The heavy oak doors flung open before a furious behemoth stormed through, his face an alarming hue of red, with foaming saliva peppered over a 1980s grey goatee beard.
“Stupid old bastards! Half-dead cretins!” he yelled, kicking over the elephant-foot umbrella stand on his way across the cavernous entrance hall towards the huge outer doors. “You count for nothing in Spain, you pricks!”
“Morning Kev”, muttered Mark Neate from a dark corner of the foyer – never intending for his greeting to actually be heard.
“Oh well that’s going to put them in great bloody form, that is…”, grumbled Mark. He sat hunched over with his chin in his hands, the furrows of his brow perhaps even more pronounced than normal. His shirt, a neck size or two too small, dug uncomfortably into his neck whilst Clare stared at him pitifully and straightened his creased necktie.
“Don’t worry petal, you’ll do just fine – remember you’re doing this for me, sweetie-pie”.
“Yes dear.” His response lacked the conviction Clare would have hoped for.
There was a loud ‘Tsk’ from the darkest corner of the hallway, a shadowy figure sat bolt upright, staring at the ceiling with her eyes rolled back in her head.
“NEXT! No Limits Racing!”
Mark looked sheepishly at his wife, slowly hauling himself from the wooden bench. He shuffled towards the oak doors and into the brightly lit room. The walls were lined with portraits of men who clearly had one foot in the grave and the other on a Triumph oil spill. Each one, to a man, was scowling disapprovingly from the walls above. Across the back wall sat five similarly decrepit – but medically alive – old walruses, sporting various designs of scratchy grey facial hair and pronounced looks of discontent. Their beady dark eyes were trained on Mark, staring from either side of their bulbous, lumpy, veiny noses – witness to years of whiskey abuse. All, that was, but the most portly and sweaty of the five who appeared much more interested in Clare as she strode purposefully into the room.
“What brings you to the hallowed halls of the ACU, Mr Neate?”, mumbled the largest of the dark figures.
There was a long pause before a loving finger to the ribs from Clare brought Mark to life and he muttered “Face masks, m’lord”.
“God preserve us, not this again?” blurted the official. Spittle flew from his fat lips and into his glass of sparkling water. His complexion suggested he spat more water into his glass than he ever took out.
Mark looked to Clare with a pleading expression, but the scowl left him in no doubt there was no getting out of this.
“I would like to formally object to your facemask ruling in the interests of the wellbeing of my staff. If we are to have a hope of running a successful weekend at Cadwell, the ruling must be overturned.”
“MIS-ter Neate, do we look like the sort of men who, on a whim or a fancy from some backstreet racer will overturn our judgement on a matter of the utmost gravity? Our ruling must stand!” bellowed the official.
One of the less impressive of the five grey-suited lumps was wriggling in is velvet chair. Lockdown had led to an extra stone or two round the waist and his wife’s skimpy underwear was chafing something awful under his elasticated Farahs.
Mark ignored the distraction and looked to Clare.
“I told you…”
“I said do it…”
“Erm, your honourable highnesses, may I please bring forward a witness to present our case, please, please, Sir?”
“Christ…”, muttered the lead walruss, “Go on then but make it quick.”
Mark stared to the doors at the back of the hall, “Toni, could you join us please?”
The panel instantly stared at each other with alarm, their vast bushy eyebrows suddenly lifting several inches higher up their liver-spotted foreheads.
“Suffering fuck, they’re bringing in the Downie!”
To a man, all five officials sunk into their chairs, suddenly adopting the posture of year nine schoolboys having been caught red-handed by Miss Strickland playing pocket billiards under the desk in a History lesson.
The figure appeared from the entrance hall. Her dark eyes were trained on the main man, not breaking her lazer stare for a second.
“Why doesn’t she blink? I hate that she doesn’t blink?!”
“Shut-up you clown”
Toni Downie took her position, several feet closer to the bench than the grey, dusty and now slightly paler men would have liked. The black sheen of her neatly combed hair matched the full length leather jacket, looking all the world like gestapo.
“Hello, boys.” Toni sneered. “Nice to see you again”
You don’t debate the Downie. You never debate the Downie. Their heads dropped further.
“Picture this, from your plump velvet pulpits, boys, sat there sweating on your comfy little haemorrhoid rings. Imagine being put behind glass. Imagine being put there for days. In the same hard, plastic seat. Now imagine a line of club racers. Yes – club racers. Imagine that line never ends. For days. Imagine the intellect you are presented with. Imagine the outright, unfathomable stupidity of the questions, the arguments, the moans and the whinges. For just one minute imagine the sheer knuckle-dragging, unwashed misery I am presented with. Imagine the smell as these van dwellers sweat all day in leather suits that reek like festering dog-corpses, pissing in Irn Bru bottles, hands thick in engine oil. The children – oh the ferrel little brats – running amok. Imagine having to pretend not to hate every last one of the shoeless little urchins.”
The stare was ice-cold, eyelids now seemingly redundant. Black eye liner intensified the effect. The words came out with a hiss, the sound a melody of pure venom. Yet there was a barely-perceptible but definite smirk in the corner of her mouth as she spoke. Behind the bench, a pair of grey Farahs had a large and rapidly increasing dark patch growing down one inside leg.
“Imagine this sat beside you,” her arm springing to point at Mark as he stared at his scuffed black shoes, “misery personified in your ear all day every day. Imagine Mister ‘fingernails on a blackboard’ Banting who couldn’t take anything seriously if his balls were in a vice, bouncing around the place like Zebedee on Es with his nose in his phone. All behind glass. In a Portakabin. With no heating. And no cooling. And no blinds. Do you get it? Do you understand? Can you picture it??”
Three pairs of Farahs were now destined for the dry cleaners as red velvet seats soaked up the permanent scent of old-man piss.
“And over the horizon, a ray of hope. A pandemic, airbourne, for which the most effective preventative measure is a face mask. Can you imagine for one moment the bliss, the pure relief I felt at the idea of not having to see the toothless, bristly, filthy, rancorous-breathed mugs of that swarm of imbeciles for days on end? Can you imagine how much more palatable the misery which is my life would be if we had those pitiful beings masked and gagged? AND YOU FIVE PRICKS DECIDE WE DON’T NEED MASKS??? GIVE ME FUCKING MASKS!! MAKE THEM WEAR THEM! MAKE THEM!!!!”
It was over before it begun. They knew it. There was no retort that would not enrage the Downie and thus there was no retort that could even be considered.
“Motion overturned. Mandatory facemasks at Cadwell Park” muttered the official.
The No Limits three strode out of the building, Mark almost breaking into a girly skip. He stopped in the car park and looked to Toni.
Toni lifted her eyebrows and gave him a faux-surprised look. Mark quickly hopped into the long, black Beemer, knowing when to quit. Clare winked at Toni, Toni winked back with a smile – both safe in the knowledge of who actually ran things at No Limits.
And so it was. Cadwell Park 2020 was a masked affair. And not just the ugly ones – even the girls had to cover their bakes.
Team ‘What’s An Apex?’ had a lively masked weekend in the sun. Geordie Henderson, Sean Kenyon and Dan Boucher were the team this round. One pit crew barely made it when his van broke down. We had a mechanical in solo practice. For the second race meeting in a row, two of our riders went down in the solo race before the Endurance. One rider pulled out of endurance to fix his bike only to join again after a simple fix was found. Our first rider out had a mechanical in the first laps forcing a pit stop. Red flags, safety cars, an all-action race but we finished second in class despite all of this. Even then we were not done. Another crash for Dan in a solo on Sunday and even when we had finished racing Mr Kenyon decided to finish the weekend by dropping his bike in a field….
A mad but highly satisfying weekend with a great crowd. We are all very much looking forward to Donington in a few weeks time.
SOUNDTRACK TO THE WEEKEND
My Soundtrack to the Weekend selection is from within our very own team. Captain Henderson presented with this obscenity, actually proposing that this was our energy source for three days. The redundant black thing rattling in a heap used to be an exhaust.
I cannot tell you the depth of personal affront this caused me, being associated with someone responsible for such a pollution. Not only did I have to hide in shame as the crowds gathered to see what it was that was registering on the Richter scale in Louth, but Mrs Henderson had to go all weekend with her locks untamed by the magic of Mr Dyson’s Supersonic due to the chronic inefficiency of the clattering yellow fire hazard. This has resulted in a significant Brownie-point deficit for our captain.