20th April 1980 – Minor Goose Chase

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If I begin with a nursery rhyme, nobody who attended this shameless frolic will be surprised, so with reference to the celebrated ‘Goosey, Goosey Gander’, “whither shall we wander?” was one of the burning issues of the day.

We actually called it a ‘Scattering Event’, which apparently differs from a Treasure Hunt in that you are allowed to pick the clues you want to follow up, and thus are presented with a glorious opportunity to meander round the countryside admiring the vegetation.

Some seventy cars (eventually) gathered next to Norwich City Hall, moved visibly by gale-force winds, and deluged by a post-Noacian downpour. (N.B. How do you spell ‘Noacian’?)

Two gallant cameramen from Anglia T.V. braved the elements to record what they could see of us. Peter Gamble did his usual excellent interview, smirking gently by the side of his immaculate MM.

I don’t know, off-hand, how many species there are of ducks in the world, but from the amount of water around, they could all have comfortably paddled down Bethel Street and preened themselves in the pond of the car park: not for nothing did we call our daughter ‘Jemima’.

By mid-day, however, the sky cleared miraculously, and those residents of Norfolk who emerged from their homes were visibly awed by the sight of enormous numbers of Morris Minors flashing about the countryside doing peculiar things. I acted as a rogue car, armed with the ‘Golden Book of Nursery Rhymes’ (you don’t believe me do you?), descending upon the unwary with mind-wrenching questions like ‘How many daises are sold for a pin?’ and ‘Who killed Cock-Robin?’ – I got funny answers to that, especially from Mr. Phoenix, who rose from the ashes with some legendary answers.

Peter Gamble won the MM section of the Treasure Hunt. Mr. Phoenix’s mythology was too much for the other Series II’s. The Minor 1000 section was won by the largest family ever perceived to get into a saloon all at once; they also knew every nursery rhyme in the book, except the one about the daisies! Erica Parker paddled off with the Concours, nobly judged by Peter Gamble. A special quack to Mr. Bob Finch, whose car was in dry dock, but who still turned up to help with the marshalling.

The goslings drove off into the sunset – small wonder so many of us call them babies, yielding Norfolk once more to the prerogative of the downy brood.

Report from May/June 1980 Minor Matters by John Frye.

Below is are two reports from entrants on the day.

Now, it was back in 1977 that I got my first car, not the nice sporting number of the Mini 1000, I really wanted, but a Morris Traveller that my dad insisted I had. Now in fairness he was helping me greatly in financing it and my Uncle Cyril had had it from new, so we knew the pedigree.

It seemed old and it appeared old to me, but in reality, it was a ’71, so, one of the last. My Uncle had used it for hauling potatoes and as a means of taking his gundog and shooting gear onto Holbeach Marshes. It had moss growing in the rear window gullies, the front passenger seat was shot, and I hated the colour. So, it wasn’t love at first sight.

However, this was to change once I had stripped out the interior, repainted the car Brunswick Green with cream wheels plus grille and cleaned up the woodwork, it started to become mine. Then of course it became transport for teenage adventures, possibly the only Morris Minor at a Led Zep gig, etc. I loved that sound of the engine note reminiscent of a Lancaster bomber, as I took my foot off the accelerator as I went over a particular hill in Northamptonshire that I regularly used.

Not sure how I heard about this relatively new club the Morris Minor Owners Club, but I joined up and was soon getting regular pale blue covered A5 magazines through the post. On one occasion when this magazine arrived, I noticed an event that sounded worth doing advertised. The event was called ‘The Minor Goose Chase’. It was being held in Norfolk, so, to me as a Lynn lad, it sounded worth an enquiry. So, off to the post office with a letter to the address given (for young members of today a handwritten letter was the 1970’s and ’80’s version of a text or email, but require a stamp and patience). Duly a letter arrived back with details and a list of requirements, it also was written in a manner that implied the person contacting me had a sense of humour, so I was sold.

Now one of the questions asked on the application was the name of the car. Now at this time, to use the phrase of the period, I thought that naming cars was rather girlie. However, my mate Glyn Morgan, who was coming along as my wingman, had no reservations and had been insisting on calling the car Boris the Morris since I got it. So, Boris was entered on the form. Much to my annoyance, along with the next letter I received with my registration, was a sarcastic note on the originality of the name. This of course gave Glyn plenty of smiles and ammunition.

The event day came along, as we got to the registration point where we picked up our destination sheets, there were Morris Minors everywhere. Most of the drivers looked old; in their 30’s or 40’s, some even older by the looks of it! We did spot one attractive girl of about 17 or 18, who seemed to be accompanied by her parents, who seemed to have some sort of official capacity in the club.

The destination sheets were a seemingly bizarre set of clues to Glyn and me though he seemed more on their wavelength than myself. Fortunately, as the day went on it became apparent that most folk were in the same boat as us with the clues. Though we all somehow managed to get to our various checkpoints. I remember a set of crossroads somewhere Wymondham way I believe, when there was a bit of a log jam, as a multitude of cars on each road, with motorists and navigators scratching their heads, all converged. This led to everyone getting out and consulting one another as to where we should be. I vaguely remember something about a moot hall and lots of us arriving at either Wymondham or Aylsham. My highlight was crossing my first ever ford (with some reservations) that might have been at Narborough, but I am guessing.

I seem to remember the last destination being a village hall or Scout hut, I know not where, but I remember coming across the girl we had spotted at the start of the day curled up asleep in the corner and chatting to her parents, who turned out to be rather charming, seems they had driven up from Kent or Essex; miles away from Norfolk. It certainly was a tremendous and memorable day of fun, frustration and general good humour.

Sadly, a couple or three years later, Boris was sold, to make way for a 1964 MG Midget which I still have. However, the good news is in 2017, forty years after Boris 1, I took custodianship of Boris 2. It also proved what a small world the Morris Minor world is. I picked up Boris 2 in Stoke on Trent and drove him back to Norwich one frosty November morning. Two days later I went to my second meeting of a local car club I had joined, a cheery voice came my way, ‘Is it you that’s bought Geoff’s car? Gillian said it was coming this way’. Then to cap it all it only turned out that it was the girl Glyn and I had spotted all those years ago. Turned out her name was Amanda. Small world.

Boris 2 had belonged to a lovely sounding man from Stoke who set up the Potteries Branch of the Owners Club. Cam Shaw from the Branch organised the sale. I had such a wonderful drive home in the Traveller that I added an extra 30 or more miles to my route home. I also decided that I’d book it into a show in the Highlands of Scotland the following summer.

John Warner, Norwich.

My car is URK 567. She was my first car and I still own her today, although she is now blue with a silver roof. My memories of the Minor Goose Chase are of a very flat landscape which was a rather long drive from Birmingham, but made a brilliant day out. Every way you turned you could see Morris Minors in the distance going backwards and forwards up and down roads – often coming towards you which was a bit confusing! The other main memory is of John Frye holding a book of nursery rhymes and flagging cars down to ask us to say the ‘next line’. That book contained some very obscure nursery rhymes. It was probably the first branch event that I attended, as the Birmingham Branch (of which I was a founder member) did not come into being until November of that year.

I have sent a photo of my car called Jezabel as she is now in the same sort of view as in the other photo. She was given a good deal of tlc about 20 years ago, but since we moved to the Isle of Wight about 5 1/2 years ago, the paintwork has gone downhill’ due to the salty sea air I have no doubt.

Sally Woodcock, Isle of Wight.

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