A simple proposition - dig a hole, cement post. Repeat 50 times. But this is Whitham. His brush with power tools does not auger well
It's hard to believe now, but this narrow, 2.5-mile public road circuit that winds its way up, down and around a municipal park, held a round of the British championship until as recently as 1988. And going back beyond that, at the annual International Gold Cup meeting, the track hosted some truly great riders including Barry Sheene, Mick Grant, Phil Read, Roger Marshall, John Surtees and Giacomo Agostini.
So I was dead chuffed when I was asked to take part in the Past Masters parade at this year's Gold Cup. Most notable among the old duffers, er, sorry, past masters, were Granty, riding a beautifully restored RG500 Suzuki, and Ago himself (flown in by helicopter) on a 1974 MV. The whole meeting had a refreshing feel to it. No hospitality units, no corporate guests, no press releases, no 15-year-old prima donnas worrying more about having the latest Oakleys than their tyre pressures. Just a paddock full of enthusiasts with their bikes. Mint!
The stables I've been building so Andrea can have her horses at home are nearly finished. One of the last jobs has been to put up 150 yards of fencing. The wife suggested post and rail fencing would look the best. This, as the name would suggest, involves cementing 50 or so wooden posts into the ground and then nailing three rows of rails onto them. To make the holes in the ground for the posts I thought I was being clever by renting a thing called an 'auger'. This machine has an engine driving a 12-inch diameter drill, and is operated by two men holding handles that extend out each side.What's supposed to happen, so the man said, is you rev up the motor and let the drill effortlessly screw itself into the earth, as you and your accomplice, in this case a mate of mine called Zac, hold it straight. You then remove it leaving a neat, round hole ready to cement your post into.
What actually happened was we revved up the engine and watched as the drill sank six-inches into the ground, then shat ourselves as it snagged on a large rock and the whole contraption started spinning around the now stationary drill, with us still clinging onto the handles. It was like being in a helicopter crash. Make no mistake, augers are the work of the devil. Eventually we took it back and rented one of those small diggers.
The WSB end-of-season party on the Sunday night at Magny-Cours was a good one. A few of the British championship lads made the trip out for a bit of a busman's holiday. Cal Crutchlow, Tom Sykes, me ol' mate Shoey, even the mag's Diddy Daryll turned up. Now, I wouldn't consider myself a piss-head at all, but you know those times when you're in good company, having a laugh, and the beer just seems to get a grip of you. Well, it was one of those times.
I felt thick headed all the way home on the Monday. I managed to get my bag off the carousel okay. And pay for my car parking, and get onto the bus back to the long-term car park. But could I remember where the car was? Eventually I'm the only one left on the bus and the driver says, "come stand at the front mate, you'll see your car easier."
After another two laps stood swaying against the front window I had to say, "Stop the bus!" "Have you spotted it?" he says. "No mate, I'm gonna throw up!" He let me off and drove away shaking his head.
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