when it all started to get messy. Re­ally messy. Some­one else went and got a spoon from the kitchen and smeared a bit of mar­garine over the first ta­ble, and — as I’m sure you can very well imag­ine — that acted like fit­ting a 14-71 su­per­charger to a lethar­gic post-emis­sions 454 Chev en­gine. The guys now shot across the first lu­bri­cated ta­ble like a bul­let, so it was only a mat­ter of min­utes be­fore a big spat­ula came out and a thick layer of slip­pery, slimy mar­garine was be­ing smeared across all of the five tables. With their new-found speed, five tables stretched into 10 tables, and while some guys got their aim right and re­sem­bled a low-fly­ing rocket, oth­ers didn’t line them­selves up so well on their ap­proach and slid off the tables, crash­ing heav­ily into the ad­ja­cent chairs. Af­ter the chairs were moved out of the way, things im­proved even fur­ther, but not ev­ery­one got it right. One guy, my old mate Rod Sk­le­nars (who was al­ways a starter for a bit of fun like this), cocked up his ap­proach. But, rather than slid­ing off course onto the ground, he skewed off to the left very early dur­ing his high-speed slide and slammed shoul­der-first into one of the heavy alu­minium sup­port py­lons that was be­ing used to hold up the roof of the mar­quee. Poor old Rod ended up at the Wan­ganui Hospital when he got home, di­ag­nosed with a bro­ken col­lar­bone. By now, there were dozens of ‘en­trants’, and some of the guys had so much speed on that they were thump­ing into the vinyl wall of the mar­quee. Upon spot­ting this, a cou­ple of the guys snuck around the out­side of the mar­quee and un­did a sec­tion of wall, so that, as the faster slid­ers came shoot­ing along the tables and were about to hit the wall, the guys out­side would quickly lift the wall sec­tion, and the ta­ble-slider would fire out of the mar­quee into the cold black night and land in a heap on the ground, the mar­quee wall im­me­di­ately clos­ing up again in wait for its next vic­tim. In­evitably, some­one had an ugly land­ing that re­sulted in an­other in­jury, so the tent wall was closed back up prop­erly so that there were no more dis­ap­pear­ing acts by the more long-dis­tance ta­ble-slid­ers. By around 3am, things were go­ing strong, and, among all of the stupid ideas get­ting bandied about, some­one thought that, given that the Street Rod Na­tion­als was an NZHRA event and that all ‘speed events’ have to be specif­i­cally sanc­tioned (for in­surance pur­poses), we should ring the NZHRA to ap­ply for sanc­tion­ing. You can see how this was go­ing to go, right? “Let’s ring the NZHRA sec­re­tary for sanc­tion­ing!” some­one said. “Don’t be a wanker, mate. You can’t sanc­tion ta­ble-slid­ing,” came a re­sponse. “That shouldn’t stop us from try­ing,” some­one else said. “It’s three o’clock in the f***ing morn­ing, you twat,” said an­other. “That doesn’t mat­ter,” still an­other chipped in. And then some­one of­fered up, “I know the sec­re­tary’s home phone num­ber.” So that was pretty much that. Cell phones had ar­rived by ’93 (al­though still look­ing like bricks), some­one had the sec­re­tary’s num­ber, and so the call was made. Con­sid­er­ing the cir­cum­stances — be­ing wo­ken up by a group of drunken hot rod­ders at three in the morn­ing to be asked the ridicu­lous — the sec­re­tary took it pretty well. So, that was my one ex­pe­ri­ence of the in­ex­act and un­safe art of mar­garine-lu­bri­cated high-speed ta­ble-slid­ing. I guess it sounds pretty stupid, and maybe it’s one of those things for which you had to be there — but I thought it was bloody funny at the time. I hope that there are a few guys around the coun­try read­ing this who can re­mem­ber that night!

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