It felt like it had snowed this morning, along the Kennington Road, or Christmas had come early, as Londoners stepped out of their isolated boxes, stopped to stare and wave and spontaneously lined the 159 bus route. A man on a Penny Farthing came by in a top hat and then, interspersed with our awful, boring modern cars, a succession of the most glorious Chitti-Chitti-Bang-Bangs you have ever seen rattled past. What a wonderful sight, on the way to the shops, of just a snippet of today’s London to Brighton vintage car run. What proof that it’s always difference that makes us smile, like a snow shower, or a turn in the weather. Enthusiasts are their own lunatic breed, these decked out in time appropriate kit, riding some truly remarkable Heath Robinson machines, all polished up as though for an inspection of the Royal Navy – if we had one anymore. But no sour grapes, we have these.
Some of the cars were quite extraordinary, popping and spitting, shuddering and banging, hissing and bone-rattling, especially the one with no front end at all, so that four people sat face to face, two by two, not constrained by the straight-line inevitability of our tedious tarmaced roads. It would have had a field day on the curling drive of some big country house, in search of a spontaneous picnic. Most were open-topped, on a rather grey and chilly morning, but magnificent men and women were sheathed in woollens, flying jackets or barbers, patterned rugs around their knees, and wearing Biggles hats, many complete with fake moustaches. English, Welsh, even a French flag sprouted from the Brassoed fenders and in the middle of London the proud owners were waving back like the Queen. Oh, the glory of the age, although these cars spanned several decades, of those amazing eccentric and incredibly un-environmentally friendly machines and ahead, the wonder of the open road to Brighton. You half expected to see Toad come by, ‘Poop Pooping’, or truly scrumptiously striped fenders to open like magic fans and the whole, wonderful lot to take to the air. ‘Hi-ho vintage London to Brighton – we love you!’