By Mike Peake
Just in case you weren’t aware, WE WON AN AWARD!!! More on that later though in its proper place. Sorry but I’m still excited that WE WON AN AWARD!
I wasn’t able to make set up on Thursday due to not having much leave left. However, I hid in the beer barrel for a while when I got there on Friday and got all the gossip as the rest of the group chatted freely without realising I was there. You see, the chaps are starting to wise up and realise that everything stupid that they say and do WILL be used against them in the subsequent blog. Therefore I am having to take ever more drastic measures to get the scoop. Hence hiding in the Everard’s beer barrel.
Of course, when Gar got it to the NEC, Super Enthusiast Man Gus Brooks was there to save the day. Yes, the beer barrel started immediately, leaving Gar and Nick very red faced and claiming it must have been the damp. I guess now would be a good time to give you a bit of the history behind this unique vehicle.
WE WON AN AWARD! (Ed. Yes Mike, they know, but you haven’t reached that part of the story yet!) Sorry. Where was I? Oh yes, the beer barrel.
Well it was originally built on a Morris J2 chassis and running gear for Whitakers of Halifax and promoted their “Cock o’ the North” brand (Stop sniggering!) before moving onto a wine company and finally ending its working life at Everards Brewery. Fast forward to 2011. The finance boffins at Everards noticed that they’d been paying a farmer a monthly fee for a number of years but no one could remember why. When they went to investigate, they rediscovered the beer barrel languishing in a barn. Yes. This actually is a proper “Barn find”. It was in a bit of a sorry state, so Everards pulled it out from the farmers barn and delivered it to the National Brewery Centre.
The museum has a team of volunteers who were very keen to get to work on the van and have worked hard on restoring it back to its former glory. The project has taken over 5 years with the volunteers working on it once a week every week. They have done Everards proud and they now have a fully running, fantastic looking, unique publicity vehicle. The Barrel is now on permanent loan and displayed at, the National Brewery Centre. (Unless Everards need it.)
This fantastic vehicle caused a bit of a stir with the show-going public but especially with the chaps on the Morris J2 Register stand. Before the show, they knew nothing about this vehicle for the 30 years they’ve been running the register and boy were they excited! They were asking lots and lots of questions and clambering all over and under the barrel, taking pictures and finding the chassis plate. I think they spent more time on our stand than they did their own.
Of course, this wasn’t the only stir on the stand. Dave Youngs of Lancaster Insurance caused a bit of a flap too when he bought a couple of tickets for the awards dinner and insisted that we be represented at the event. Well, Gar had a taxiing job at stupid o’clock on Saturday morning so he wasn’t up to it and no one else had bought the posh frocks that are necessary at such events. In the end, Nick Arthur and I took one for the team and said we’d go.
Not having a posh frock wasn’t my only issue though. You see, I had been invited to stay in Windy Towers this weekend. I was to have the impressive mobile suite fitted with every luxury your sophisticated chap around town could possibly need. (Of course I mean me!! Cheek!) It even had staff quarters in a small brick building at the other end of the drive where the aromatic butler and long suffering Housekeeper would prepare a breakfast of kings for me in the morning. Unfortunately, it would prove a bit difficult to get to after a free bar at the awards dinner. There was nothing else for it, I would have to slum it in the spare room of Gus’s AirBnB. The things I have to do for this club!
It was now 7pm and I should have been at the event but I was still on the bus heading for the car park for a quick spray of deodorant and a splash of aftershave and didn’t get to the Hilton (told you it were posh) until 7.20. The only door that remained open to the hall happened to be right down the front next to the stage, which, to my utter horror already contained eminent people giving speeches. My utter horror was elevated even more utterly when I realised that table 25 was in the diametrically opposite corner from where I was standing.
Well there was nothing else for it so, as surreptitiously as a fat bloke can, I waded through the tightly packed tables and chairs. Needless to say it wasn’t very surreptitious at all and was accompanied by many utterances of “excuse me”, “sorry”, “can I just…” as well as the scraping of chairs, much tutting and a loud gasp. (I am so sorry Madam!)
Much to my relief, when I reached the table The four Scotsmen from the TR register and Nick who had already made themselves comfy on table 25, were drinking beer. This left a full, unopened bottle of wine just for me. I poured myself a large one and relaxed.
The evening progressed and after a very, very nice curry followed by cake, err… I mean gateaux. (Well it were posh weren’t it?) it was time for the awards. I have to admit, my hopes weren’t high after our previous experiences of awards dinners, so imagine our surprise when we heard our Group name called out. I carefully made my way to the front through the tightly packed tables and chairs again to graciously receive our award with dignity and to polite applause from the audience.
Oh who am I kidding, people were diving over tables to get out of my way and the remaining tables and chairs seemed to fly aside like the parting of the red sea as I ran to the stage shouting “in your face!” to the runners up and air punching like a hooligan.
Well OK, maybe that’s not strictly true either, but by some means, that probably fell somewhere between the two methods above, I got my hands on the award and I was jolly pleased.
Oh yes, What was the award for? It was the “Sponsors Award for the group of cars that they would most like to take home” and when they were announcing us as the winners, special mentions were made of Apollo, the Everards Barrel and the Vauxhall VX 490, which Dave Youngs of Lancaster Insurance would “Give his right arm” for. I thought that would be a bit silly of him as it’s not an automatic.
I have no idea who else won what as we were celebrating with my full bottle of wine and laughing at Nick who was reduced to minesweeping unopened bottles of beer on other tables as he and the 4 Scotsmen had drunk all of ours. I’m sure there must be a website with the list of winners somewhere though. (Click here to see the list)
The evening wound up and our carriages arrived to take us home. Well Gus picked me up in my CRV and took me back to the AirBnB where, to my horror, I discovered that Phil Alin was also staying. Long term readers will know that Phil is a very, very bad man who leads me astray and always makes me drink far more alcohol than I am comfortable with.
This was no exception and we were up until the early hours “celebrating” because WE WON AN AWARD!!
To be continued…
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