ALL I CAN REMEMBER OR NEARLY ALL A PASSENGER’S EYEVIEW OF THOSE THINGS CALLED TRIALS By K. HUTCHISON [We have, in the past, referred several times to feminine apathy in matters motoring. Therefore, congratulations are due to Kitty Hutchison not only for being 100 per cent. enthusiast, but to our good selves for discovering one who is an exception to a generalisation and, moreover, one who, apart from her keenness over sports motoring, also reveals a very high literary standard in con
nection with motoring subjects. Kitty is the wife of K. N. Hutchison, the well known trials driver, so we suppose congratulations are due to_ ” K.N.1-3.,” too. Kitty used to compete in the R.A.C. Rally, etc. before her marriage, notably in an Avon Standard, and she has passengered her husband in almost all his trials, since—Ed.]. WINTER 1939, providing Dolfie’s Darling Boys don’t find S.W.19 looks like being the most peaceful I’ve known for a long while. No trials, no tearing round the countryside each week-end. Muddiest moments when gardening. Canoe), CaHay ! and Peace,
perfect Peace—I hope. No starting on Friday night in the rain and/or fog, to drive 150 miles to the start. Oh yes, we have a hood, but we’ve left it behind to get more tools in, or we can’t .see out when it’s up, or it flaps on the top of our heads all the time, and there is a poisonous draught round the back of the neck when it’s up, anyway. No sleeping in dank hotels which have never dried Out since the roof blew off in the great storm of 1880. No sitting miserably at the foot of sections, picking mud and worms off my outer garments, knowing that if I move I shall get wetter than I am already, despite my shapeless rubber sack, tied around with string (the belt went long ago), the pocket of which Sags with stop-watch ; sodden routecard (abominably got up, and printed in too small type) ; copy of the regulations (ten yards in seven seconds or seven yards in ten seconds ?) ; spanner for shockers ; screwdriver for tickover ; string (remembered it this time, so we didn’t need it) ; spectacle, case ; tyre gauge ; goggles for driver ; rag for windsereon (caked with mud already) ; a bar of milk chocolate (ditto), slightly melted ; in addition to entire finances for week-end ; our special headache powders ; humbler tube of headache capsules and quinine tablets for self, (these can be swallowed en route, with the addition, of course, of a little mud), No violent aches and pains between the start and the first hill. No panics over missed route (we generally haven’t, in the end). No noble suppression of “I knew you would,” when we overshoot line B, and have to reverse back, or worse still, are not allowed to
do so. No grin of delight when Guy goes through the hedge again, but none of those infuriating moments when he climbs something we haven’t. Too, there will not be the final blow at that depressing haven. ” tea at the finish,” of ” Why is it you always look such a haybag at the end of these things ? I don’t get half so untidy, and you’ve nothing to do but sit there and say ‘ left ‘ or right ‘ as the ease may be.” And though in more spirited moments
would like to point out that I am really rather a hot house flower, I feel that after such a day, and taking present appearance into consideration, this observation would scarcely ring true. Besides, my only thought is to get clean, and loaf in a hot bath with some escapist literature—Jane Austen or Sexton Blake.
As for trials themselves, what do I remember ? The cissy car we had, long ago, which stopped on everything, boiling .furiously, and the day when, having packed a scrum all around to push it out of the way, someone loosened the radiator cap ; how we all vanished, me under a loose side-screen, (luxury—a side-screen !) and how long it took us to find the cap. And when we had a horrid little buzz-box, pale blue and chromium, masses of it. This pest had hydraulic brakes that leaked. We got very tired of returning on wet Sunday nights with only a cock-eyed hand-brake. Then there was the week-end we hit one tree in Gloucestershire and another the next day in Hampshire, after which the two ends wouldn’t meet, so we had to leave it there ; but not before we had run over our own front wing, which mysteriously fell off, and had seen a fox crossing the snow-covered downland track in front of us. I remember thinking how cold his paws must have been. Then there was the birthday I spent being rained on in Wales, which was nearly as bad as the one of dreadful memory when I was taken to Madame Tussaud’s as a child.
Not that trials can’t be good fun, but I enjoy the non-competitive moments best. In fad, during the last season I have enjoyed three trials thoroughly ; the Experts’, the Southsea President’s Trophy, and the Lawrence Cup, all of which I spectated from the comfort Of a saloon. At the first two I was -accompanied by my ” foolish friend ” who knows nothing of trials, patters around On high heels, and insists upon stopping to gather twigs and sprigs, and though terrified of going up, or down, hills (main road), never turns a hair when I take a writer far too fast. On each occasion, too, I was Comforted by the thought that the accompanying car contained Martin Soames and some Assorted Allards, who would extricate me from any pickles I found myself in, if I looked sufficiently helpless. But the real party was the Lawrence Cup—not on the day of the trial, but when getting out the course. It was a
jolly good course in the wet. We got the old Ford down into the morass near Tunnel I, and we had L. G. and Mrs, Johnson, R. G. Andrews, Mrs. Hardy and me, bouncing in the back, not to’ mention Paul throwing his weight about in the front b,fore we =gummed it. The next week-end was finer, but our first duty was to extricate a V8 coupewhich the Hardy’s had abandoned the night before in a swamp. This we moved. with the aid of two ex-pine trees and part of the army, before settling down to the serious business of the day, followed. by a giant picnic in a sylvan glade near Red Roads (did you know there were any ?) and ending with races up Red Roads, and a neat circuit of Section Four and part of Red Roads. This went on until something vital went on the coupe, SC) we towed it away, and a good time was had by all.
In fact, after due consideration, trials do have their good points. Parts of theta are quite enjoyable. After getting really wet, a little more damp, even if it is snow this time, doesn’t matter ; and one does get into the most lovely country :— the Black Mountains of Herefordshire, Exmoor, the Downs near Peterstield, and. the Kentish Hills . . . It was at the end Of a Kentish observed section that asked enthusiastically ” Did you ‘see the primroses ? ” The Highland Two Day Trial is good fun, too, but they have few byeways, so that unless the country is new to you, it is rather boring between.
sections. My chief recollections of this, trial are that the car fell off the jack when wheel changing, a valve stuck open when letting down the tyres, and how, on the Sabbath, a day of rest, with the cars impounded, ten of us took a 120 mile trip to Mallaig in one VS saloon. The year before, the Sunday was spent at ()ban, so we went, on a rough day, in an open boat, to Tobermory on Mull, where we ate lots of eggs and bacon in the middle of the afternoon, before another even colder four hours trip back. One really good thing about trials is the competitors themselves. Weird and wonderful things may stray in occasionally, but the regulars are a pretty resourceful crowd, with a healthy disrespect for humbug and red tape in any form, together with a positive genius for finding loopholes in regulations. When this present nonsense has been called off, it will be interesting to see what form
trials will take. ” Nobblies ” will be back again, I hope, and no night sections and very elastic timekeeping, lots of lovely gluey sections with hardly any distance between them, and best of all,. may it rain for a week beforehand, but not during the trial.
Meanwhile, damnation to vat-mongers everywhere.