Archive for August, 2019

Preparing for the house move has taken up a lot of time in the last fortnight and the house is in uproar, with almost 100 boxes filled with many of our worldly goods and another ten or twelve containing my collection of Racing Calendars, with all the results back to the 18th century.

At Salisbury  last week I met Chris and Mary Pitt.  Chris is the author of one of the classic books of modern times, A Long Time Gone.  Not many racing books go beyond a first edition, but his definitive, highly esteemed work on all the racecourses that closed since 1900 did.  We had corresponded off and on ever since the 1990s, but this was the first time we had met.  It was a pleasure.  I was glad to hear that there are very few copies of his book about Worcester races left – buy now if you haven’t already!  His more recent one about Warwick is doing well and he’s well on the way working on his next project, which is about a racing family with a dramatic, hitherto-untold story.

I’ve had no answer as to whether my terms for the new project will prove acceptable.   If it doesn’t, I will revert to the original post-Salisbury and Ffos Las plan of leisurely research on a range of esoteric racing subjects.  They have no commercial outcome.  Books may or may not emerge, but I will simply do them for my own interest.

Whatever happens, this is the time to end my blog.  I have been round the block a few times describing the process of writing, and a degree of repetition has set in.  I started on 10 February 2011 when the Bath book was in preparation, encouraged by the lovely Diana, who set up the WordPress site for me.  Bath was completed in that first year, and five more books have been written since.

I can point to the blog having thousands of views and visitors.  Not all of them will be bots or malware.   The Racing Post kindly wrote about my blog one day.  Several people have been in touch and I’ve had some interesting correspondence.  Gregory, studying an Austrian artist who was briefly interned on Brighton racecourse; Alfred, about his great grandfather jockey; Scandinavian Stephanie probing the Alfred Day family and their in-laws; Andrew, striving to redeem the reputation of the 19th century Days.

So, with thanks to my readers, regular or occasional, I will bring the curtain down here.

But the research goes on!

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I’ve spent quite a bit of time on the new project, which I will keep under my hat until I know that my sponsor is willing to give it the official go-ahead.  In anticipation of that I’ve already acquired plenty of material.  In the past I’ve been apt to start researching a book before full and final authorisation to proceed – I can’t help myself.  It’s the same again now.  I mentioned it to a friend at Brighton races the other day, who promptly told Matt Chapman, who was on duty there for Sky Sports Racing.  I had to tell him it was still premature to broadcast it, but he was fine with that and said we could do it another time.

I doubt if it’ll be the next Brighton meeting, which is on Tuesday week after Windsor’s final Monday evening meeting of the season.  Matt often appears at them, so I’d be surprised if he did Brighton the next day.   Coincidentally, I had called in at Windsor a few days earlier, hoping they could find some copies of the remaining stock of my book marking its 150th anniversary in 2016.  I was down to my last few, but they’ve given me a decent number.  I hope I will be able to sell a few more if and when Rupert invites me onto this bookstall again.  I could do with some more Fontwells and I am waiting to hear if the staff there can find some for me.

We are on the verge of moving house and this is going to be a significant distraction in the weeks ahead.  Huge numbers of books need to be shifted and there is talk from Mrs B about having custom-made bookshelves in the new abode.  It has three storeys but I’m not sure that’ll be enough.

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