At the end of the race, me (Bone), Twig (John), and Boo-boo (Tony), were collecting up the road signs. Having just dropped Twig off at the Littlebury corner to collect the last few signs, me and Tony drove up the finishing hill to collect the last one and we were then done.
I was driving in my small, 5 seater van. I pulled up on the left and Tony jumped out of the back, leaving the side door open. He ran around the other side to cut down the sign that is tied to a bush. My window is wound down. From the side road opposite, a man with a dog was approaching. At first, I thought he was just a chap out walking his dog then, in an Irish accent, he said “Can yhew give us a lift ?” “No sorry”, I said firmly. “Oh go on, me dog is hurt and I need to get him to the vets. I’ll pay yhew!” I could see the dog was quite badly cut up and bleeding.
Two more blokes with dogs had by now arrived, and I could see more approaching. I’m thinking, hurry up Tony. “We’ll give £50, just run us to the pub!” Lots of quick chatting and then within a blink of an eye, 7 blokes built like the proverbial brick **** house and 7 great big dogs (lurchers apparently) were all in the van, with Tony wedged against the window. So, 5 on the backseat, 2 in the back bit, and the bloke with all the chat next to me. “Give the bloke some money lads.” I’m now sitting on the key and £30 is thrust into my hands. I’m thinking to myself, well that’s not £50. “Look I can’t take you”, I quipped, “I’ve got my mate waiting and I’ll get nicked.” “Don’t worry lad I’ll drive”, he rejoined. “That’s definitely not happening”, I protested and stood my ground.
Stalemate, we’re not going anywhere, I thought. “Just take me and the dog then, and some of the lads will get out”, he countered. One got out from the boot, and one from the back seat. Still overloaded, but not sure how to get out of this situation now. With poor old Tony still pinned against the window with a couple of dogs slobbering all over him, I think that maybe I’ve got the best deal here. “Just to the pub at the bottom”, he interjected. That’s ok I thought, it’s only about 200 meters away. “Ok but that’s it”, I said firmly.
We’re now at the bottom of the road. “No, not here, turn right just up to the Fighting Cocks.” I couldn’t see Twig, and not much I can do now, so off we went. At the Pub four got out, and four dogs, including the dog that had to get to the vets. Last we saw of them, they were legging it across the field, behind the Pub. The bloke in front stayed put, and then said “We’ll go and get the other two now then?” “No”, I protested. “One of them is injured and can’t walk far; I’ll give yhew £20”, he said quickly. I waited until he gave me the £20. All I wanted to do was get back to Twig, and tell him what had happened, but I couldn’t ring him as his phone was in the front of the van. Got to go back that direction anyway, I thought. I’ll tell Twig and get the other two.
On the way back, the other two and their dogs were running across the fields towards us. I kept going, picked up Twig and picked them up on the way back. Twig was standing outside the Church looking somewhat bewildered, with the Vicar’s phone, trying to ring home to get his number, so he could ring his own phone. Twig opened the back to put the road signs in, and saw all the rest of the stuff covered in blood, and a strange bloke sitting in the passenger seat. What must he have thought! Twig said “what’s happened”, blatantly confused. “Don’t worry I’ll tell you later.”
I picked the other two up, and the dogs, and dropped them at the Pub. Thank God for that, I thought with a big sigh of relief. Back to the headquarters there were cries of, “where have you all been?” Most people had now left. Up until now, I had been ok, but by now I could do with a stiff drink. The shock of what could have happened and the realisation of what had just transpired slowly began to sink in. I had driven about two hundred miles that weekend, and it cost £20 to get the van cleaned. The cleaners were a bit shocked when they looked inside and saw mud and blood everywhere. Mind you, not many people get paid to get hijacked! So the weekend wiped its face as they say.
So, when you all go up to help at this year’s race (please let (S), David Muir, know ASAP ) and be careful.