It's not a long cab ride from Hyde Park to the Club, but I'm convinced that I gave a fairly complete performance of nearly all the content found on the other pages of this web site during the trip. Happily, and not surprisingly, "Genevieve" is a favorite film in the Hawley household, and so we traded lines and incidents from the film back and forth. I recounted nearly every obscure anecdote about the film I could recall. I do remember imitating Dinah Sheridan imitating Key Kendall complaining to Henry Cornelius on the set. You would have to check with my audience to see if they were held spellbound… or merely held captive.
The Royal Automobile Club was an imposing building lit with massive flaming torches every fifteen feet or so. The affair was exclusive, the setting magnificent, and the Yank had no ticket, so a plot was hatched to sneak him in.

In point of fact, two plots were hatched around this time.

Have you got a ride?" David Potts asked me.
I responded that I did. I'd hired a car and driver to pick me up after the start of the Run, take me to a couple of stops along the route, and then to Brighton to see the finish.

"No," said David, "I mean, do you have a ride? We'll see if we can get you a ride."

Clive negotiated my entrance to the party. As I shook hands with members of the welcoming committee, I felt as if I were crashing someone's wedding. I was handed a glass of champagne and set about the serious business of looking like I belonged.

I was well into the process of failing miserably at this - though having a marvelous time - when I was introduced to Mary Ellam.

Who's Mary Ellam?

Think of that snippet of film where the then-only-locally-famous Beatles play The Cavern. Now think of the beautiful blonde in the crowd. That would have been Mary. (Mary may not actually be in that film clip, but when she later told me that she had seen The Beatles at The Cavern, I could easily picture her there.)  You'll be pleased to know that she's still a smashing beauty with a wry wit and a knack for being where the good times are.

I'm guessing that poor Mary had been somewhat pressured to meet me, thanks to the ad hoc efforts of the organization conspiring to 'get me a ride.' Had I known this, I would have tried to be fascinating, which doubtless would have killed the entire effort then and there. However, Mary had charm and presence enough for both of us, and in just a few minutes, Mary became the newest member in my group of less-than-an-hour-old old friends.

Bill and Mary Ellam
with unexpected guest
It was at this point - I think - that the details of the plot were disclosed. Mary would be in her '03 Darracq in the Run, and, save for the Tonneau cover and a bag or two, the back seat was empty. Being in the run… actually riding in one of the veteran cars for the 60-odd miles from London to Brighton… was something that had never even occurred to me as a possibility. It suddenly became a possibility when Mary went to check with her husband.

He said yes.

Bill Ellam is the lucky guy who's married to Mary. As it turned out, I would spend the best part of the next day - and, not coincidentally, one of the best days of my life - looking quite literally over Bill's shoulder from London to Brighton. Bill was kind, instructive, patient, and completed the Run with grace. He’s fun to be with; he knows his cars and knows the Run. To say that he's generous and gracious might seem to be stating the obvious, but, as we say here in America, "do the math."

My view of the scenery from London to Brighton - framed by Mary and Bill.
Because, after all, this is not simply inviting someone to occupy a place of honor in the back seat of your beautiful veteran car.    
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