And at my table I found myself seated beside Vintage Sports Car Club friends, of course potty as a box of frogs, as one would expect of the VSCC. The Joker was explaining how he’d struggled technically to do all his own make-up – as a charming waitress leaned in to ignite the fuse of the chocolate bomb in his dish. Sparklers and indoor fireworks flared, the music began to thump, almost time to leave.
But it did remind me of bygone fun with VSCC luminaries. As at the 1908-2008 Centenary of the first Mercedes victory in the French Grand Prix at Dieppe. I was there to show some films and make a presentation for Daimler-Benz, who were running their 1908 cars around the old 62-mile Dieppe circuit, and we bumped into a totally independent VSCC group with their own cars doing the self-same thing. With the agreement of the German management we invited them to join the D-B dinner that night, as one would, and they did – pitching up at the hotel with everyone – yes, girls as well – all wearing painted-on Kaiser Wilhelm moustaches… The Merc men blinked, and roared mit laughter - Englischer Humor indeed…
And in the roundabout centrepiece lily pond outside, floated four wooden wheels from an early Sunbeam, swelling the timber nicely to tighten the dried-out and loosened spokes… There’s a swag of knowledge within the VSCC.
And that reminded me of a lovely story starring bygone Club worthy ‘Jumbo’ Goddard. This larger-than-life enthusiast’s car collection included a D-Type Jaguar, the world’s fastest vintage Bentley – an 8-litre engine in a 4 1/2-litre frame, and equipped with two turbochargers “for extra zest” – and a Bugatti Type 51 amongst others. ‘Jumbo’ as a young man had sailed before the mast on a tall ship around Cape Horn. He had made a small fortune on the New Guinea gold dredge and had been mate to Captain Alan Villiers on the replica ‘Mayflower’ in her 1957 maiden voyage across the Atlantic, 337 years after the original Mayflower, when they beat her predecessor's time by 13 days. ‘Jumbo’ never war socks, and his trousers were habitually held up by a length of rope. You get the picture?