A trip to Bangor hospital – evo archive
Henry Catchpole relives his trip to Bangor with a wounded photographer and a TVR
‘He probably needs a quiet night. He also shouldn’t drink alcohol and he shouldn’t operate any heavy machinery.’
Those were the sage words of the nurse who handed legendary photographer Kenny P back to us with a few stitches in his head. A third of the suggestions were adhered to…
It was back in 2005 and Anglesey Circuit looked rather different. It was a much smaller track, just a mile in length, and charmingly scruffy, but it had some great corners and you could learn a lot about a road car on its bumpy, undulating layout. It was also cheap, which pleased editorial director Harry Metcalfe.
We were there for evo’s first ever Road and Track Car test (issue 081), which pitted 13 contenders, ranging from a Radical SR4 to a Noble M400, via a Westfield XI, against each other on, yes, road and track. Apart from the Grinnall Scorpion being marginally trickier to handle than its arachnid namesake, the first day went fairly smoothly. The second didn’t.
The first I knew that something was wrong was when editor-at-large Dickie Meaden went charging out onto the circuit as though he was late for a free lunch. Kenny had been lolling out of the back of a Mitsubishi Evo preparing to do some tracking shots and unfortunately the gaffer tape holding open the bewinged bootlid hadn’t held. Like a poorly adjusted guillotine the bootlid had swung down and struck Kenny on the back of the head, whereupon blood had been quick to bubble up.
Mostly so that he didn’t throttle road test assistant John Hayman (who had been full of assurances about his gaffer tape skills…) Kenny was shipped off to hospital in Bangor where someone set about him with needle and thread. The rest of us finished up at the track before the older and wiser members of staff headed home in most of the weatherproof cars, leaving the younger contingent to bring back things such as the Westfield and Grinnall the following day.
They kindly also left us with an M3 and a bright orange TVR Sagaris and it was in these that we headed to Bangor later in the evening to find food and Kenny P. With the nurse’s instructions ringing in our ears, we headed into town and found a restorative curry. Then it was decided that the night was young and so were we, so a club was in order. Somewhere with a sticky dance floor was located and upon further inspection it turned out that a ‘chav’ fancy dress night was in full swing. To this day I have never seen so much Burberry in one place, not even in a Burberry store.
At some point in the evening it was realised that there had been a miscalculation. Two designated drivers were needed but only Chee-Chiu Lee (evo’s art editor at the time) was sober. And Kenny. What I can’t quite work out is how Kenny ended up driving the TVR rather than the surely more sensible BMW. I can only assume we decided with impeccable logic that with a kerb weight approaching 1100kg (all TVR models seemed to claim the same figure) the Sagaris was technically the less heavy of the available machinery.
As the youngest and most disposable (did I mention it was raining?) I was allocated the passenger seat in the TVR. To be honest it was hard to tell whether Mr P was up to the job because a) seeing all that Burberry through the bottom of a pint glass seemed to have affected my vision a trifle, and b) the switchgear in TVRs could make even the sharpest of uninitiated minds appear a little sluggish.
Anyway, we made it back safe and sound and I’m not sure Kenny really thought anything of it. But then he is one of the most extraordinary and talented people I’ve ever worked with. He is also a man who was once lashed to the pillion seat of a motorbike while facing backwards and taking photos… round the Nürburgring. The nurse certainly wouldn’t have advocated that.