My rage gets the better of me at times, and as the Bugatti careens across the South Circular, attracting the attention of what transpires to be an unmarked police car, my temper twitches and churns. My two fingered response to their frantic hand signals prompts the attachment of a blue light to the top of the saloon, my foot slamming down hard on the throttle, a siren, and the expulsion of a foul cloak of oily smoke from the Bugatti’s exhaust chamber, followed by a slow deceleration to a dead stop at the side of the road.
I wrench the goggles from my head and hurl them to the ground. My attempts to vent my spleen by stamping viciously upon the twisted frames are interpreted by Kent’s finest as an attempt to destroy vital evidence and I quickly find myself clamped in a head lock by a burly constable, swinging wildly, my fists failing to connect until we collapse in a heap on the tarmac.
“Not thinking of going anywhere this afternoon, I hope sir?”
The sledgehammer wit grates on my already tenderized sensibilities like a coarse grained sandpaper, I glare at the sergeant, who, oblivious to my plight, extracts a tattered notebook from his breast pocket and begins turning the pages with all the speed and deliberation of an orangutan examining its miserable hide for lice. Occasionally licking his finger for traction, he continues this infuriating task for several minutes until, an empty page finally being located, he begins rummaging in his pockets for a pen. I watch this farrago with dismay, the minutes are ticking away and my chances of repairing the Bugatti and rejoining the race seem to be receding into the distance along with the competition.
“Now sir, you would appear to have a malfunctioning tail light” The Bugatti had no tail light that I was aware of and my mouth hangs open in astonishment at the buffoon’s next words..
“A vintage model like this, shouldn’t be left unattended in this particular postcode sir – I’ll send the tow truck down…address?”
“Brighton!” I shout, I could kiss the man, instead, I give him an address just around the corner from the finishing line and administration being complete, gratefully accept his offer of a lift to the nearest station.
Ensconced in first class, a bottle of Krug to the good, my mood is considerably improved by the attendance of a winsome beauty disguised as a waitress by the name of Victoria. The Krug and her cheerful mangling of the queen’s celebrated english warming the cockles of my heart. As the train speeds through the countryside. I can see the racers bent double over the wheel, scarves trailing behind, faces pulled into a ghastly rictus by the wind. With savage glee, I pull down the window and hurl the empty bottle at the cream and tan Porsche driven by Count Luciano La Ronde, the resulting swerve creating a tidal wave of chaos that entangles the traffic all the way back to London within minutes.
Yawning, I click my fingers airily at my glorious Victoria and demand a second bottle, Bollinger, chilled this time and snappy. She extracts the gum from her mouth and presses it firmly into my eye before swaying seductively up the aisle. “Little minx!” I murmur appreciatively, removing the gum and admiring the delectable sway of her hips as the train clatters through the outskirts of Brighton.
As I sprint from the train as quickly as the bottle of lukewarm fizz will allow, I trip and fall heavily into an outfit from the shires, carefully unloading a bath chair from the train. Barging them aside, I seize the chair and use it like a scooter, sailing through the entrance hall with an airy doff of the cap and out into the cobbled street. To my horror I find myself hurtling at breakneck speed down the hill towards the finishing line, a large crowd flanking the road, hurling their caps in the air at my sudden appearance.
I’m determined to make the best of what is clearly developing into a very bad day indeed and so with no further ado and for reasons that are mysterious at best, I elect to perform acrobatics on the chair; poised on one foot, the other extended backwards, leather coat tails streaming in the draught I place one hand over my eyes to shade from the glare of the sea and to the great amusement of the crowd sail majestically through the tape and onto the pier. The end is as sudden as the water is cold. As I clamber out of the sea, mustaches detumescant and spirits dampened, I am greeted by my erstwhile ally the Sergeant.
“Assault with a deadly weapon, taking and driving away of a Bath Chair, driving the aforementioned Bath Chair at speeds exceeding those laid down by the municipal council as safe limits for the…”
“Shoot me now” I interrupt. My life is in ruins, Broke, a busted flush. I think of poor Hattie, her coy smile and marvelous meringues, of the estimable Bog Mahoney, who, I have no doubt, is even now shouldering his way through the crowd with terrible intent, of the twins trained to kill and of aunt feverishly polishing the twelve bore in preparation for my empty handed return. I turn, and diving into the waves, strike out at a brisk pace for France.