Living Space: Big Ron: Patti Smith: More Snow

Thursday 24th January.

Last week I  suggested future trends in living; meant dwelling  in small city apartments; downsizing material and maximising space; whilst enjoying high insulation and energy efficiency.

Here's a video, courtesy of "treehugger " showing how this was achieved in New York.

Living Space

A remarkable design.


Friday 25th January

Ron Barry was always one of my favourite jockeys. He rode in the 70s with elan and verve. He was based in the north at Greystoke, near Penrith, riding for trainer Gordon W. Richards.

That combination brought me many winners; including; The Scottish Grand National with ' Playlord' (1969) carrying 12stones and ten years later,  winning the Cheltenham Mackeson Gold Cup on the grey ' Man Alive.' Both at a good price of 10/1.

In the season of 1973 - 4,  he was Champion Jockey with a record (then) of 125 winners, many of them upon northern tracks, which had a reputation for losing meetings due to inclement conditions.  Thus, under those circumstances a very good total indeed.

In those days National Hunt racing had a proper seasonal shape to it; with a start date at the end of August ( Newton Abbott) and a finish at the end of April with the Whitbread Gold Cup meeting, held at Sandown Park. There was no summer  NH racing during the months of May,  June, July and August, as there is now.
Indeed there is no break at all and although the season finishes at Sandown as before; the new season starts the next day at Market Rasen.  It is not surprising, therefore that winning totals have risen since Barry's record. So much so that in '02- '03 reigning champion jockey Tony McCoy managed an amazing 258 winners in a season. Since then he has yearly reached totals close or past the magic 200 mark.

But back to 'Big' Ron Barry. The main reason why he achieved hero status in my eyes, was the ride he gave my favourite horse of all time ' The Dikler " in the 1973 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The Dikler

That old chestnut horse always loved that Cheltenham hill. Big Ron conjured up a great run by the stands rail to snatch the race at the death. Legend has it that,  so great was the noise that greeted Pendil as he jumped the last fence in the lead that the horse flapped his ears and slowed down a fraction under such adulation.
Me? I think that's just sour grapes. The Dikler won with a power finish and fully deserved the Cup.

As for Ron; well so great was his winning celebration that the next day riding in the opening hurdle race at Wolverhampton; as he approached the first hurdle,  he found he was suffering from 'double vision.' Wisely he closed his eyes and let the horse carry him over the obstacle. He managed to finish the race and then stood down for the rest of meeting. They don't make them like that anymore.

Ron Barry, I salute you sir and thank you for all the great racing memories you gave me.


In the month of January my American 'Twitter' book club ( 1book140 ) selected as their reading choice 
"Just Kids " by the part rock star, part poet, and part artist Patti Smith.

 The book, set in New York,  tells the true story of Patti's life with the photographer and artist, the late Robert Mapplethorpe  ( 1946- 1989. )  They met in the late 60s;  when 'Flower Power ' was at its height and in '69 stayed for a time at the Chelsea Hotel. A famous location for artists, including such notables as Dylan Thomas; William Burroughs; Allen Ginsberg; Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Andy Warhole.
Apparently, in certain circumstances , it was possible to barter artwork in lieu of rent.

Patti Smith went on to pioneer punk music from a feminine perspective. Her album "Horses" is often cited as being one of the 100 best rock records.
The iconic cover was  shot by Robert Mapplethorpe.

I found the book an inspiring read and reminded me of the time in the late 60s and early 70's when as the song said " There was something in the air; " a feeling of peace and human harmony and music potent enough to change the world.
 Didn't last long-- oh well.

Having read the book and checked the Patti Smith record catalogue; I managed to obtain from the library, her little book of poems/childhood memories entitled " Woolgathering. "

I like the way Patti perceives the mind of  children engaging in their own ' world-space ' with simple objects taking on a life of their own.

As we grow  reality soon impinges upon our lives; creativity fades and imagination begins to wither.
We try to rekindle this creative spark, which we once all owned as children.

Here is a sample from "Woolgathering. "

" When young, overcome with a sense of being from somewhere else, we peer, we probe
 inside and pull out alien, indian. We come upon an open plain. A plain of gold. Or come, most often, upon a cloud, a race of cloud dwellers. These are our young thoughts.

Eventually we work it out. We recognise, in ourselves, our mother's hand, our father's limb. But the mind, that is something else again. Of this one can never be sure. "

Powerful imagery, I hope you agree.


I hope this will be my last snow picture for some time. Bring on the rising temperatures and the heat.
But I suppose I should remind you that the  snowest place in the country was ........ yes Little Rissington, in dear old Gloucestershire.
Here's the proof


Well, as always, stay warm , continue to fall upwards and take care.


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