Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Full steam ahead on the midwinter road to nowhere

Oh dear: two weeks between posts.  Where does the time go?  I generally find that time just goes at any time, but in the pre-Christmas period it  just goes even more so.  And that's even despite our having hardly any runners, as has been the case this year.  One runner (White Valiant, 1st at Huntingdon) in total in November.  One runner so far (Kilim, 0th at Wolverhampton) in December, hopefully to rise to two (Delatite, ???th at Huntingdon on Boxing Day) by the end of the month.  (And then I hope that we might have four in January.  White Valiant, Cheltenham, 1st January; Kilim, Wolverhampton, 20th January; Hymn For The Dudes, somewhere, late January; So Much Water, Kempton, late January).  But the time just goes anyway.

It's hardly surprising, really.  Everyone seems to be busy in the pre-Christmas period, even if that only means being busy shopping.  I did my bit today, 21st December, by writing and posting 20 Christmas cards.  I tend only to send Christmas cards to people whom I've hardly had any contact with over the past 12 months but am keen not to lose contact with altogether, rather than following the usual policy of sending Christmas cards (or handing them over personally, which doesn't make much sense really: just say, "Happy Christmas" if one is face to face with the recipient) to everyone one has ever met or has ever wished to meet.   And if I am in contact with them anyway - well, I'll just wish them even more well than usual.

And this is the time of year for staff taking time off, both because it's Christmas and because we are out of season.  Three people work here, aside from me: Jana Trnakova, Abbie Bunten and Dominika Valkova.  Basically through December it's turned out that we've had at least one person off at any time.  Jana has been away.  Dominika is currently away for two weeks, set to return to work on December 28th.  And I'd imagine that Abbie will be spending the period from before Christmas until after New Year with her family, although I suspect that she might want to come in on New Year's Day to see if she can maintain her 100% success rate of leading White Valiant into the winner's enclosure.

So that's that really: it's supposedly the quiet time of year, but we're still bloody flat out.  Or I am, anyway.

Looking back at the last chapter, I see that we had a couple of bits of feedback, thank you.  I'm glad that you enjoyed reading the chapter, Greg.  And, Neil, I didn't read Kevin's blog on the Best issue, but maybe I should have done as I was on the Sunday Forum on ATR on Sunday, a Forum which was obviously dominated by the Best (worst) debacle.  I'd like to think that we (ie Matt Chapman, Charlie Poste, Jim McGrath and myself) managed to tread the fine line satisfactorily, ie not being too mealy-mouthed but also not saying anything slanderous or unnecessarily offensive.

One could have argued that I ought not to have been saying anything in criticism of a fellow trainer, but hopefully that wasn't a problem, particularly as Graham McPherson seems happy enough to lead the prosecution of his fellow trainers (including those whom, it turns out, are innocent) without anyone (apart from me, or our colleagues unfortunate enough to find themselves being persecuted by him) finding anything odd or distasteful about it.  So I hope that the Sunday Forum went well, and happily any feedback which I have had subsequently has been positive, which is a relief as there was obviously scope for the other kind if we had (I had) got things wrong.

The other main topic on the Forum was the death of Walter Swinburn, which perfectly topped off a maudlin week for me, a week in which I had attended two memorial services (for Carol Whitwood and for Jon Daly) including one at which I had delivered the eulogy (ie Carol's).  It was easy enough to think of nice things to say about Carol, but harder to say them without faltering too much; but I'd like to think that I did our dear and sorely missed friend justice.  I hope so, anyway.  2016 has been what one might call an interesting year (along the lines of the old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times") so I hope that, with only 10 days remaining, we have by now already exhausted our quota of bad news.  One wouldn't count on it, but.

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