By David Love
It was a dark, wet and windy night but John’s 12 Car hadn’t been canceled so I arrived in Gretna to marshal in waterproof trousers only to have Caroline mutter something about incontinence and men of a certain age and offering me a couple of elastic bands. Amazingly there were more than enough marshals & 6 1/2 competitors. Phil Jobson was looking for a volunteer to do the rally with him. He must have been desperate cos he took me as a driver, which was preferable to me being a passenger and puking in his car. He wasn’t sure himself how long his stomach would last and that if John had set the route to sort the men from the boys he was definitely one of the latter. He needn’t have worried, as I’m not a competitive person, just want to enjoy myself.
We were a bit slow on the first section with not having a lot of time to get sorted in the car and then stopping to plot the out of bounds and quiet zones before getting going but we got to the first Control before some of the later runners, so that was a great start as far as I was concerned. At this point in a report there would be a rundown of the route, no chance! I didn’t know where the hell I was going or had been. Can’t say I cared either, just glad to avoid walls, ditches and hedges. I just went where I was told. Phil said turn right, I turned right, he said turn left, I turned left most times. I remember hitting several big puddles that turned into walls of water washing straight over the car, couldn’t see anything at all out of the windscreen for a second or two. Phil felt he needed air at one point so put the window down, you know where this is going, don’t you? Yes, we hit a big puddle and even I got splashed. I had my doubts that buying a car with silver grey leather seats wasn’t one of my smarter moves and the next morning I realised I was correct. The back seat was peppered with brown splodges and even the inside of the rear screen had caught it. Lesson one learned!
Phil did a great job of getting us to the right controls the right way until the 2nd last section when even working together we couldn’t plot it! Why? We didn’t read the instruction properly! Lesson two learned. It read “Via 7 crossings and 1 touch of the national grid” We read it as 2 separate instructions and I convinced Phil that it meant 7 water crossings. You wouldn’t believe how many streams are in that area. So we decided to cut our losses, take the shortest route to the next control and ended up approaching WD. The last section plotted ok but was long and on some real nadgery roads. Caroline used delaying tactics by sending us back up the road into a farmyard and a dead end forest road looking for a marker that didn’t exist. I was starting to feel a bit off by then so we slowed & arrived too late at the last control. I decided to give going to the Finish a miss and headed home for an Alka Selzer. Sorry to disappoint you, Geoffrey and Caroline, I’m sure you had one or two caustic comments lined up.
Thanks to John for an interesting and enjoyable route on my first and probably last 12 Car.
Thanks also to Phil for getting me into the middle of nowhere and then back to civilisation while keeping his tea where it belonged.