David Green

David Green (Books) is the imprint under which I publish booklets of my own poems, when there are sufficient of them. Apart from that, the website has become what it is. I hope you find at least some of it worthwhile.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Denise Bennett - Parachute Silk

Denise Bennett, Parachute Silk (Overstep Books)

Parachute Silk was launched to great effect at the Square Tower, Old Portsmouth on Sunday evening with a reading by Denise and music from The Polite Mechanicals. Denise gave a moving and personal introduction to her poems and the music was a versatile and entertaining mixture of politics and humour enjoyed by many of the great and good of the local poetry community as well as me.
Wilfred Owen said that 'the poetry is in the pity' but if he hadn't then I'm sure Denise Bennett could have. The poems in this book fall into three broad categories- poems about the Foundling Hospital, on themes taken from Portsmouth Dockyard and those about her mother, Ada, who died last year aged 102. All of them depend on deep sympathy, and empathy, that informs a tenderness and humanity but that is built upon a brave, unflinching attitude that firstly chooses the right word and then explains with great clarity. It is never difficult poetry but it is often on difficult subjects. She isn't afraid to look directly and honestly into emotional trauma, undeflected by irony or shifting meanings, but the result is a powerful sense of compassion where there might not always be any prospect of redemption.
That doesn't mean there is no linguistic 'play' going on. In Hovercraft Accident,
the upturned hovercraft caught
in a wall of white water -
the breaking news.

And the delivery of the message of the loss of Ada's husband in the war is presented with immense understatement in a poem about how she would get things back to normal for his return except,
the telegram boy
leaned his bike against the gate.

Both the dockyard poems and those about the Foundling hospital are records of lives long forgotten but discovered in pieces of research. The opening poem, The Foundling Hospital, records how babies left there were identified by scraps of fabric which mothers, if and when able, could reclaim their offspring by matching their part of the fabric to the piece kept in the hospital records,
On leaving her son, one mother
cut his shirt clean in half,
wanted no mistake when retrieving him.
Another deposited one tiny sleeve.
Each left, clutching her grief. 

The title poem gains from its quiet control, about wedding dresses made from recycled parachutes,
sensuous as spindrift,

its language as delicate and careful as the luminously graceful story it tells.
But perhaps the most powerful poem is Some Days, an account of Ada's physical and mental disintegration. There is nothing sentimental about the frank, uncompromising account of how such a long life can come to its end. It is plainly recounted in poetry that hardly needs to strive for effect, and doesn't, because telling it as it is does the job better without such distractions.
The whole collection is utterly coherent, consistent and profoundly human. One might ask for some light relief, but that is implied and available in the memories evoked and any sudden outbreak of frivolity would be out of place in a volume that is sombre but quite delicately and sensitively so. It can only add to Denise's already well-established reputation, not only locally but far beyond.
My collection of Signed Poetry Books has not been added to much recently so I'm glad to have this one. It was happily one of those times when the author didn't have to ask who to sign it to.








Monday, 27 April 2015

Caitriona O'Reilly - Geis

Caitriona O'Reilly, Geis (Bloodaxe)

Itztlacoliuhqui-Ixquimilli,

is not a line of poetry I was expecting to read any time soon but here it is, in a poem called Comparative Mythology. Readers of the poem will also be well-advised to come with a knowledge of Chalchiuhtecolotl, too, and elsewhere in this book, one is at an advantage if words like integument, oedemic and exuviae are ones you don't need to look up.
There is some rare erudition, sometimes on a level well beyond my own humdrum capacity, but it isn't as off-putting as you might think. If I were one of those who likes to have prescriptive rules about what poetry should be and what it shouldn't, Caitriona O'Reilly would break several of them but, happily, my only rule is to have none. And so it's fine.
Yes, this has been a long awaited book, by me certainly. I was a big fan of the first two volumes and had wondered from time to time when another was due. But I'd much rather wait for a good one than take quick delivery of anything less. However, I did have to look over the book to make sure this was the author of The Sea Cabinet and The Nowhere Birds because the picture of the poet is hardly recognizable from the picture used on those first two books. The previous haunted, raw Caitriona has been replaced by one with an executive consultant's makeover. That doesn't matter at all, it's the poems that are of interest, but perhaps that difference is a corollary of these poems being slightly less other-worldly, savage and uncomfortable than the earlier work.
Ovum is a beginning, a calm, deliberate exploration of phonetics and associations. It perhaps suggests an approach to semantics through sound, the pure word and abstraction but it is nothing if not sensual and concentrated on the real. The division between signifier and signified doesn't seem quite so final when put in these terms.
Whereas, in the three poems in Island, the meagre detritus of self, the awareness of the other, is a real division, as,
                                    I saw 
her in the shards of your face,
as though she'd shattered her mirror
and left the pieces there to glitter.

I only suggested these poems might bit a bit less savage, I didn't say they were cosy.

Snow generates its own hush, quite possibly by its predominant use of monosyllabic words somewhat at odds with some of the more adventurous lexicographical adventures in other places. The pace quickens by a beat when three-syllable words are allowed in but it is a powerfully gentle piece that shows without telling, becomes its meaning and achieves all it seems to want to by doing so.
The Servant Question could be a period-piece costume drama, a familiar enough story of a life in service (my work all about me) and thoughts of release from it.  It is, inevitably political, being about class, gender, self, identity, religion and any number of such social issues but it goes far beyond those things in its expert drawing of them, and I don't want to quote just a few lines for fear of diminishing how they fit with the others. It is immediately a great favourite in a book that will be read and re-read and not be consigned to the shelves for a long time yet.
For all the claustrophobia of life's constraints, An Idea of Iowa isn't necessarily offered as a dream of escape. Vast, open landscapes and limitless prairie, are a dream but a fearfully beautiful one, where nothing is,
even its hills are so much dust: loess, the millennial
accumulation of cracked flood-plains;   winds.

And that is not the only time we are left to consider 'nothing' because Comparative Mythology left us with
the vacuum in a globe that takes the strength of sixteen horses to part, somehow paradoxically
thus proving that nothing exists.

And sex destroys everything that desire has built up in Potlatch, where
       all that we hoarded we burn.

But perhaps marginal, overall preference among many fine poems in a massively impressive book is for The Airship Era, its flirtation with a new perspective and understanding leading only to catastrophe and a spectacular end in flames. But, in the meantime,
    up there everything looked different:
the borders absurd, the people in their witch-fearing villages as out-of-date 
as peasants in a medieval breviary.

One can admire poems or one can like them but the best are those where there is no question that you immediately do both. That happened with many of the poems in this book. It was well worth waiting for, I'll be glad if I see another one anywhere near as good this year and I won't mind waiting another nine years for the next one because the waiting will all seem worthwhile.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Poulenc - Elora Festival Singers

Poulenc, Mass in G major, etc., Elora Festival Singers/Noel Edison (Naxos)

It might sometimes be easy to think of C20th music as spiky, dissonant and often difficult. That would be to discount late Romantics like Rachmanninov, Sibelius and Elgar and any number of other composers who continued in the old tradition. Those bad boys who kicked up the most fuss demanded all the attention but Modernism is over 100 years old now and more and more it looks more like a vogue and a period in history than the way things must be done from now on. Poulenc and Szymanowski are two that come to mind who were surely doing more than continue in pre-Modernist ways but they both wrote music of sublime lushness at times.
The Mass, as well as the motets, on this new disc from the ever praiseworthy Naxos label, are more wandering, contemplative and bleak than the Stabat Mater. You might expect that of motets for the season of Lent. They are never quite allowed to relax and resolve themselves, forever moving to a dissonance of mild discomfort. I'm not sure how this Mass should be approached in balancing the opportunities to sing with some gusto and the chance to relish its delicate high lines. It shifts about more than one might want to make a coherent unity out of it. But perhaps that's the broken nature of 'modern' sensibility. However, credit where it is due, the Agnus Dei is the highlight, echoing the medieval from the spare vantage point of 1937.
The Motets for the Season of Christmas are thus more quietly devotional and less anxious. All of the pieces here would benefit from a church acoustic rather than a Sony CMT-S20B, I'm sure, but I don't have room to assemble the Elora Festival Singers here.
They make a fine sound in these not over-long compositions. They are not meant to be exciting, and aren't. It is meditative and serious, the Christmas set ending the disc with its most joyous mood, Gloria in excelsis deo, Alleluia, the least restrained but still only moving towards exuberance and, really, quite brief.
If one doesn't try these things, one never finds out. This disc is not always going to be the one to choose when Poulenc feels like the thing I want to listen to and that's betting without the Dialogues des Carmelites discs I haven't bought yet.
I've just accidentally put 10 times more than I intended on my four horses at Sandown tomorrow. If they all win, I can sit and click on CD's on Amazon for a whole evening, get my Ton Koopman Buxtehude Complete Works, a Bach Cantatas box-set, the Haydn String Quartets and everything else one really ought to have that I as yet don't. So the Poulenc opera will be on that list.

Later. Playing the disc a second time, I like it more. It has its way of capturing that weird mystery so beloved of religion, and perhaps Catholicism in particular. That will teach me not to review things first time out and well before the end of the first bottle of Roc de Chevaliers, Bordeaux Superieur 2012.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Charity Gig, Rifle Club

Charity Gig, The Rifle Club, Portsmouth, April 22

Just when it begins to look like you've been to your last pop concert and will never go to one ever again, you find yourself going to another one.
This one was organized by my friend, Alan's, daughter for a charity of some importance to the family. To me as well, because Charlotte was a very big mate of mine. I didn't necessarily expect to understand it, being by now old enough to be the grandfather of some of the college musicians performing, and even if I saw the future of rock'n'roll, how would I know.
But I need not have worried. That generation are very au fait with Facebook, Apps, gadgets and all kinds of things I've never heard of but one of the first things I did was explain to some college kids how to make a pool table work. It's amazing, isn't it. That was one of the first things I learnt at University.
And, similarly, a deep knowledge of the long history of pop music wasn't wasted in appreciating what went on. It was really quite traditional. Almost disappointingly- and certainly quite shockingly- several of the artists had haircuts not dissimilar from my dad's in the 1970's, the very last hairstyle one wanted then when, if one couldn't quite look like Marc Bolan or David Cassidy then looking as slovenly and ramshackle as one could would have to do. Well, I've faithfully stuck to those first principles and, now look, pop music is promoted in college (where once it was counter-culture and, where possible, outlawed) and the singers look like accountants. Where did it all go wrong.
None of that matters, of course, if the music is any good and all the acts were impressive. I was glad to witness the first ever public performance of Four Foxes (pictured - well done, lads), shoe-gazing but very competent, who did me the great honour of making me feel as if I wasn't so completely out of place by playing cover versions of two indie hits that I knew- the one about looking good on the dance floor but, most appositely, my big favourite Pumped Up Kicks. Those seem like very recent records to me but to them, they must be old standards. But it was probably their opener, which was probably called Enjoy Yourself, which I hope they wrote themselves, that was best. It came as some surprise quite how many cover versions there were on an evening when I would have thought one's own songwriting was the point of it all and that would be what one would want to do. But maybe they are wise and realize that something familiar that the audience will recognize will keep their attention. Not many care about yet more self expression if the alternative is a good time to be had by all.
The duo, Meerkat Junkies, were endearing, apparently taking something like Ed Sheeran as a reference point. For my generation, it was Dark Side of the Moon, Rumours or Thriller that was the album that most homes in the UK had a copy of. Apparently now, it's Ed, and you need to be any good to sell that many albums. But, of those, Thriller is the only one I have. Nevertheless, I could see what these boys were doing and they did it well. The Simple Truth was the obvious stand out song in their set.
I understand it was Jay Price on guitar in the Meerkats (and I do have to say that, after 60 or more years of pop music, there really don't seem to be any good names left to use, all of the band names on the night were awful) but then he turned up as drummer for Lyras Oxford and, I thought, was an even better drummer than he was guitarist. Reggae isn't as easy to play as it sounds and the version here of Valerie was closer to Blondie's idea of reggae than, say, that of the early Wailers but it worked well. It was a great tribute to the tremendous confidence of Jessica Davies (another picture), who organized the show, and her band, they they could step in for an act who failed to show up. The confidence of their generation is to be admired, and possibly the result of sympathetic educational strategies much different to the constant brow-beating, threats and detentions that were used to get us through Latin O level in 1976.
At some point in the proceedings, never wanting a mere pop concert to prevent him from taking the spotlight, Alan had his head shaved for charity. He's not an idiot. I'm sure he already knew how much that will save him on shampoo and gel for the next month or two. (He is an idiot, actually, but only when he wants to be. But that is more often that is sometimes required and is usually when I'm about so it's not his fault.)
Marmalade Moonshine- and, yes, I did say that this generation couldn't think of a band name to save their lives- proved that the spirit of Elvis Presley, rockabilly, and a fine old time will never go out of fashion. A song probably called Watching Me Watching You was one of the best ones in a very competent if not wildly ground-breaking set. I have a note here about a song called Save the Day which was impressive with its R.E.M. riff so I hope it was them that did that.
And, finally, with sadly some of the audience who had come to see their mates in bands that were on earlier having left (a bit rude, I thought, but maybe they had a lecture at 9 o'clock tomorrow), there was Capital Fuzz. I thought at first they were going to re-invent Led Zep II, but then it passed through something like Oasis to a cover version of Come Together. 
Now, look, lads, Lennon just did the song, had no need to apologize for the innuendo. If that could be let go in the 1960's, then, really, if in 2015, it is now considered worthy of a schoolboy smirk then we haven't come very far in the last 50 years, have we.
But Capital Fuzz delivered a rousing 500 Miles, had another impressive drummer, and absolutely hats off to a fine show by all the artists, the organizer and a nice venue.
Top marks to all the college kids, it is hardly their fault they weren't born when Family Affair by Sly & the Family Stone was in the charts. And many thanks to the other acts who put on a fine show for a good cause.
How very kind of the Davies family to invite me.
The Boys are Back in Town, as you can see.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Heretics

Heretics

Something still burns in the back of the mind.
Soldiers sleep the good sleep of the correct
in garrisons and wait there to be called.

Zwingli disputes the real presence of Christ
in bread and wine. If one gets that one wrong
you could be snapped on some machinery

devised by a yet more pragmatic wit.
The world adores the orthodox, or thinks
it does. The wind and rain comply with all

its rules and then, beyond, solemn planets
moving through somewhere ignorance is bliss
tilt at awkward, misunderstood angles.

Friday, 17 April 2015

View from the Boundary

Goodbye, A.P.

A wonderful excursion to Cheltenham yesterday included A.P. McCoy's last ride at the world's greatest sports venue. I hadn't been for 25 years but couldn't have hoped to return in better conditions. A relatively low-key, end of season meeting is the best time to go because one can get about easily and do exactly what you want to do rather than struggle for survival in a vast melee.
It is a spectacularly good place, not only for facilities, the quality of the sport and the very reasonable people there but, of course, mainly for the splendour of the setting. I reflected on how the regulars there can't be expected to understand how spoilt they are with their course, although Fontwell has its own more modest charms.
It might seem strange that McCoy's only ride of the day was a bay when he went out and a grey when he came back but closer inspection of the pictures reveals that the grey is Our Mick and Milan Bound, that A.P. is on, is obscured by those giving him a warm last round of applause.

I don't go racing much these days. It seems unnecessary to travel any distance to give money away when you can dispose of it easily enough now on the computer. But I did my homework well, with three winners and two seconds from six races so it was quite an achievement to not come out well ahead. It was a daft, last-minute loss of faith and a catastrophic change of plan that did for me.
Kingsmere was the subject of a quite audacious gamble, by my standards, at 7/1 and came round the outside, arrived at the last upsides and looking all over the winner and I felt a rare tingle as I thought I saw a wheelbarrow full of money coming my way. But he had flattered only to deceive.
Thus, with three favourites already having gone in, and the next being offered at 9/2 when I thought it would be 5/2, I defied all other available sense by changing the plan in the next, went in on the second favourite which pulled up after not very far and then watched the favourite win to land me a couple of small trebles, but only small change compared to what I might have had.
It does seem perverse to turn down a much better price than one wanted but it has a certain logic to it.
But a mighty fine time was still had by all three of us.

--

South 51

My appearances in print are about as rare as my appearances at readings these days but one of my two recent poems called Never is in South 51. Suddenly, when you realize how many others are going to read a poem, one can begin to wonder if it looks as good as it did when you wrote it and thought it worth keeping. It was with some dismay that I looked at it when the magazine arrived but, maybe not. My own poems look different to me at different times.
It's not as if it matters much. My place in English Literature isn't going to compare with the likes of Edmund Spenser, Lascelles Abercrombie or even John Hegley, so we hardly need worry. Not being widely-known and thus not being asked to do interviews is an immensely preferable situation to what A.P. McCoy (above) has been through in the last several weeks.
Sarah Williams provides a dark poem, Mark Gertler's Last Night June 1939, which is the one likely to stay in the memory longest in among the customary domestic thoughtfulness and worthy, mostly traditional work. But South does a good job as a community centre for poets, and is an open, democratic platform for those who care about their vocation and take great pleasure in it. There's nothing wrong with any of that.
One might have to take issue with the opinion piece, Erato's column, in which she questions the popularity of poetry readings. She prefers poems on the page, to contemplate in private, and, by all means nobody is going to prevent her from doing that. But the poem on the page is only half of the story because it is useful to hear a poem and always interesting to see the poet, and hear them read their own work, even if they're not particularly good at it.
Perhaps there aren't actually enough poetry readings although one must be careful what one wishes for because not all the poetry readings that there are are necessarily good ones.
However, I'm sure at least a part of the motive behind the article is to generate some discussion and so it will have served its purpose if it provokes some response.

Monday, 13 April 2015

View from the Boundary

A quite glorious walk last Thursday afternoon went round Thorney Island and ended at the Sussex Brewery. It seemed like a sea fret that gathered around us but by the next day it had been explained as more of that Sahara dust we get occasionally. But, once it cleared, it was midsummer without too much of the heat, which is fine. However much one's allegiance crosses over to long, dark winter nights, a clear summer's day without too much of the heat still has its glorious advantages.
The walk had all the things a good walk needs which are good company, nearby water and preferably a flat profile. A good pub at the end is, of course, a good idea. But Thursday also benefitted from an old church with picturesque cemetery, good weather and a dog. It would be unreasonable to even try to think of anything else it ought to have had.
--
A question on University Challenge recently was formed around a quote from the great Joseph Brodsky,

The only things which poetry and politics have in common are the letters P and O.    

and although I rarely learn much from quizzes, forgetting the correct answers almost as soon as I've heard them, I will remember that, and hope to use it. But if not, at least I've used it here. It's surely not for me to notice they both contain the letter T as well.
Many will not agree and many of them will be among those who use poetry, or, more likely, verse, as a vehicle for their politics. And I still have some sympathy for the Marxist idea that 'everything is political', which I take to mean if you're not political, you're not Marxist and thus wrong. But that looks very much the same emotional blackmail that some forms of Christianity like to use in saying that if you were Christian you'd be saved but if you're not then it is hell fire and eternal damnation for you.
You can see why people went to church regularly in olden days.
Larkin is still regarded as right wing, and why not, but I'm not sure how much evidence there is for that in his poetry. Tom Paulin's old accusation that At Grass was a lament for lost empire doesn't look so convincing in hindsight even if it must have looked like vital cultural analysis at the time.
I've often wondered how the short sentence,
Snow fell undated.

from An Arundel Tomb could possibly be political.
Oh, but, he has removed the snow from its dialectical period, the specific hardships inflicted by that snow on the proletariat in that time and place. By making it 'undated', Larkin has deliberately abnegated the political significance of that snow.
But, now we have not just anybody, but Brodsky, on our side if we ever want to point out that poetry is a different thing from politics. I've learnt something from University Challenge and it has confirmed my assumption that poetry is above and beyond politics, like the snow, or one would prefer it to be.



Saturday, 11 April 2015

Pas de Baisers Volés

I'm not convinced I've got this title right. It is intended to be No Stolen Kisses, or Not 'Stolen Kisses', after the Truffaut film but I might need advice from someone whose French idiom is better than my 38 year old A level.

Pas de Baisers Volés 

These would be scenes from one of those French films
where nothing much is said but we look down
deserted, shabby-genteel avenues.

Indoors the routine measures out the day
but stolen glances caught on camera
imply a narrative not happening

while mountains far away covered in snow
catch other sunlight in different time zones,
unvisited and the more beautiful

for that. But, no, we are not nouvelle vague
and we shall not be lovers. Whatever
would have happened instead is what will be.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Vuillaume Quartet / Maggi Hambling

Vuillaume Quartet, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, April 7th

Haydn is called 'the father of the symphony' but was equally heavily implicated in the parentage of the string quartet. It was born perfectly formed and after Beethoven had seemingly taken it to its limits, the composers of the later C19th were reluctant to continue with the genre. Only in the C20th did it come back into favour, newly liberated from its classical discipline, with composers able to make more personal statements through it.
Haydn's opening Vivace in the Op.54 no.2 is vibrant and celebrates its own musical ideas but the Vuillaume Quartet were at their best perhaps in the Adagio second movement and first part of the finale. Haydn is gorgeous in these and the young quartet relished the slow burn of his poignant phrasing. There is no devil in Haydn and even his sadness is luminous. Marta Kowalczy is lively and expressive on first violin and in the Haydn was very much the lead.
Debussy's  G minor Op. 10 gives more opportunity to the other parts where Daniel Rainey (violin), Claire Newton (viola), and Auriol Evans (cello) shared the themes and more prominent roles. Written in 1893, the piece sounds more modern than that, with its breaking of sylistic barriers, development of an individual manner and change of moods between intense drama and deep lyricism. It is a serious work - its uncertainty and gravity pre-empting the modernism that was to follow it and the quartet gave a compelling account, so much so that recordings of it will have to be looked at very shortly.
One day I feel I will have to express reservations about a young musician in a St. Martin's lunchtime concert but none that I ever see give me the slightest opportunity. This was a tremendous recital and one can only wish for and expect the best from them in the future. 


Maggi Hambling, War Requiem & Aftermath, Somerset House, until  31st  May.




















I was a little bit taken aback by this review of Maggi Hambling's Walls of Water in The Guardian  
www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/dec/03/maggi-hambling-jonathan-jones-national-gallery-london
Surely that's a heresy, or is it a critic making a name for himself. But it is a worry. Does he have a point. Does Maggi now do the same thing whether her subject is the sea, war or portraiture. Perhaps she isn't the latest thing and she sits uncomfortably between figurative painting and abstraction, allowing pictures to emerge from the passionate application of oil to canvas. I've had my preconceptions and assumptions compromised by contrarian commentators before and have to rehabilitate them myself.

This latest exhibition in Somerset House is in small spaces. Two sound and vision installations bring together firstly Britten's War Requiem and a generous selection of small canvasses, at least not as big as I expected, of ghastly apocalypse, disfigurement and horror, and then a Wall of Water accompanied by a soundtrack of gurgling, rushing sea water with human voices. Both are characteristically powerful, soulful and gripping.
Sadly, my favourite Battlefield (shown here) from the book wasn't on show unless there was a further door I should have opened and gone in. I should have asked, the staff were very helpful.
Those are, aren't they, stricken horses flailing in a dreadful, portentous scene of carnage. Or is it a torrential downpour with lost souls rising from the devastation.
There are numerous sculptures of driftwood trouvé, some of which might be a bull, rhinoceros or such things as the titles suggest, like reclining nude. They are chosen for their natural, evocative shape but have been given unnatural, but often glorious, colour.
But we need not worry about journalists with whatever reasons they have for making their little points. Being derivative is not a bad thing because there's not much that can't be said to be that. I might be among the first to volunteer to do without war art because after so much protest and opposition to it, there seems to be just as much of it about as there ever was. But these Maggi Hambling Battlefields are as striking and profoundly bleak as anything I've seen on the subject and so the theme is as essential as it ever was. I still just wonder why they weren't done on a much bigger scale.
We could manage very well without 'critics'. It is an oddly pejorative word, somehow suggesting that they are inevitably going to find fault. 'Commentator' would be an improvement. Then 'critic' could be saved for the job the Guardian man did. 
.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

View from the Boundary

One highlight of a successful sporting Easter was the Paul Nicholls/Sean Bowen double at Haydock which paid for everything. Oh, how rich I'd be if I bet exorbitantly rather than quite so modestly but I'm yet to be convinced that I want or need to be rich so it doesn't matter.
As a result of tipping Virak to my nephew, the balance in his William Hill account increased by 250% and so he was pleased but probably not as pleased as he should be with his bike racing debut on Good Friday, which was a much greater highlight, for which I was his self-appointed manager. It was that great early season Classic, the 4th Category Men's Circuit Race at Castle Combe, organized by Andy Cook Cycling.
It's not clear on what grounds I was qualified to manage anybody in a discipline that I never took part in and the fact that he recorded the equivalent of 56.42 for a 25 mile time trial is more than adequate to explain why I never rode in such an event. But there would be a future for him in it if he wanted because he held his place in the main group as, lap after lap, riders dropped off the back, unable to stay with the pace. It was only as it became even more competitive in the last couple of miles and the leading group fragmented that he couldn't get into the argument on the front end. We can put that down to a strategic error on the part of the manager who didn't insist he get a place on the front row at the start. That might have made a difference or might not but we will know next time. But, even with that oversight, I am already a more successful manager than I was a rider.
---
And, here's more consummate George Eliot from Daniel Deronda,

'Say what you have to say without apologizing, please,' said Gwendolen with the air she might have bestowed on a dog-stealer come to claim a reward for finding the dog he had stolen.

--

And The Observer's Grand National tipster so very nearly got it right today, nominating Rocky Creek as the winner with Unioniste in third. I've backed them both at slightly better prices than they are by now and it might be worth doing a small reverse forecast on the two coming first and second in either order on Saturday.