Dick Francis – a tribute

15/02/2010

The paperback had lost its front cover and the blurb on the back mentioned racing.

That almost put me off, but I was stuck in a cottage in rural Kent. Rain had stopped hop picking for the day, it was too wet to walk into the nearest village and there was nothing else to read.

The book was Flying Finish by Dick Francis and within a few paragraphs I was hooked.

I sought out his other books and have now read everything he’s written.

He was a champion jockey who went into journalism when he retired from the race track. That didn’t pay well, his wife suggested he write a novel and that was the start of his career as a thriller writer.

Horses and racing feature in all his books but his heroes usually have other strings to their bows. Through Dick Francis I learned more about photography, flying, the jewellery business and wine than I’d otherwise have thought I’d want to know. 

The meticulous detail which made his characters and their lives so real and believable was one of the factors which made his books so good.

He had an old-fashioned attitude to women, but  most of his books featured a strong woman and his heroes always treated them  with respect. They were also honest and upright and one of the themes in all his books was the triumph of good against evil.

His late wife, Mary did a lot of his research and some suggest she played a bigger role in the writing too. His last four books were co-authored with his son Francis.

Dick Francis’s website is here.

The Times’ obituary is here.

The Telegraph’s obituary is here.

The Guardian’s obituary is here.

Keeping Stock also pays tribute.

Update: Kismet Farma has posted her tribute too.


January 8 in history

08/01/2010

On January 8:

1297  Monaco gained its independence.

 

 

 

 

1734  Premiere of George Frideric Handel’s Ariodante at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

1746 Second Jacobite Rising: Bonnie Prince Charlie occupied Stirling.

1790 George Washington delivered the first State of the Union Address in New York City.

 George Washington’s handwritten notes for the first State of the Union Address.

1835  The United States national debt was 0 for the only time.

The US Federal Debt from 1800 to 1999

1838 – Alfred Vail demonstrates a telegraph system using dots and dashes ( the forerunner of Morse code).

1862 Frank Nelson Doubleday, American publishe, was born.

 

1863 Geologist Julius von Haast led an exploratory expedition in search of a route from the east to the west coasts of the South Island.

Haast begins West Coast expedition

1867 African American men were granted the right to vote in Washington, D.C.

1867  Emily Greene Balch, American writer and pacifist, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was born.

 

1877 Crazy Horse  and his warriors fought their last battle with the United States Cavalry at Wolf Mountain (Montana Territory).

Crazy Horse and his band of Oglala on their way from Camp Sheridan to surrender to General Crook at Red Cloud Agency, Sunday, May 6, 1877 / Berghavy ; from sketches by Mr. Hottes.
1900  Dame Merlyn Myer, Australian philanthropist, was born.
1908 William Hartnell, British actor, was born.
1911 Gypsy Rose Lee, American actress and entertainer, was born.
1912 The African National Congress was founded.
ANC logo
1926  Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud becomes the King of Hejaz and renames it Saudi Arabia.
IbnSaud.jpg
1926 Soupy Sales, American comedian, was born.
6.8.08SoupySalesByLuigiNovi.jpg
1935 Elvis Presley, American singer, was born.
1937  Dame Shirley Bassey, Welsh singer, was born.
1941  Graham Chapman, British comedian, was born.
 Flyingcircus 2.jpg

 

 The Python team in 1969
Back row: Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam.
Front row: Terry Jones, John Cleese, Michael Palin

1946  Robby Krieger, American musician (The Doors), was born.

1947  David Bowie, English musician, was born.

1959Fidel Castro‘s Cuban Revolution was completed with the take over of Santiago de Cuba.

1959 Paul Hester, Australian drummer (Crowded House), was born.

1962 – The Harmelen train disaster killed 93 people in The Netherlands.

1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “War on Poverty” in the United States.

1973 – Soviet space mission Luna 21 was launched.

File:Lunakod landing bus-Luna17.jpg

  • 1973 – Watergate scandal: The trial of seven men accused of illegal entry into Democratic Party headquarters at Watergate begins.
  • 1975  Ella Grasso becomes Governor of Connecticut, becoming the first woman to serve as a Governor in the United States other than by succeeding her husband.

    1994  Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov on Soyuz TM-18 left for the space station  Mir. He stayed on the space station until March 22, 1995, for a record 437 days in space.

    Valeri Polyakov.jpg

    2004 The RMS Queen Mary 2, the largest passenger ship ever built, was christened by her namesake’s granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.

    Queen Mary II Einlaufen Hamburg Hafengeburtstag 2006 -2.jpg

    Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


    Revenge a dish best served breaded

    17/09/2009

    Popular widsom suggests revenge is a dish best served cold, but English chef Keith Floyd served his breaded.

    A Telegraph obituary recounts:

    On one occasion he gleefully recalled serving a serially ungrateful diner a carefully cooked beer mat disguised as a breaded escalope of veal. The man ate it without comment but criticised the topping on his crème brûlée.

    I’ve had the odd steak which tasted like leather and some takeaways seem to have the consistency and nutritional value of the cardboard they’re served in;  but I haven’t knowingly partaken of a beer mat, breaded or otherwise.

    UPDATE: Liberty Scott has more on Floyd.


    No Problem With Inflation?

    04/07/2008

    In the wake of what might be a decision by Labour  to loosen the reins on inflation it is instructive to look at the Telegraph’s  report on what’s happening in Zimbabwe.

    The highest value banknote is worth Z$50 billion – which is presently enough to buy one can of baked beans. At the TM supermarket in Harare’s northern suburb of Borrowdale, many shelves were bare yesterday. But a kilogramme of mince cost Z$490 billion and a kilogramme of sausage was going for Z$170 billion. A litre of imported orange juice cost an eye-watering Z$303 billion.

    Some prices have trebled from a week ago, when toilet paper worked out at just under Z$22 million for a single sheet. There was none in the supermarket yesterday, but by now there is probably an alternative use for the Z$50 million note.

    It is only 20 years ago that New Zealand had inflation above 20% . I remember only too well the individuals and businesses which were casulaties of it; and the difficulties associated with bringing it down again.

    No-one is suggesting we would be in danger of ending up like Zimbabwe if inflation was allowed to increase a bit, but the only winners from even a small increase will be speculators. 

    Hat tip: Tumeke!


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