For reasons too complicated to explain I found myself roaring around Castle Coombe racetrack this week in a series of British-made vehicles. Oh, OK then, since you ask – a bunch of people turned up at my house last Monday and emptied it of everything that wasn't made in Britain. I now have to travel round the Kingdom trying to replace everything with stuff that was actually made here. This is obviously for a TV programme, as only TV would ever come up with such a weird concept.
See, I told you it was complicated but you shouldn't have asked. I'm writing this at Newquay Airport, having sampled English-grown tea and discovered that the original lava lamp was made in Poole ... but I digress. Back at the racetrack I was presented with the obvious choices: Jaguar, Mini Cooper, Morgan and then some real wild cards like a horse and carriage, a Triumph Motorcycle (plus sidecar) and a fold-up bicycle.
They were all fun in their different ways and it made me realise just how obsessed we are with races: anything that moves, we race. It must be a primeval instinct deep within us that tells us to try to beat the bloke next to you in whatever mode of transport you might be in.
Actually, there is one exception, the tractor. I'm sure that there are tractor races somewhere in deepest, darkest Hicksville but the ones that I've come across this week were all using the blocking technique that just means driving slowly and pointlessly and not allowing anybody to overtake. I suppose that this is racing in some senses, because they do get wherever it is that they are going to first, but it is definitely cheating.
I tried in vain to persuade the inventor of the fold-up bicycle that he needed to organise some commuter race on them to promote his surprisingly comfortable mode of transport. They could do a sort of Planes, Trains and Automobiles-thing with pinstriped contestants smashing each other out of the way with umbrellas. After all, it's not like any of them have jobs left to go to, is it?
I have always been tempted to do something like the Dakar Rally but it seems that you have to be a little technical and boast quite a support team to have any chance of doing it. No, for someone like me the kind of thing that is realistic is something like the Gumball Rally. This is an annual rally that puts celebs in posh cars with trustafarian types and they drive across America or Europe with a big party at each pit stop. This initially sounds like quite good fun but when you actually take a look at the sort of people who take part they almost invariably turn out to be tossers that you really wouldn't want to spend time with at a bus stop, let alone drive across a continent in their company. My road rallies tend to be of the unofficial type where somebody stares at me in a funny way at a red light and then we have a death-defying rally for the next hour while I try to hide the fact from my wife, who is sitting in the passenger seat next to me reading a book.
I've also started racing my dogs against each other but I'm not entirely sure that this is legal. I take them both out into the large lower field behind the house and then get them both to stay at the gate while I get to the other side. Once in place I give them a shout and they roar towards me. It's normally quite tight and they seem to enjoy themselves. I'm certain, however, that there is some law against doing this. I've started to charge local residents £5 for the thrill of coming to see these canine Olympics – that is probably definitely illegal.
Back at Castle Coombe I was trotting around the track, being pulled by a horse. It was quite sedate, hardly Ben Hur, but it was good fun. Prince Philip takes part in this particular sport and I couldn't really see the attraction until the lady sitting with me said that you couldn't be done for drink-driving on these things and that it was the ideal mode of transport for a pub crawl. I could imagine Philip sneaking out of Windsor and trawling round pubs challenging local yokels to a race down the high street. Might have to get myself one and take him on – should be fun.
Cashley back on top – hopefully on his own
It might have been better for all concerned if Ashley Cole had climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and stayed up there, leaving his fragrant wife to enjoy happier times...Reuse content