’s pleasing, although quite sparing as regards comments about the quality of the book (“tales told in detail and told with devotion” is more or less all).

The writer takes the view that the older history is much more interesting than the present.  He does refer to several highlights of the course’s long-ago past that I hope will entice buyers. Racing Post review 300619

It’s a mixed blessing that the review is printed directly below one about Chris Pitt’s excellent book about the history of Warwick races.  Another course with a long history, it has the benefit of staging jump racing for the best part of 200 years, which is an activity that I feel generates more – and more interesting – incidents and anecdotes in a biography than a flat race-only course.  Presentationally the Warwick book is very attractive, there is a constant flow of interesting content and I’d say Chris is a livelier writer than me.  So, if you have any cash left over after buying Salisbury and Ffos Las, the Warwick book (titled Chandler’s Leap and Other Stories from Warwick Racecourse) is available from the racecourse for £16.50, presumably with postage and packing to add if necessary.

Last Monday the Daily Express article by Neil Clark about me was printed.  It’s pretty good, although the newspaper’s sub-editors have deleted some text and added some of their own.  There are some baffling typos (three years were added to my age, which instantly made me feel that much older) and it’s a pity it wasn’t published during Royal Ascot, but I am happy with it on the whole.  Their decision to have a picture of the Queen rather than me was a wise one.

Daily Express article re JB with pictures

I see no sign of it on the Express website.  Perhaps I’m being greedy!  Given that it was in the general features section in the middle of the printed newspaper, I wondered whether it would go under Sport, Lifestyle or Entertainment.

We sold some more books at Salisbury’s very pleasant meeting on Wednesday and heard some more positive feedback from those who had read it.

I’ve been writing to some of my old book-buying customers – some of whom have been on the mailing list for 20 years – and was gratified to receive prompt replies, containing cheques, asking with just one exception for both Salisbury and Ffos Las.  There are more marketing avenues to follow up for both books in the next few weeks.

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After the anticipated excitement two weeks ago of the Ffos Las book launch and Daily Express article, damp squib is the phrase that comes to mind.

Hardly anybody was at Ffos Las last Thursday week and the number of sales I made was tiny.  I signed more than I sold.  That was thanks to Tidds, one of the people who have worked there from the start, who had already bought a number of copies to give to different people.  He is one of those invaluable types (in any organisation) who knows where everything is, what happened x years in the past and what has to be done in the latest crisis.

Two of the possible four in-laws kept me company and gave me great moral support.  They really shouldn’t be let loose on a racecourse, though; I found they’d put £2 each way on a 4/11 favourite.  (It finished out of the frame)

There will be more of a push on the book this Thursday, which is close to the true 10th anniversary of the course’s opening.  Though I won’t be there, I hope they will get some local rugby-playing celebrities to sign copies, and endorse it in the other sense too.

The Daily Express feature, which was expected in the aftermath of the Derby, had to be deferred because there was too much Trump and D-Day news for it to be fitted in.  Until when, I don’t know.  I sincerely hope it will be in this week, tied in to Royal Ascot.

The day after Ffos Las, I travelled up to Uttoxeter, to go racing and meet some old friends.  It rained all day but the racegoers, many there for Sausage & Cider Festival (particularly the latter) didn’t seem too bothered.

Weather permitting, I will be back at Salisbury on the 26th trying to sell that book the annual members and the regulars who haven’t yet bought one.

I have nearly finished reading Chris Pitt’s book about Warwick.  It’s a good story and presentationally this book is much livelier than mine.   I’ll say more about it later.

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Double excitement here as the clock ticks down to two key events.  One is the launch of my new Ffos Las book, at the races there on Thursday evening.  In my typical pessimistic fashion, because I have not yet seen it in physical form, I worry that there’s something wrong.  So far it always has been all right on the night…

Some of the in-laws are going to be with me at Ffos Las to mark the occasion; there’s extra pressure!  Here’s hoping that the weather forecast (cool, bright spells and showers) is wrong.  It will have a bigger splash at their race meeting on the 20th, closer to the precise date of the course’s tenth anniversary.  Sadly I won’t be there for that, but it would be nice if some Welsh rugby celeb could be present to sign a few copies.

Before then I hope to see my name in the national press, if not in lights.  The Daily Express is doing a feature about me and my love of racecourses and writing about them.  This is entirely thanks to a very kind gentleman I met just a few weeks ago at Ascot when we were helping to sell books on Rupert’s stand.  Neil is a racing journalist who turns his hand to feature writing as well for the Express.  He’s a very versatile chap, for one of his most recent articles was about rabbits.

His pitch about me to the powers that be there was successful, and we have had some long chats that he has turned into a feature-length article.  It should appear on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, but we may not know until going to the newsagents that day and buying the paper.  Appearing soon after the Derby and not long before Royal Ascot is particularly happy timing, when racing is more in the mind of the general public.

I hope this will boost Salisbury and Ffos Las book sales.

Neil himself has written a jolly good book himself about Edgar Wallace, a prolific author in the early part of the 20th century yet largely forgotten now.  His books weren’t exactly great literature, but they were page-turners and wildly popular.  In the 1920s one in four of all books bought in this country was an Edgar Wallace.  I bought a copy of Neil’s book at Ascot and have finished it already.

Since then I have started on Chris Pitt’s new book about the history of Warwick races.  It is coincidence that all these books about racecourses are being produced at the same time.

Despite all this going on, I must say that it feels peculiar not to have one of my own works to be getting on with researching, writing or checking – a situation I have rarely been in over the last 20 years.

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