War correspondents have a fairly hard life. Not only is there the constant depression of narrowly missing that Pulitzer they’ve been striving for, together with not knowing which battle scarred nation they’ll be reporting on from one week to the next; there’s also a fair likelihood of being shot at. This is an unlikely outcome when reporting on a civilised event like the Goodwood Festival of Speed; but there is still the rough to be taken with the smooth. Cushy hotel with en-suite and 24hr porterage? Dingy motel with stained sheets and a body in the pool? Nope. Not for me. Your humble Hooniverse field reporter brings his own shelter with him. You can’t tell me this isn’t living. I finished off at the Goodwood media centre last night at 19:30, half an hour after the doors were supposed to have been locked. I wanted to make the most of the on-off free WiFi connection to try and get the day’s posts buttoned down. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out. I just managed to get the McLaren post sent down the line and then it was lights out. To do everything I wanted to I knew I’d have to work long into the night. Of course, I had had plenty of time to book a hotel, but all those within a sensible distance of Goodwood were gripped by Festival Fever, and had consequently doubled their tariffs. Now, I’m a tight old bastard so I began to entertain the notion of hotels farther and farther out from my destination, eventually considering an airport motel 60 miles north. But then I factored in that I risked an hour long drive to Goodwood the next morning, which would mean a preposterously early start for a Sunday. I reached the decision that my car would be my room for the night, with the added bonus of an electrical supply and something musical to listen to. And so it was. After dining richly at McDonalds and visiting a 24hr supermarket for morning provisions, I set about roaming to try and find a quiet spot for the night. The UK, in contrast to the rest of Europe, is sparsely equipped for overnight rest stops. Germany in particular has a Rastplatz every couple of miles, with proper ceramic toilets and running water. In the UK you’ll be lucky to find a layby and a hedge to piss in. Fortunately, Goodwood finds itself in the area known as the South Downs, a picturesque and undulating chunk of England with plentiful picnic areas, so it was one of those that ended up being my home last night. All Rover 800s are obliged by law to carry a tartan blanket on the rear parcel shelf, and mine is no exception, so that was my eiderdown for the night. The day’s T-Shirt became my pyjama top, my jacket became a pillow and my passenger seat, fully reclined, was my bed. I had rigged up a charging system using a 230v inverter and daisy chained my phone to the laptop by USB, in the hope of charging both while the car was running- Nope. Can’t charge phone by USB. That means charging either one or the other. I elected to charge my phone; I could use Goodwood’s electricity tomorrow for the laptop. Last night’s final Goodwood post was posted entirely using the WiFi Hotspot feature of the phone, which has probably cost me a million pounds in data, but needs must. Posting that synchronised precisely with my Laptop coughing its last from the battery. After phoning Nicola to report that all was well and remind her that I love her (she would seriously hate it here and is far better off at home), I contorted myself into my sleeping position. It was agony, of course. No more so than in any other car, or plane, for that matter, but bloody uncomfortable. Those contours in the seats which work so well to keep me in place at the phenomenal cornering rates that late ’90s Rovers are capable of…….(pause for laughs)…..become the bane of your existence when trying to slumber, and you urge to be able to kick a hole in the firewall to stretch your legs. Still, it’s infinitely better than trying to sleep on a Ryanair jet. The night was punctuated by the comings and goings of various sinister (in my semi-conscious mind’s eye) vehicles, together with a violent temperature drop at about 2 AM. I did sleep, but there were a number of very strange dreams, one of which had me being scolded by Hayley Williams of Paramore because I couldn’t rap. She had sent the police out to get me and everything. I had set my phone’s alarm for 5:55 so I could get here at 6:30 when the car parks opened. Looking at my watch, as I type this it’s now 8:01. This is live, everybody. The day ahead looks to be pretty fricken awesome with all manner of incredible stuff being flung up the hillclimb, and if yesterday was anything to go by there might well be a few spills on the way. All of which I will do my all to cover properly. However; my internet connection seems to have crapped out completely, and my phone battery is depleting rapidly. If this is my last from Goodwood, thanks for sticking with it and I’ll follow up when I get home. Have a nice day. (Images Copyright 2014 Chris Haining / Hooniverse, though why you should want to use them I have no idea)
Goodwood 2014: Tales from Suite 825
RoadworkUK is the online persona of Gianni Hirsch, a tall, awkward gentleman with a home office full of gently decomposing paper and a garage full of worthless scrap metal. He lives in the village of Moistly, which is a safe distance from London and is surrounded by enough water and scenery to be interesting. In another life, he has designed, sold, worked on and written about cars in exchange for small quantities of money.