|With. all 12 competitive events
finished, there was only one event left on the calendar and that was the Championship
reception and dinner on 17 December. It was at this evening that Fords were to announce
the awards for the Championship winners and since they were footing: the bill for food,
drink and overnight accomodation at the Tower Hotel, we were determined not to miss it.
The evening started with us all meeting at
the Tower Hotel to check in to our rooms before taking taxis over to a champagne reception
at Fords lavish premises at Grafton St. Graham Robson had stressed the
importance of being at Grafton St. at 7pm sharp, as the top brass would take a dim view of
being kept waiting, so we duly turned up on the steps of the hotel at 6.30 to pick up a
taxi, only to find about 50 people trying to do the same thing - and not a taxi in sight.
Someone had forgotten to order the taxis.
By 6.45, it was obvious that most
of us were not going to get to Grafton St by midnight by this method and one of the
doormen at the hotel was persuaded to divert the hotel courtesy bus to drop us at Grafton
St. By 6.50 we were all safely aboard the bus and set off at a smart pace. At
least we wouldnt be more than 10 mins late. We should have known better.
Quarter of an hour later, fighting our way through the evening traffic, it suddenly dawned
on us that we had already driven down this street before. It turned out that, whilst our
trusty driver isnt exactly lost, he is not sure where Grafton St is located and
Londons one way system had seen to the rest. A hurried consultation on the bus
established that, with approximately 10 so-called navigators aboard, no-one possessed a
map or knew where Grafton St was.
However, just to prove that
trial-and-error works in the end, we finally arrived at Grafton St at 735, expecting
a blast of wrath from Graham and, even more frightening, from John (Taylor). In fact there
was such a crowd in the reception, busily pouring champagne down their throats, that
hardly anyone noticed our arrival - rather an anti-climax !
The formal part of the evening
began a short while later, with a presentation of the championship awards, each girl
getting a souvenir candlestick with Ford Faberge Championship engraved on it.
In addition to the awards, it was also announced that Geunda, the
Championship Winner, would be driving a Ford Fiesta next year in the saloon car
championship and Louise, judged the most promising rallyist, would be driving a Ford
Fiesta in a number of international rallies.
With the formalities over, we
were all bundled into coaches and driven over to Bennetts night club in Battersea
where we would spend the rest of the evening. This started with a lavish meal, written in
French of course, which only meant that I didnt know what I was eating until it was
put in front of me. After dinner and several bottles of wine we had gained enough courage
to venture forth onto the dance floor. Our reluctance was due to the fact that the dance
floor at Bennetts consisted of plate glass sheets suspended over a tank of live
pirahna fish and some of them were cracked (the glass not the fish). Still we
managed to survive the evening and were eventually bundled (or tipped) into the waiting
coaches. My sole recollection of this drive was of John (Taylor) bawling instructions into
the unfortunate ear of the driver- " 90 left
. GO, GO, GO !
Still we got back to the Hotel in one piece and .after an abortive effort to rouse the
night porter into supplying us with more booze, we retired to our respective beds- or some
of us anyhow.
But that is another story !!!