Jennospot 30 Down the Zigzag
This weekend Oi'm finkin' o' all them kids racin' their carts in the All-American Soap Box Derby. Excitin' ain't it? Bit nostalgic too. (Noice word that, "nostalgic" don't yew fink?) Any'ow, back in 1940 we done fings a bit different. In any case, it weren't old Adolf Hitler wot was a-goin' ter stop us racin' our carts. So ter celebrate the All-American soap boxes, 'ere's a description of a race down inter a gravel quarry near where we lived. We called the track the "Zigzag", 'cos that's wot it was. Oi come in fifth, wot weren't bad fer a beginner; Oi beat Peter at any rate. 'Old on ter yer 'ats, 'cos it ain't really quite loike wot they do in the All-American:
We took off down the track in a flurry of furious punting. Everybody wanted to be first into the narrow part. But JJ, Roy and Reenie, with their longer, stronger legs, got there first. I was close behind, with Itchyprick and Stinky alongside. Winnie was just behind me. Jenno, much the smallest, brought up the rear.
We rounded the first bend in the same order. I tried to force Itchyprick and Stinky to the outside to let Winnie through on the inside. They were slightly too far ahead for this to work.
On the straight, it was only possible to put in a punt now and again to maintain speed. Winnie had an advantage here. Her Blue Flash with its big wheels rolled easily over the rough places, but Itchyprick and Stinky swerved from side to side to prevent her overtaking.
As the second hairpin came up I called: ‘On the inside Winnie.’ At the turn, I reached forward and grabbed the rear of Itchyprick's cart. I pulled it against my steering bar. We slid together to the outside of the turn. Winnie broadsided neatly through the gap.
‘How's that John!’ I cried.
I let go of Itchyprick and punted hard to get ahead of him and close the gap, but Jenno slipped through as well.
Itchyprick cursed and rammed me forcibly from behind. I slammed into the rocky wall on the left and spun to a standstill.
By the time I got moving again, everybody else was well ahead, but I punted solidly on towards the third hairpin.
JJ, Reenie and Roy, still closely bunched, rounded it in that order. Stinky and Winnie were somewhat behind. Jenno was on their heels. Winnie attempted to pass on the inside but Stinky obstructed her. This left room on the outside for Jenno to overtake Winnie.
Blue Flash had little advantage on the diminishing slope after the turn. Without further change in the running, everybody punted on to the finish.
Lightning is very manoeuvrable, so I gained slightly on Itchyprick through the final turn but couldn't catch him before the line.
The panting racers regrouped around the finish. The judges completed their calculations.
‘Result of the first race,’ announced Dismal finally. ‘JJ first with one point.’
The Mobsters cheered. The Lotters clapped politely.
‘Second Reenie, with two points.’
This time we cheered.
‘The others, in order of arrival are, Roy, three points; Stinky, four points; Jenno, five points; Winnifred, six points; Itchyprick, seven points.’
‘His name is John,’ I called.
Dismal smiled. ‘John Itchyprick, seven points.’
Itchyprick glared at me.
‘And last, but not the least of the
Lot,’ continued Dismal imperturbably, ‘Peter, eight points.’
‘That gives a total of nineteen points for the Lions Avenue Lot and seventeen points for the Pepper Mill Mob. I therefore declare the Mob, winners of the first race.’
The Mobsters cheered. the Lotters clapped politely.
‘We're going to have to do better than that in the second heat,’ declared Roy as we trudged back up the zigzag to the starting line. ‘Any ideas anybody?’
Gang Rivalry Chapter 9