Thursday, November 25, 2010

Death is now my neighbour

Addicts of the Inspector Morse series of books and television programmes will recognise the title of this chapter as the title of a book and an episode. It's taken from a particularly sombre Morseism: Lewis tries to prompt him, "You haven't told me what you think about this fellow Owens - the dead woman's next-door neighbour", which observation elicits the response that "Death is always the next-door neighbour.". That's actually a worthwhile reminder because death is indeed always the next-door neighbour; and it is worth remembering the words of the Russian proverb, "If you live next to the cemetry (which, figuratively, we all do) you can't cry at every funeral." That doesn't alter the fact that it is just terribly sad that the racing world has lost three good men within a week, all of them dying before what should have been their time. j Following the death of Chris Watson, the wider British racing community has also lost Frank Jordan and Peter Monteith, both very pleasant and decent men who will leave the world poorer by their passing. Peter was so integral and so popular a part of the close-knit Scottish racing community that it is hard to accept that he concluded that life had nothing left to offer him; I just hope and pray that he is now at peace away from whatever was vexing him, and that his family and friends can find some small scrap of consolation in the thought that of that peace. I fear that any such consolation will, though, be hard for them to find, and the meeting at Peter's local track Musselburgh tomorrow will be a tough one for all concerned. It's just so very, very sad.

I'm afraid that my favourite topic of conversation, the weather, can't do much to lighten the mood, because winter's arrived. It's cold, damp and grey, this photograph of yesterday's dawn, seen from the top of Bury Hill, making the day seem much more welcoming than it was. Although the temperatures did subsequently go from a couple of degrees below zero to a couple above, this rise was accompanied by the arrival of low grey clouds and cold damp air which melted the frost while making the place seem colder. Still, we shall not worry too much about that while sat in a warm horse-box today and tomorrow en route for Wolverhampton, with Ethics Girl running there today and Asterisk tomorrow. Ethics Girl is running at a shorter trip than one might consider ideal and Asterisk at longer, but that's racing life: very often one's perfect race doesn't exist so one has to settle instead for the least unsuitable. Whether or not these races will be too unsuitable will be revealed over the next couple of days, but both fillies seem very well, so we'll head out in hope.

On another matter, I see that RFCgate continues to rumble on, with former Newmarket Racecourses chairman Peter Player expressing his grave misgivings over the changes in today's Racing Post. I might take James Underwood's annual to the races with me to study if I have some free time there. I'm sure that it will be interesting as I see that the sub-headline for his leading article runs thus, "British racing is broke and sinking through apathy - but it's still spending millions on high salaries, expensive 'reports' and astonishing follies like Racing For Change'. I'm sure that his publication will be as thoughtful and thought-provoking as ever.

And, by the way, I'd like to thank you collectively for forebearing from pointing out my deliberate mistake of referring to 'A couple more years' as one of Dennis Locorriere's newer songs; it was, of course, first released by Dr. Hook in 1976.


problemwalrus said...

Probably the best Hennessey in recent memory today with winners of the Gold cup, Irish National,Racing post chase, WElsh national plus some younger prospects lining up together.
Such anticipation!
Is it too much to dream that Denman can make it a third victory.Lets hope they all retiurn safely whatever the result.

Nathan said...

Another great photograph John. With your obvious love of photography you should put some prints up for sale via your website. I'd love to own a nice blown up photo of your string on the heath at daybreak or such like. Perhaps even signed by the trainer himself. Maybe you could do a deal with Tindalls...

John Berry said...

Thank you, Nathan. That ought to be feasible to get a good-sized photo of the string to you. Emma has taken some really nice ones over the years. Please could you send me your postal details.