Yesterday I went to London. It was exactly 77 weeks to the Friday in March 2020, and once again I was lunching in a London club and once again, the Saturday morning following my exertions was surrounded by the miasma of the unkempt and a large dollop of Hors de Combat. It is the price you pay for a very jolly lunch, but stuff my old boots and call me Nancy, it took forever to get there! The 51 miles from Didcot to Paddington managed to take almost 100 minutes. The 60-mile journey back to Hungerford, to attend a delicious and equally jolly dinner in Lambourn, also took 95 minutes, both of them at least 40 minutes longer than advertised and entirely down to people not working. The taxis worked fine – but then there was nothing on the road. Oxford Street on a Friday in August was like a Sunday in November at 8:00 in the morning. Not deserted exactly, but certainly not buzzing. Many shops weren’t open at all, Molton Street had a brace of semi-busy cafes, and a few shop keepers standing in doorways looking hopeful. Seeing tumbleweed would have been unsurprising.
There’s no point in complaining about the transport system because the reality is no one cares anymore. The average citizen can see that providing you follow the script, no one will get sacked for incompetence and no one will go to prison. A Health Trust can accidentally kill as many people as it likes; the police and prison service can lose dozens in cells; in fact, any state-led organisation can cock-it-up big-time, and all they have to do is learn the three-step “Who Cares Cha Cha Cha”. In Step One you say: “Firstly our hearts go out to….” then in Step Two: “We’re sorry that a flawed system led to this sad event …. ” and finally Step Three, “… valuable lessons have been learned and new systems are already being put into place to ensure this cannot happen again” With Covid, of course, we don’t even have to take those three steps. Now you attack the critic for not realising there is a global pandemic and that you, “… you selfish bastard, don’t care about the millions of lives that have already been lost by people doing whatever it is you’re complaining about.”
Clarkson is right. We’ve regressed. There was a time when we took pride in being able to send David Frost to New York in 4½ hours. Agatha Christie’s heroes could take the midnight flyer to Inverness, have dinner in the Manse and solve a murder in the same length of time that the train now takes to get to Carlisle. We could take a ferry to France and a man in a Kepi wouldn’t even bother to remove the Boyard en Mais from his lips, glance through his filthy cabin glass and your filthy car window at your passports and the three children in the back and simply wave you through; a family flic might even say “Bon Vacance.” I can remember as a child, taking an overnight sleeper train from Calais to Nice, arriving to see the Humber Hawk being unloaded from the car transporter wagon. When we fly anywhere it is at least 5% slower than it was in the 1960s. A modern cargo ship travels at 12-15 knots – The Cutty Sark tea clipper sailed at 14-17 knots and often as fast as 22 knots. If you broke down, a man from the AA would arrive on a bike, salute you, fix your car and you’d be on your way before John Buchan could think of a plot as to why you’d broken down at Beachy Head.
Back in the day we went faster, higher, further and took pride in it. We built things that worked and we had engineers and scientists to drive the R&D that created those futures. Now we’re doomed by Greta’s mindless henchmen to go slower, shorter, lower. Even the Tea Clipper is a non-starter as it is made from unsustainable wood or steel or some other right-on tosh. On current form, I fear my next trip to London will take three weeks and I’ll get a lentil soup and a fermented goat’s milk Lassi, with the alcoholic content of Network Rail coffee. Still and all, at least I won’t feel like I do this morning.
As if that fear weren’t enough, I’m now beginning to worry that my tips are going slower than they did back in March 2020! Here are today’s suggestions.
1:50 GOODWOOD tote Prestige Stakes (G3) Cl1 (2yo) 7f ITV4 11 Run
HELLO YOU Win – WILDERNESS GIRL e/w
2:05 BEVERLEY William Hill Silver Cup Hcap Cl2 (3yo 0-105) 1m2f ITV4 7 Run
BARN OWL Win
2:25 GOODWOOD tote Quadpot Starts Here Hcap Cl2 (3yo+) 7f ITV4 10 Run
ESCOBAR Win – KIMFIVE e/w
2:45 NEWMARKET (JULY) Close Brothers Hopeful Stakes Cl1 (3yo+) 6f ITV4 10 Run
ROYAL SCIMITAR Win
3:00 GOODWOOD tote March Stakes (G3) (In Memory Of John Dunlop) Cl1 (3yo) 1m6f ITV4 5 Run
NAGANO Win – to beat CLASSIC LORD 1pt SFC
3:15 BEVERLEY William Hill Beverley Bullet Sprint Stakes Cl1 (3yo+) 5f ITV4 12 Run
JUDICIAL – SIGNIFICANTLY Dutch Win
3:35 GOODWOOD tote Celebration Mile (G2) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m ITV4 10 Run
CHINDIT Win – HAPPY POWER e/w