Last year was a challenging one personally, exacerbated by the usual trivial things of London life including not taking enough sensible rest. However some things correctly underline how truly insignificant my individual set backs indeed are. One such thing has been recently finding out about David Ashforth‘s battle with inoperable cancer, and the distinctive and wry way in which he has written about such a serious subject is very characteristic of the man’s calibre.
A while back I made the decision to give up on buying a newspaper, finding the endless focus on the “recession” draining, The printed news I read is/was confined to the Racing Post and an Evening Standard if I am lucky enough to find one on the tube seat.Having somewhat of a hoarding gene, I tend to stock pile the Racing Posts and read the interviews before discarding them. Suffering/benefiting from a house proud wife I try not to let the pile get too big, and when it does I don’t buy a Racing Post for a couple of days until the reading list is conquered.
In one of these interludes I missed any mention of David Ashforth’s illness as I only read one of his annual “grab a Grand” columns that I have got used to enjoying every December. Looking on google I see that David wrote on the subject at the end of 2010 in the Racing Post. at that time I was away from racing and embroiled in work and totally missed out on the news.
I only found out about it when someone in racing tweeting that David had joined twitter, his first tweet as @DavidJAshforth was on the 7th and encapsulates his personality:
Cancer coming along nicely. Oncologist looked so glum I thought he was going to tell me he was dying, then he told me I was, but not today.
Twitter seems to be the medium that breaks things to me now, last year I learned about Amy Winehouse’s tragic death from a racing connection tweeting about it (an individual who several years before booked her to sing at Epsom I recall). Last summer I followed the London riots on twitter, as well as out of my then flat’s window, and now I will remember hearing the sad news concerning Mr Ashforth.
David Ashforth has always entertained with his annual Grab a grand, and other inimitable self depreciating and lucid writings. Like the great man I too share a passion for the little chalky low grade track that is Brighton, as well as Graham Greene’s novel in whose honour David Ashforth sponsors an annual race.
In the Winter 2010 Racing Post Article David wrote:
I’m thinking of asking Sporting Index for a quote on life expectancy. Personally, I’d pitch it at about 32-35 months, although maybe that’s my fatalistic pessimism.
Like everyone else in racing I hope that buyers will be massively rewarded and send a prayer and well wishes to Mr Ashforth.