Sunday, 30 January 2011

Mountain Glide

Jennospot 13  The Mountain Glide

This is my thirteenth blog, so terday Oi’m goin’ ter give yew somefink wiv thirteen in it. An’ guess wot? Chapter thirteen of Gang Warfare ‘as got a cart race in it; so that’s wot yew’re goin’ ter get. It were a race down a gravel pit that ain’t been used fer a long toime. We call it the Mountain Glide. It’s our favourite racin’ place. ‘Ere we go then, down the Mountain Glide, loike it or not:

As we approached the Mountain Glide we saw that we were not the only ones planning to race down the steep quarry-side. Four members of The Street gang, including the Haflin twins, were already there with three carts. Their greeting was not friendly.
‘Wot you doin' 'ere?’ they asked truculently. ‘Clear off.’
‘Clear off yourselves,’ retorted Roy, ‘This is our cart run.’
‘No it ain't! Yew don't own it.’ they replied. ‘Anyone wot wants can race 'ere.’
‘All right,’ said Roy. ‘If it's racing you want we'll race you.’
‘Yew race?’ came the sneering reply as the Streeters eyed our carts disdainfully. ‘With those stupid soap boxes? Yew couldn't race a tortoise with the gout.’
‘We'll race you your three carts against three of ours, in three races,’ proposed Roy. ‘No holds barred. First past the post is the winner. If we win, two out of three, you'll promise not to come here again.’
The Streeters looked dismayed and went into a huddled conference from which they emerged with a condition.
‘We want a slalom race. Everyone has to go around the clumps of bushes on the slope the first clump round to the right, the second to the left, then the last to the right again. The finish line is to be alongside the stream at the bottom. One of our gang is to be the line judge at the finish. If we win, you'll give us all your bonfire material.’
Roy looked around at us. We all nodded.
‘Agreed,’ he said, ‘as long as one of us, Tommy here, is also a line judge. That okay with you Tommy?’
Tommy nodded.
‘We'll need a starter too,’ went on Roy. ‘How about you, Leta?’
Leta agreed. ‘We'll pull straws before each race for the order at the start line, alternately one of you then one of us,’ she said.
She scratched a long line with her toe in the dirt at the edge of the Mountain Glide: she had done this duty before.
‘Is everything clear?’ asked Roy.
‘Who's racin' on your side?’ asked one of the Haflins.
Roy looked at us. Everyone wanted to race and he knew it, but he and I had the fastest carts. Reenie's cart was good and so was Brian's if a little less manoeuvrable. The carts of Leta and Dismal were little more than wooden boxes on wheels, hardly suitable for racing.
‘I think it's between Reenie and Brian,’ said Roy.
There was silence for moment. I could see the two of them having an inner struggle. They both spoke at the same moment:
‘Reenie's already made a bet,’ said Brian gallantly.
‘It should be Brian,’ said Reenie simply.
Roy smiled. ‘Thank you Brian, for withdrawing. It'll give Reenie a chance to win her bet. Could you take Tommy down to the finish in your cart?’
‘I wanna go too,’ yelled Wikky. ‘I wanna ride down with Brian.’
‘Take Wikky with you as well,’ he added.
Wikky beamed, jumping up and down excitedly.
‘Dismal, you take the Streeter's line judge down with you. Just be careful not to tip him out on the way.’
Dismal grinned and set off with the Streeter, at an angle down the slope. Brian followed him, just behind.
As soon as the finish line judges waved to indicate that they were ready, the six carts were lined up at the start, alternately Streeter and Lions Avenue Lot.
I had done badly in the straw drawing. I was last on the right which gave me a disadvantage in turning round the first clump of bushes as I was on the outside and would have to go fast and turn sharply left after it in order to remain in a competitive position.
‘Everybody ready?’ asked Roy. ‘Okay Leta. We're under starter's orders now. Do your stuff.’
‘Everybody ready?’ repeated Leta. ‘The rules are as follows: The course is from here down to the finish line by the stream at the bottom, passing by the three clumps of bushes on the slope; the first clump is to be turned round to leave it on the left-hand, the second to the right-hand and the third on the left-hand; anyone who crosses the start line before I call go, is disqualified; the first past the post is the winner, best of three races; otherwise, no other rules. I will call ready; steady; go—. Are you ready― steady― go!’

Gang Warfare chapter 13)

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