Category Archive 'Book'

05 Jan 2010

Baily’s Goes Electronic

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My oldest copy is the 1905-1906 8th edition

Queen Victoria was celebrating her Diamond Jubilee, Edmund Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac was playing to packed houses in Paris, and the adventurersome (including Jack London) were heading to the Klondike in search of gold in 1897, the year in which Baily’s Monthly Magazine of Sports and Pastimes, founded in 1860, began issuing its annual Directory of Hunting, listing organized fox hunts in Britain. The listings were later extended to beagles, bassets, otter and mink hounds, and its coverage made world-wide.

Charles Moore reported recently, in the Telegraph that, despite Labour’s tyrannical hunt ban, Baily’s is not only continuing publication, but is this year, for the first time, available on-line by electronic subscription.

Since the 19th century, the facts of hunting have been compiled annually by Baily’s Hunting Directory. Like Jane Austen’s Sir Walter Elliot in relation to the Baronetage, I find Baily’s my “occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one”. Between its red covers is contained a mass of information about almost every known and recognised pack of hounds in the world. According to the count for 2009, there are now 761 of them. You learn something new, interesting and satisfyingly obscure every time you read it. You also feel a thrill because of the adversity which hunting has so successfully resisted. As Lt Gen Barney White-Spunner says in his spirited introduction to the latest edition, the loss of liberty always “stirs something deep in the British soul”.

I mention the red covers, but in fact the cover turned black in recent editions, in mourning at the ban. This year, for the first time, Baily’s goes online . The publishers say that they still want to produce the book version as well – and I hope they succeed – but a web version undoubtedly offers certain advantages over a book. One is that new photographs can be posted at any time, so the site already carries first-class pictures of the current season. Another is that any subscriber (annual price £12) can contribute his own report of his hunt.

I have happily subscribed.

The print version costs £44.95/US$107 and may be ordered here.

21 Sep 2009

Political Gossip

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Ryan Grim, at HuffPO, spills (a day before the book’s release) some of the interesting bits from Bush Administration’s speechwriter Matthew Latimer’s new tell-all Speech-less: Tales of a White House Survivor.

While Karl Rove was appearing on Fox News and writing op-eds as an independent political analyst, he was privately smearing Democrats. “Karl spread rumors through the White House that one of Obama’s potential vice presidential running mates — and a United States senator — had beaten his first wife. ‘Karl says it’s true,’ the president assured a small group of staffers. Then knowing Karl, he quickly added, ‘Karl hopes it’s true,'” reports Latimer.

For a commencement address at Furman University in spring 2008, Ed Gillespie wanted to insert a few lines condemning gay marriage. Bush called the speech too “condemnatory” and said, “I’m not going to tell some gay kid in the audience that he can’t get married.” (Of course, Bush ran his 2004 campaign telling that kid just that.)

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “adamantly opposed” any reference to jailed Egyptian dissident Ayman Nour when Bush traveled to Egypt to promote freedom. She won.

Bush, it turns out, is like millions of Americans: “I haven’t watched the nightly news one night since I’ve been president,” he said.

Laura Bush, says Latimer, “was secretly a Democrat for all intents and purposes, though it really wasn’t much of a secret.” …

Bush on Jimmy Carter: “If I’m ever eighty-two years old and acting like that have someone put me away.”


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