Bentley Drivers Club Lunch & Other Motorsport Stories

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click over here now Yesterday we joined the Bentley Drivers Club for their annual Competitions Day at their beautiful clubhouse in the Oxfordshire countryside. We’ve sprinted with the BDC a couple of times at MIRA, they’re are a bunch of awesome chaps, so it was a pleasure to be able to spend some time and find out more about the club.

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We were greeted with tea and biscuits, and invited to peruse the exhibits – the stylish trophies, the maginficent engines and the delightful onyx ashtray awarded in 1936 to CT Baker-Carr for his victory at the first club race in 1936 where his lap speed was 104.19mph. I could barely make that in 2015 in the Elise!

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I also admired the selection of teaspoons.

In the main room I noticed the acrylic frieze that bordered the top of the walls, showing the names of those who had contributed to the club. I like names. Barbara Fell, Anthony Hater, Donald Day (D Day), David McBean and Wolfgang Traut, all gave me joy to read.

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We sat on bright emerald green plastic chairs that reminded me of the dentists waiting room from when I was a child. I loved going to that dentist. He was a nice chap, and very kind (he said I had special spit) but the thing I liked most was his waiting room – glossy green chairs, white walls, matt black doors, interesting prints and plants. (Unwittingly I think I’m trying to recreate that look in my studio right now!)

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Trophies and lovely glass tankards were given as awards to drivers, the marshal of the year, and others, and then Martin Greenslade, Competitions Secretary, was given thanks and gifts for his ten year service to the club. The applause went on, and on, and he looked happy and humble. I think he’s a nice man.

The discussion topic raised was ‘How do we avoid considerably aggressive driving?’ My answer – sedation, or, more cakes.

By the end of the meeting I was convinced, and still am (although it’s only been 24 hours) that we need to buy the cheapest, fattest Bentley we can find and race the bejesus out of it!

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Lunch was sausages and mashed potato with vegetables (the lady serving the food was kind to me and picked out the peas!) and we were seriously well looked after with a choice of three puddings – Bailey’s bread and butter pudding, apple and summer fruits crumble, or sticky toffee pudding. Carol took some spare sausages home and I wished I’d asked for a couple of toffee puddings for my pockets.

It was a lovely and encouraging experience, with a charming and welcoming club who really do want people to get involved at all levels.

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I came away feeling lucky to know good people and good clubs like the Bentley Drivers Club, and of course, LoTRDC, the club that has introduced me to a whole new world of decent people. Big up the LoTRDC massive!

Not everyone is as kind, or encouraging!

Just the other weekend I was kindly offered tickets to Autosport International and the Performance Car Show by Landsail Tyres who were sponsoring the event. I jumped at the chance, having had a great time last year.

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We headed straight to the LoTRDC stand to say hello, then met up with Mark and Phoebe and wandered to the BRSCC MX5 Championship stand. Mark asked a few questions, saying we were all sprinters, and their representative Bob spent about 20 minutes talking directly to Mark and Adam about the championship.

“What will the girls do?” Bob finally turned his attention to me and Phoebe.

“Well I was rather hoping to drive!” I exclaimed.

Bob didn’t look convinced. I continued to ask if they had any female drivers, but Bob said they came and went, as they split up with their partners. He thought the girls could organise the barbecue, he seemed hooked on the idea of luring girls for tea and cake duties. He said they had a lovely time though. “We’re always taking the shit out of each other!” Bob exploded with a gleeful snigger.

We decided we didn’t want the shit taking out of us, so we moved on.

We headed straight over to the 750 Motor Club stand to ask about their Five Club Racing series, and were greeted by Alyn.

“You need three of these!” he exclaimed excitedly as soon as he saw us approaching, pointing the MX5 behind him. “One for you,” he pointed at Mark, “One for you,” he pointed at Adam, “And a shopping car for the girls!” he said with a smile on his face and a look of anticipation. I think he expected to get a laugh, but he just got a wall of sighs.

“Are you serious?” I said, as he ran away muttering and didn’t come back. Really, he Quality Tastylia Drugs At Low Price No Prescription Needed ran away. So that was the end of that!

We went and got chips. Men wandered the aisles clutching plastic pints of beer, Phoebe and I got offered to get our hair done by a lady on a frilly pink stand, and I decided I never want to go to Autosport again.

Luckily, only a week later we were at the Borough 19 Awards Dinner (another club we sprint with) and my faith in motorsport related humanity was restored. We had a brilliant time, sitting on the same table as Tim Coles and his family (Tim is the champion who leant me his race suit on my first ever sprint!) and being thoroughly entertained by ex-F1 driver and original Stig (apparently they wanted to call him the Gimp but he said no!) Perry McCarthy.

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This really is like Jerry Springers final thought, but, I suppose in all things, you have to take the good with the bad, and although I was really disappointed by the attitudes of Bob and Alyn at Autosport, there’s still good to be taken from that experience and I’ve learnt two very important things – bad people make you appreciate good people even more, and, nobody should take the shit out of anyone without their consent.

Wild Horses & The Midwinter Movement

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The other evening, as the winter light faded and the darkness gathered round, twenty wild horses ran by, into the night. The energy was palpable, even through the double glazed window.

It was beautiful. Magical. I wanted to run with them, to enjoy that sense of freedom and belonging. To live in that fleeting moment.

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In the morning I went out to look for the last of the winter wreaths. They’d all gone, but there was a faint rainbow in the sky and the smell of fabric conditioner in the air.

People were ringing in the new year – decorations and lights all gone, washing on, leaves and needles being swept.

Our wreath is still on the door, our lights are still up in the house. I want to make the most of them and the warmth and cheer that they bring.

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I am more for celebrating the winter and finding ways to add light and enjoy the season. This Christmas we managed to avoid the greed and gluttony, and it was fabulous. I feel like we’ve been released into a beautiful world of genuine enjoyment and honest appreciation, of the season, and everything that goes with it. I call it the Midwinter Movement. I am not a hippy, or a Pagan.

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The chickens started laying again on New Years Day, and with barely any warning we are back to business. My diary is filling up at a rate of knots and every phone call, email or meeting has been bringing something new and exciting.

Our Shutter Hub talks programme resumes this month, and although I’m not really looking forward to driving up and down the motorways and eating service station sandwiches, I am looking forward to meeting lots of new photographers and finding ways to help them develop their careers.

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Later this month I’ll be delivering portfolio reviews for BSAA and Metro Imaging alongside photographer Dan Rubin and Wall Street Journal Photo Editor Dan Gaba. There are still tickets available here, if you know anyone who’d like to come along.

Then on January 20th I’m going to be on stage at the London Art Fair as part of a panel discussion on ‘Encouraging diversity in photography’ in association with PhotoVoice. That’s pretty exciting, and slightly daunting, because we all know there’s no telling what I will do – be it dropping curtseys, imitating small animals, pulling trucker horn-blowing impressions, or a bit of everything.

Oh, the suspense!

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My wandering, as it often does, led me to the graveyard, where primroses were already beginning to bloom and a cheeky squirrel had abandoned his walnut hardhat and moss toupee on the top of a grave.

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