It's tea-time Friday, the Scroots have kicked their last tyre and shoogled their last wheel, which means that those who passed can now start the 31st Philips Tour of Mull Rally this evening at 8:00pm.
One of the last men through Scrutineering was Eddie O'Donnell. Having decided at the very last minute to do the rally (so what else is new?), he didn't have time to prepare his own car. So he borrowed the Tunnock's Caramel Woofers car from Grant Fleming, installed his own engine, gearbox and differential, and finished the whole prep job this afternoon minutes before the Scroots shut the shop.
And there's more, Eddie lent his old gearbox to Bill Bonniwell who installed it in his Shed MkII. Remember, him? He was the newcomer who finished 6th o/a last year on only his 4th ever rally! Since then Bill has done a few forest rallies and is still using the same 'shell. This is not only surprising, its bluidy miraculous considering the old thing went baggy at the knees last year after one of the notorious Mull yumps and the shell creaked like the The Vital Spark in a heavy swell.
And there's even more. Eddie O'Donnell Snr is not co-driving for number 1 son having opted to sit beside Linda Allen (thereby increasing the likelihood of an O'Donnell finishing by 100%!) but is probably now wishing he hadn't. When Linda skelped her new Astra first time out on the Derwent Stages she returned home to get it repaired and repainted. She opted for a sickly shade of puce green – and then chose the same shade for matching team polo shirts. So if yoy see a rather large lime fruit walking towards you, don't worry, you haven't been drinking too much, it's just Eddie Snr.
Keeping it in the family way, if you'll pardon the expression are the MacFadyens. Maw and Paw (Mr and Mrs Gordon and Violet MacFadyen to you) are out together in the Escort, "We'll either go helluva well together or there'll be a divorce", says Gordon. Mrs Mac (Violent, to her friends!) has a couple of Post-It notes on the dashboard with essential reminders! Son Gordon is out with Mike Storrar in the Anglia and other son Paul is making his debut alongside Norman McPhail, so that's 4 MacFadyens on a family outing.
Linda Brown is back for more, running at number 144 in the Nova. First time on Mull last year she finished 68th o/a in the 1300cc machine. Upon looking at her start number this year she remarked, "There's a couple of drivers seeded in front of me who've never done anything before – both men!" Nice one Linda, go get 'em.
Here's a pub quiz teaser, name one competitor who has scored points as a driver AND a co-driver on a World Championship Rally. Ian Grindrod knows the answer – but it wasn't him.
There is absolutely no truth in the rumour that top seed Callum Duffy has allegedly already beaten two of last year's stage records. This was merely put about by jealous rivals.
Some folks never learn. Competitor Jim McDowall got his leg pulled last year about Scrutineering and competing. Well, he's at it again Scrutineering AND competing this year but at least he keeps his mechanical skills honed which is ideal for checking cars. He had to change the head gasket on his own Avenger on Wednesday before coming up to Mull when he found oil in its water.
John McKenzie was nearly a non-starter when the plumbed-in fire extinguisher went off at Scrutineering and was contemplating the carrying of two hand-held units in the car until finding out that Martin Healer carried a spare. They were last seen huddling over a price list and notepad. But why would Healer carry a spare? One wag suggested that he too had a habit of setting off his own fire exts.
John Cressey has got a full Proflex suspension kit on his Astra, "I had it last year too, but knew nothing about it. I now know what to do with it." Expect a big battle here between the ol'timers Cressey and Ian Grindrod, with Callum Guy who finished 4th last year and Daniel Harper who was fifth, both in Astras. Cressey actually got ahead of the youngsters on the Saturday afternoon before the car broke down.
Smallest car in the rally? Surely Willie Paterson's Daihatsu Avonzato Cuore Turbo. All 660cc that revs to 9,900 with a turbocharger and four wheel drive. You can't mistake it, it looks like Postman Pat's wee van with a sexy paint job.
Even the Polis enter into the spirit of things here. If you think the traffic cars are going kind of quick, it's because they are using the same Pace Notes as the rally crews. Wonder if they teach that at Police Driving School? I wonder if the boss knows??
The Rally starts to-night at 8:00 pm from the car park in Tobermory alongside the Philips Exhibition unit, but if you're intending to spectate on the stages, remember to get there early, before the Road Closures come into effect. Pick your spot and get there in plenty of time as it is actually aganst the law to drive or even to walk on the road after it has been closed. Then wait till the Road Opening Car comes through before venturing back out again.
Please also do as the Marshals instruct, they are there for your safety as well as competitors, and take care out there. When you've picked your spot and no-one is around, beware the tap on the shoulder in the dark, you may not be alone. This is Friday the 13th after all. If it's not a Highland Coo, it might be Freddy Kreuger – if you dare to turn round and look!
That's yer lot meantime, more guff to come. Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, Tobermory, Friday tea-time.