In every walk of life and in connection with every sport one encounters spoilsports. Such is Simon Ward of the Daily Sketch, who saw fit to write an article about the Veteran Car Run to Brighton condemning the traffic congestion it caused and criticising the police.
A journalist can easily produce sensational copy at such times, but Ward’s article, called “Inside Information,” does not appeal to us clever or constructive.
Enthusiasm to see the veterans did result in congestion, and the police gave right of passage in this typically English event to the competing cars, which, after all, only use the Brighton Road once a year and then only for about three hours in the Sunday morning. Some hundreds of occupants of modern vehicles may have experienced inconvenience, but most of them did so gladly, remembering that they had themselves been attracted by the veterans, and that all told some two million people (including lots of children) derived enormous pleasure from the Run.
The police did the job they were told to do, cheerfully and efficiently, but Simon Ward, scarcely their best friend, rushes into print to belittle them. He does, it is true, state that the veterans were not to blame for the congestion, although he quotes them as having doubtful brakes, calls them “old crocks” (he couldn’t even inform himself correctly as to their numbers), and objected to their belching of smoke, flame and smell . . . ! But our appreciation of the excellent policing of the Brighton Road on this national occasion prompts us to give publicity to the misguided journalese of Simon Ward and the Daily Sketch.
In view of the publicity occasioned by this year’s Brighton Run we also feel it necessary to refer more prominently to the one fatal accident in all these Brighton Runs than we should otherwise do. Take into account the facts. The Panhard at Levassor involved should have started No. 91 but was apparently leading every other veteran and was ahead of schedule when the accident happened. It was travelling along one of the fastest stretches of the route. The incident was apparently comparatively mild, for the Panhard arrived on time at Brighton, taken on by another driver. Earlier the passengers had been observed to be extremely exuberant and in the habit of standing up in their seats, one blowing a trumpet. Under the circumstances, does this add up to veteran cars, as such, being dangerous, or unwise handling of (and behaviour) in a veteran, as of any other motor vehicle, being the cause of disaster? We leave our readers to work this out for themselves! — W. B.