Sunday, 17 April 2011

Cart Racing

Jennospot 23  Cart Racing

“Gang Warfare” as jus' been put out on Amazon Kindle by Peter St John. I don' reckon it's one of 'is best, 'cos there ain't nuffink much about me in it. Instead, 'ee goes on an' on about that prissy Penelope Garman, wiv 'er ferget-me-not eyes, wot ain't 'ardly never let out of the 'ouse 'cept ter go ter chapel. Cripes, roight stuck on 'er 'ee were. Any'ow, ter get away from that subject, Oi thought yew moight loike ter 'ear a bit about a cart race. 'Ere it is:

The straw-pulling for the order of the line-up could have been in our favour, for it placed Reenie at the extreme right which could have been perfect for a swooping run, but at the ‘go’, the Streeter on her left deliberately rammed her and they spun together just three yards from the start.
Matters were not better elsewhere, for the four remaining carts locked together at the first turn and came to rest in a cloud of dust in the middle of the turn. Reenie and her opponent broadsided into us to make a compact stationary knot.
We all sorted ourselves out, more or less at the same moment, to roll together in a confusion of shouting, running, pushing and punting, round the second turn.
We entered the final turn in a tight mass. Here there was another series of collisions until the scene resembled a battleground rather than a race. I was forced hard into the bushes and only escaped by rolling off Lightning at the last moment as she plunged into the brambles. I saw Roy rolling over and over behind me as Sprinter continued on in my direction.
‘Take her, take her!’ yelled Roy.
I leaped aboard Sprinter and with furious punting, headed her into the final straight.
There was a Streeter just on my left and another on my right, both punting as hard as they could go. I could also hear someone punting just behind me but didn't look to see who it was. My object was to stay ahead of the field. This race was going to be won on the ability to punt and there were still about a hundred and fifty yards to cover.
I was small, but fortunately Sprinter was light and ran easily. So we punted desperately on, our breath becoming more and more laboured. The finishing line began to loom close. I was still a short neck in the lead.
I saw the Streeter on my left glance in my direction. The expression on his face was unmistakeable: he was going to ram me to leave the field clear for his team-mate on my other side. There was nothing I could do to avoid this. If I veered right to avoid him, I would collide with his team-mate, leaving him a clear run to the line.
Suddenly there was a grinding noise behind me and a shocked look of surprise on the face of my opponent on the left as he veered sharply to his left. He plunged over the edge of the stream bank and into the water. He had been rammed by whoever was just behind me.
My remaining opponent and I punted on neck and neck. The finish line loomed up, none too soon, as I was almost at my last gasp with punting. We rattled over together. I collapsed panting onto Sprinter, letting her run on, heedless of where she stopped: there were no obstacles ahead. I heard Tommy shouting gleefully and Wikky crowing. Had I won then?
I rolled off Sprinter onto my back and gazed up at the sky, my chest heaving. For a few enchanted seconds, I watched the translucent blood cells floating around inside my eyeballs against the blue of the infinite.
I sat up and gazed back towards the finish line. Everybody seemed to be converging towards it. I stood up, and gathering the reins of Sprinter, walked towards the group.
Reenie was standing on the stream bank wringing out the hem of her skirt. So it was she who had rammed the Streeter on my left. This unfortunate was squelching towards the finish, looking dejected and very wet indeed.
As I arrived at the group, Roy appeared from the other side towing Lightning. We exchanged reins and grins.
‘Nice little cart, Sprinter,’ I said.
‘Yeah, ain't she,’ agreed Roy. ‘Now what's going on here?’
Tommy and the Streeter's line judge were gesticulating at one-another and shouting, ‘We won, we won!’
‘No you didn't, we crossed the line first.’
‘No― it was us!’
Objections were also being raised by the Streeters that Roy and I cheated by changing carts in mid-race. We pointed out that there was no rule forbidding this.
The arguments could have gone on a long time and could even have become violent had Roy not intervened. ‘Suppose we call it a tie?’ he proposed, ‘As far as I'm concerned I'm happy we all finished without anyone being killed.’

 ("Gang Warfare" Chapter 13 – Amazon Kindle)

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