The plan was simple. If the French could get away with banning our beef,
Dial-a-Cab's intrepid team of underground warriors would extract revenge
on behalf of the British nation by selecting some of this country's finest
wine, taking it over to la belle France and proving once and for all that
French Beaujolais is just a hyped up version of Sarson's Malt! Our
country's name was at stake and if we could get some publicity for DaC on
the way, well that would be useful too!
The day started at the unearthly hour of 04.00 on the cold, wet morning of November 16th in the reception of the Holiday Inn at Maidenhead.
At exactly 4.35, three heavily logo'd Dial-a-Cab taxis left in convoy led by Jim Rainbird (T25) - with his passengers Brian Rice and Allen Togwell - Allen Evans (Y83) was second with yours truly keeping the passenger seat warm and Marshal Mike Harris (F79) holding up the rear of the convoy with our marketing people on board ready to sort out the awaiting press corps.
The first stop was to be the Old Luxters Vineyard in Hambledon (near Marlow in Bucks), where we would pick up the four crates of Chiltern Valley Special Vintage that our intrepid heroes were to deliver to both the UK and Paris. The bottles also bore the Dial-a-Cab name for this special occasion with the words 1999 Alternative Wine Run. We were due there at 05.00 but arrived ten minutes late due to an unscheduled diversion around Henley instigated by Jim Rainbird who liked the one way system so much that we visited it twice! Fine in the hot weather - especially during Regatta week - but not so brilliant when it's cold, dark and damp!
But we eventually arrived at David Ealand's wonderful wine producing vineyard to be welcomed by the local press - not to mention hot drinks and rolls. At the still unearthly hour of 05.40, Brian did the first of several interviews - this one with News Direct 97.3FM - an interview that was to be broadcast many times throughout the day.
Old Luxters was bought in the early 80's from a pig farmer and turned into a vineyard that produced over 120,000 bottles in its first decade.
Off They Go
DIAL-A-CAB OUT-BEAUJOLAIS THE FRENCH
or Dial-a-Cab Fait Son Livraison du Vin Anglais
|be adjudged the winner and be
presented with his choice of prize - an all-expenses paid, eight week
round-the-world cruise on the QE2 or a silver plated corkscrew. As no one
had remembered to book the holiday, they would have to settle for the
corkscrew! Wisely, they decided to drive in convoy so Brian Rice kept the
But back to 6.15... Leaving in nasty conditions with the persistent drizzle now joined by some fog, Marshall Mike led us out and immediately turned left instead of right and the three London taxis started their long Parisian haul by having to do U-turns while the press cars drove past in amazement having turned right!
Before Paris, there was a thirty minute trip to the first wine drop-off, the magnificent National Trust grounds and hotel of Clivedon where the beverage manager Dennis Machin had been eagerly awaiting his Chiltern Valley. Leaving Clivedon at 7.03, the meters showed £35.80 and the next stop was to be Folkestone and Le Shuttle.
Enter The Beeb
|land line had to be found. While
there, yet more trips to l'hommes where a woman was mopping around the
urinals and wishing us bonjour! An hour later we left. French time was now
1.40pm and we still had 185 miles to go just to get to Paris - let alone
deliver the wine! £348.40 now showing. As there was a garage handy, the
drivers filled up with Gazole (diesel) at 48p per litre (5.5F). UK fuel
rip-off or what...!
Paris Here We Come...
Copyright © 1999 Dial-A-Cab Ltd, All rights reserved.