Oh we had a glorious time ! That place, Brook— something, is awfully interesting, you know.
Of course, I don’t pretend to be frightfully well up in it, mind you, but m:y friend who took me down is on the Motor Press and he said : “We’ll have a look at the Grand Prix Sunbeam’s supercharger.”
Well, you know, I hate to appear ignorant or anything like that, and of course I realise now why he smiled at me like he did, when I said : “I’d love to go, as I’ve always been so interested in the cavalry.”
Anyhow, we got there, but we never saw that supercharger. There were a lot of other men dawdling round the Sunbeam when we arrived, and they were all trying to coax the owners to lift up that lid-thing that covers the doings. But the said owners proved adamant, and stolidly turned down all bribes. There was a chap there who told my friend that something had “packed up “just like our cook—and this was all the explanation which was vouchsafed.
My friend said : “Never mind ; I suppose the Press luncheon hasn’t been cancelled in consequence, has it ? ”
It had not, and as some thirty covers were laid for the far less number of Pressmen who missed the warning that the ” do ” was off, my friend smuggled me in as one of the Fourth Estate. He told me to say I represented the ” Wardour Street World” if questioned. I did myself rather well at that luncheon and from what was provided I think that Pressmen must be recognised as devils of fellows.
Later, it was announced that a fellow named Thomas was going for some records. I don’t know where he proposed to go to, but evidently his example was inspiring, because word soon came round that another man—Eldridge, I think his name was—would do likewise. Wherever they went, the shop must have been shut, for I never heard a gramophone while I was there.
Anyhow, this Thomas chap turned up later on in a funny-shaped motor car and went round the sloping concrete part awfully quickly. My pal told me he’d actually broken some records on the way round, so I reckon he’s not much of a musician anyway.
Tell you what, though, he had on one of the most hectic Fair Isle jumpers I’ve ever seen, and it made me think of that solitary ape outside the monkey house at the Zoo.
One of the attendants told me that that red streak to match, which runs across this Thomas-fellow’s face, was where he broke the timing-tape at Skegness Speed trials recently, and he guessed it must have something-well hurt, because he did it at such a colossal speed. Strictly between ourselves, I don’t quite know what the man was talking about, but that’s just what he told me—honest it is.
But it only shows that Thomas is a clumsy devil, for he’s always breaking something. First its records, then its tapes, then its sartorial regulations, and then its more records.
While we were waiting for Thomas to begin, my friend said : “Ha, there’s Tommy “—and I turned round, and was introduced to a chap called Tommy Hann who, I believe, is in charge of shocks down there, or something, and we had a few ; and then Hann said : ” Ha ! there’s George—” and I turned round to be introduced to George Duller, the jockey-fellow who, I believe, had been training performing-fleas down there, because I heard someone ask : “How’s the Bug ? ” He replied—” She’s running a lot better now . . .” and we had a few more. Presently someone exclaimed :” Ha! there’s Sammy “—but by this time it was not I who was turning round—it was the bar. That Sunbeam lunch must have been good.
Then Hann took me over to some aeroplane hangars and showed me around one of his own.
I think he must be cultivating a temperament by postal tuition or something, this Hann-fellow, for he doesn’t use his shed for aeroplanes at all—bless you, no, it’s full of old racing cars in varying stages of stagnation, and new ones in differing degrees of creation. Awfully interesting, though, and he seemed particularly attached to a car called “Quickly-catch-Funky,” or something like that.
Of course, I’m not frightfully technical, you know, but there’s one thing that did strike me about these racing cars, and that is the difficulty their drivers seem to experience in getting their engines to go. Now I believe my pal’s car didn’t cost so much money as most of these cars, and yet his is fitted with one of those self-commencers.
Then, after that, I rejoined my pal at the bar and helped him out. Just then Selfridge—I mean Eldridge—appeared on his F.I.A.T. (which, someone told me, stands for “Fun in a Taxi,” but I think he must have been pulling my leg, don’t you ?)
Well, anyhow, Eldridge went out on to the round concrete part to see if he could go any faster than Thomas had done, when he smashed the records, but he didn’t go so fast, so he soon came back again. Perhaps taxidriving has rather disheartened him.
By the way, a funny thing happened while Eldridge was trying.
I do hate those people who deliberately mislead one rather than admit they do not know what you wish to know, don’t you ?
I distinctly heard a fellow reply to another chap’s enquiry that Eldridge had just “gone up the Byfleet Bank.”
Now, of course, I knew he couldn’t have done so, for my friend had told me all the banks were shut when he touched me for something with which to pay for the drinks. So I went up and contradicted this chap and said—quite politely, mark you—that the gentleman must have been misinformed as Mr. Eldridge was driving a motor car round that sloping part yonder.
But I don’t think he understood.
Anyhow we certainly did have a glorious time—though I do wish they’d taken the top off the Sunbeam, for I’ve always wanted to see a horse power—specially a super one. . . .