Just make sure you’re at the Beckford Arms by 9am, said Saunders, our organiser, not sounding excessively Christmassy. Truth be told, 9am did seem a touch early for something billed as a convivial pub lunch where a group of road-testing mates would embrace the Christmas spirit, especially as said Georgian public house is a good two hours from the office in wildest Wiltshire.
Of course, we knew the real reason for the early start. The one thing about gatherings of drivers and cars – from which words and photographs will be extracted – is that they begin in an early, time-eating frenzy of car arranging and cleaning, followed by an extended bout of camera action and then some more arranging and shooting after that, just to be sure.
Then will come action shots, during which (especially at this time of the year) the cars get covered with road gunge in their first 100 yards, so you’ll have to clean them again. Sure, there will be a nice lunch in the middle of it all, but the surrounding activities will ensure the day doesn’t end until daylight runs out around 4.30pm – and I’ve seen many a photographer (to a person, they’re obsessives) extend winter shoots by illuminating one car with the headlights of another.