There aren’t that many things coming the other way which distract me these days. I spend so much time on the road that I’ve seen pretty much everything anyway. What’s more, the need to keep all four tyres sticky side down on the tarmac means that I really can’t afford the distraction on our crowded roads. There are occasional exceptions.
I’m not talking about PYTs in strappy little summery dresses; not this time anyway. I’m talking about the rare stuff, the unusual stuff and the exquisitely beautiful stuff which occasionally and momentarily means that I watch it instead of the road ahead. I was in Scotland last week which is why there were no blog posts. My dongle wasn’t working. It’s not often a man admits to a fault with his dongle, but I’m secure and know that sometimes equipment failures happen and it’s really nobody’s fault… Was I just talking about PYTs in summery strappy dresses?
The A14 is a complete sod of a road. For those of you who don’t know it, it’s a two lane dual carriageway for most of its length and it has a lamentable standard of driving combined with very heavy traffic loads most mornings around Cambridge. There are few mornings I go along it when there isn’t a queue of traffic and sadly sometimes it’s been caused by an accident. Last week, as I headed out of Cambridge along the A14 towards the A1, there was the usual long line of nearly stationary cars and trucks trying to head in the opposite direction from the Swavesey junction. What was unusual was the Ferrari 458 trickling along with the rest of them in the outside lane. It was Retail Red. I couldn’t tell from my side of the carriageway and at the speed I was doing what colour the interior was but if it wasn’t either Nero or Crema, I’ll eat some of Jeremy Clarkson’s hairy omelette. And that wasn’t a euphemism. I hadn’t understood the 458 until that moment. I’d seen the pictures and it just seemed odd-looking. I saw it at the showroom in Edinburgh and thought it looked surprisingly okay, considering. It’s only when you see it out of doors, in real light that the shape finally clicks. I’d still rather have the McLaren but I’m not going to think anyone who’d have the Ferrari is an idiot any more.
I saw a few nice vintage Bentleys and one Rolls-Royce 20/25hp during my week in Scotland. I’ve written about my weakness for the fastest lorries on Earth before in this blog so I won’t go on at length here. I will confess however that I missed the VSCC Spring Start this year for the first time in ages because I was distracted by running. I’m training for the Edinburgh Half Marathon on 22 May and if you feel so inclined, you can sponsor me on my Just Giving page. I’m raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Back to last week’s Bentleys. The one which stuck in my memory the most was in Fife. It wasn’t a vintage car, it was a special. It was a two seat roadster with what looked like a cut down Mk6 or R-Type radiator surround at the end of its long, green bonnet. Again it was travelling in the opposite direction to me leaving a village as I was entering and I really couldn’t affort to watch it at all because of the children playing with a ball on the pavement a couple of hundred yards ahead. All I had was a flash of sunlight reflected from the radiator and the merest impression of a rakishly unkempt body. I liked it very much indeed.
Soon you won’t be able to move in some parts of the world without falling over a Ferrari 458. They’re going to make a few thousand a year of them, after all. Even old Bentleys are not that unusual in the quieter backroads of rural England on some sunny weekends. Ariel Atom V8s are never going to be a common slight unless you work for Ariel while they’re building them. I saw one on Friday afternoon. It was just south of the Scottish border on the A68 and it was all wings. I know that there isn’t much more to the V8’s bodywork than that in any case but all I noticed were the front wing as it closed on me and the rear wing as it disappeared up the road in my wing mirror. I didn’t have time to lower my window to hear the engine as it passed but it was travelling slowly in any case. That is a single carriageway and traffic was light but constant in each direction. The road is bendy there, all short straights and frustration if you’re caught behind a caravan or a truck with not much chance to overtake unless you’re sociopathic or suicidal. I was stuck behind a tour bus which was travelling quickly enough down the hill but had insufficient momentum to go up slopes all that well. My swearing at the back end of the stupid bus stopped for a few minutes after I saw the Atom. There was a nice long straight which was free of oncoming traffic a few corners later and I breezed past it. Sometimes, a moment’s distraction is enough to refocus on the task in hand.