.My days do not work to a set pattern. Today I am sat behind my desk at 5.30 in the morning. At 8.30 or 8.45 depending on my mood I will leave the house for a few hours of paid labour. On other occasions I will leave the house at 4.00 am and not return until mid-day or later. This sacrifice I undertake willingly.
My adherence to the ethic of paid labour though naturally in-born is also vigorously enforced by my other, some would say better, half who is not slow in her condemnation of my lack of ambition for the comfort great or even moderately sized wealth can bring.
Though my mornings vary from one day to the next, the constant is that the Racing Post accompanies my breakfast, brunch or lunch. Indeed, especially through October to April, my expectations of the day are diminished if for any reason I am denied my Racing Post.
The Racing Post, a newspaper I haven’t truly been able to afford for the past ten years, is my one luxury/necessity of life. Alastair Down, Tom Kerr, Steve Dennis, Lee Mottershead, and others, are the pin-up superstars of the craft of journalism who I worship and admire. If they were not all men I would have their photographs on the wall. Though not so visitors or burglars might see them. The working-class, if not the middle-class, should always adhere to standards.
So you can imagine my disappointment when I stumbled upon the website Glassdoor to discover not everyone who works for the Racing Post are happy. Indeed some are extremely disgruntled. Some have left their employment at Canary Wharf to enter holy retreats in an effort to get over the trauma of having wasted so much of their working lives under the thumb of an incompetent and verging on cruel management. The C.E.O. and editor was even singled out for his marionette tendencies. One ex-employee advised people thinking of working at the Racing Post to move to another country so as not to be tempted to work there. The I.E. department, apparently, is the equivalent of a Morris Minor, whereas other papers have computer people with the verve and drive of a Maserati.
To report such ‘heresies’ gives me no pleasure. Nor does the fact that the paper is millions of pounds in debt and when last reported was about to be sold to a corporation that might asset-strip and force up the cover price to where I cannot hope to follow. It is nearly mid-March, the time of coincidence when the price of newsprint forces the Post to put up its price. At this time of year my fingers are permanently crossed.
To think that Down, Kerr, Dennis and co must compose their works of art amongst the fall-out of rising corporate debt, disenchanted co-workers, an editor with the management skills of Donald trump, a H.R. department that suckers up to higher management but denies the workers at the coal face toilet-breaks or a standard time to go home to their loved-ones. It just makes their brilliant achievements even more remarkable. I just hope they don’t all go mad like Paul Haigh who left in a huff after 23 years’ service. Where is he now? Still at a holy retreat, perhaps?
At least I now have an explanation why the editor never answers my e-mails or letters. I always thought it was because he was overworked or was denied a secretary. My innate optimism and naïve wish for unwanted news to be untrue determines that I disbelieve the comments on Glassdoor and that the Racing Post is heaven on Earth for its employees and that the editor is a sweetie and the methods of the Human Resources department are simply misunderstood.
The Racing Post is too important to my daily welfare to have hanging over me the thought of its demise. That is too awful to contemplate. And that those employed there, who I have always considered ‘the lucky ones’, are well-paid and treated with a big dollop of T.L.C. and not whipped to contrition by Victorian overlords drunk with power. Even if annually I call them all a load of greedy bastards when the copy price goes up by ten pence every Cheltenham Festival!
Long live the Racing Post!
Keith Knight is a workaday writer of fiction, worker in the real world but foremost a horse racing fanatic. The joy of the sport is the horse - all horses.