Speed again

It’s the Brighton Speed Trials 2021. This means they close the whole beach outside Lou’s flat. All the businesses shut down completely. No access to anything unless you pay fifteen quid to go sit in an enclosure and occasionally watch somebody with a car you can’t afford flashing past.

There were a fair few people watching. It wasn’t the least well attended event I’ve ever seen. But I definitely went to events with my dad where the local businesses were still open and many more people were involved. Also there was a very strong smell of smug emanating from the attendees and the competitors we could see. It felt like nobody was really very good at manipulating vehicles, but everybody thought they were. Lots of vintage accessories off eBay and inherited stuff. I was mostly just annoyed at the fact they had closed the seafront. I wanted a coffee.

We drove to Rottingdean and lay on the beach there a while instead, away from all the people revving engines. Maybe they were lovely people. Who knows? I was not inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt while the beach outside Lou’s flat remained closed.

This evening though, mostly inspired by some of the shiny vintage toy cars we saw people slowly hammering, we had movie night and put on The World’s Fastest Indian. It’s about Burt Munro, who was making land speed records on a ridiculous customised motorbike in the late 1960’s. That was my dad’s big era, when he was racing whatever the hell he could get his hands on across land and sea. Powerboats and bobsleighs were his most noticeable successes, but I know he was hammering land speed as well long before I was around. I hadn’t seen the movie before, but it’s a kind movie, and it eulogises those days – definitely the glory days of personality in racing. Even in the film we see shades of the beginning of the regulation and safety that killed so much of the joy for dad. I know that the mainline of adrenaline for him was swept up in the knowledge that his life was on a knife edge. Skill, luck, nerve and reaction time over buffers, failsafes and computer systems. Too many of his friends exploded. I remember his sadness around such things, even later when he didn’t know them as with Ayrton Senna. Good to look at that world through the eyes of my industry.

Made from New Zealand just after The Lord of The Rings blew open possibilities for a lot of makers over there, it had a 25 million dollar budget and took just 18.5 back globally. I think they might have done better with a different name. Still it’ll be ticking over, with Anthony Hopkins beautiful in the leading role, and a pretty robust 82% rotten tomato score. We paid £2.50 for it, but that’ll mostly go to some asshole in California who runs the streaming platform. I would recommend it for a happy chance to lose some time in story. I like a movie without any real antagonist. The villain of the piece is Death, invisible like so many movie monsters, but lurking on the edge of so many of the greatest moments.

It made me want to go down onto Brighton Beach, elbow some tit out of his driving seat and show him how that rally clutch is supposed to work.

As it is I’m just gonna go to bed. I’ll drive to London tomorrow, but Bergman can’t do much more than 120 downhill with time to get momentum, and not as much as that on the heavily monitored roads between London and Brighton. And that’s just theoretical.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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