January 2011

After a splendid write-up in our local Bisley News, interviews kicked off in late summer when the sublime Caitlin Moran from The Times came down to Gloucestershire for lunch. I hadn’t been awfully well and on no dinner the night before and no breakfast, proceeded to share two bottles of champagne and shamingly get absolutely legless. Caitlin is so attractive, bright and buzzy, we spent hours exchanging scurrilous stories, which tragically I‘d forgotten next morning.

After lunch, because our house is geographically near the house where my on-going hero, Rupert Campbell-Black, lives, I took Caitlin on a tour, finally staggering across the lawn, one step forward two sideways to inspect the ancient tennis court where Rupert plays nude tennis in Rivals.

It was a great treat that when The Times photographer came down later, to illustrate Caitlin’s piece, he was accompanied by the magazine art editor, Graham Wood, an old friend who, back in 1979, despite being petrified of dogs and wearing thigh-boots throughout, took marvellous pictures for a book I wrote on mongrels called Intelligent and Loyal.

An amazing amount of people seemed to read Caitlin’s hilarious subsequent piece. Even more seemed to read the wonderful interview in the Daily Telegraph by Elizabeth Grice who is as attractively elegant as her prose. Her piece was accompanied by heavenly pictures by Heathcliff O’Malley of me and William, my son and daughter-in-law’s dog. Throughout the publicity campaign it has to be confessed Willie got into most of the pictures.

Since being caught in flagrante humping the presenter’s Labrador on the One Show, William has got a taste for fame, and shoves my gentle greyhound, Feather, out of the way whenever he sees a camera.

JUMP! also took four years to write because I spent so much time enjoying the miraculous hospitality provided by the National Hunt fraternity while I was researching the book. Unlike the show jumping press who were pretty snooty. When I was writing Riders, the racing press were particularly helpful and welcoming.

I was so lucky the Racing Post got behind the book, promoting it and devoting two pages to a fantastic interview with Brough Scott, who writes like an angel and whose enthusiasm gave JUMP! authenticity in the racing world.

Brough’s piece was also accompanied by stunning photographs by Ed Whittaker, son of my old friend and royal correspondent, James Whittaker. Once again William was so desperate to get in the pictures, that when he noticed me being photographed chatting to a horse, he leaned heavily against Ed – pushing him over.

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