It was the spectacular indifference of the UK business community, patronage we’d naïvely assumed would be a shoe-in considering the Unique Selling Point on offer, which sowed the early seeds of demise with the boat builders. Steve was sending them as much money as he could. Even so, by Christmas, proper compensation for their efforts was looking no more likely than it had a year previously. Hugo and Chris were becoming understandably disgruntled, and relations were stretched to breaking point. Continue reading
With Chris and Hugo working in Exeter, surviving on the dole and the proceeds of loose change thrown into a donations box outside their workshop, Steve and I based ourselves in London, also surviving on the dole, a target of endless abuse down the pub.
“What the bloody hell are you two thinking?“ roared Lofty, our six-feet, six-inch Yorkshireman friend over a beer at The Dove in Hammersmith. Tears were streaming down his cheeks from laughing so hard. “I mean, thirty-five quid a week on the Rock ‘n Roll isn’t going to get you around the world now is it? Word of advice lads, forget the whole pea-brained idea.” Continue reading
By ten o’clock, there was still no sign of Chris and Hugo. The two photographers were trading anxious glances, perhaps wondering if they were the unwitting victims of a prank by their picture desk editors: “I need you to drive to the Arse End of Nowhere and shoot a story about a couple of nutters planning to use a pedalo to go around the world. You know, one of those things they rent out for five quid an hour on the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park. Come in number ten, your time is up!”
It certainly sounded like a hoax. Continue reading
One year later… Ardleigh reservoir, Suffolk
The morning air was clear. A stiff northeasterly blew unchallenged across the Broads from the North Sea, slicing to the bone through our meagre wool jerseys. We’d been at the reservoir since dawn, waiting for the boat builders to arrive with the recently completed hull. Today was a big day. By the end of it, we would know two things: whether the strange-looking contraption floated, and whether a customized propeller could move it though the water. Continue reading
Thirteen years earlier. Paris, August 1992