In the grasscutting-choked wake of William Davidson, the descendant of 19th century novelist and lawnmowing pioneer William Makepeace Thackeray whose steam-powered Victorian lawnmower and lemonade-brewing machine, Bluebird VI, broke the world land speed record for steam-powered Victorian lawnmower and lemonade-brewing machines on the wind-swept Allonby Sands in the Solway Firth last week, Arthur Fetlock, a Shropshire milge-grouter and part-time hare-jugger, broke the world land speed record for ballasted sail-assisted 18th century wheelbarrows yesterday, in perfect conditions on the golden yet treacherous sands of Morecambe Bay, writes Ivor Dicky Bowtie, Silly Records & Disgraced Royalty Correspondent.
Competing wheelbarrows must contain a sufficient ballast of aristocratic garden or household wastes. Fetlock, 67, traversed the Bay in 12 hours 37 minutes, pushing a Chinese 1786 Sail-Assisted Dung-Hiaow elm-timbered wheelbarrow containing Royal Compost and Expensive Royal Detritus Sarah Ferguson.
Mr Fetlock, of Clun, had prepared for 6 months for the attempt, beginning with a carefully-selected series of lightweight barrows filled with grass cuttings and disused servants.
"We built Arthur up gradual, like", said his trainer, late TV Horticulturist Percy Thrower. "Soon, he was onto bigger barrows, with loads of old turmits* and dungs, and the unwanted offspring of the lesser, impoverished, Cotswold gentry.
"And in the last couple o' week, we've had him a-cartin' these defrocked Bishops and Hadmirals, as well as an odd Duke or two who their families wanted shot of as they were gettin' to be hembarrisments", continued Thrower, who was looking surprisingly-fit, in the bracing air near the mouth of the Kent Estuary.
Fetlock was guided across the shining, shifting sands by Cedric Robinson, Queen's Guide to the Kent Sands of Morecambe Bay** and was cheered home through the mud of Kents Bank by an hysterical phalanx of former Blue Peter presenters, BBC Royal Correspondent Nicholas Witchell, and Mr Fu Qing Fhat Git, the Chinese antiquarian and lighthouse-collector who owns the precious wheelbarrow.
An exhausted but ecstatic Fetlock's final act was the "emptying-out", in which he tipped Sarah Ferguson into the stinking Kents Bank mud. There she lay, like a condemned hulk, while Fetlock, Fu Qing Fhat Git, Percy Thrower and Cedric Robinson danced a medieval lopper's jig*** in celebration.
After a valedictory address by Times gossip-columnist Libby Purves, who read a statement from the Duke of Edinburgh which said, simply, "send the baggage to rot somewhere filthy and far-off, like Van Diemen's Land, California, or Eastbourne", Sarah Ferguson was taken away in a dredger bound for The Americas, where it is expected that she will become a Pretend-Queen.
Then the tide came in, as it does in this beautiful yet ruthless Northern Bay, "as fast as a horse can gallop", and all was covered with shining, glassy, sea, and the tranquil meaninglessness of Nature ruled once more.
*A turmit is a nurgled turnip, a common crop in 18th century Wessex, though rarely cultivated nowadays
** Cedric Robinson was under special instruction from Her Majesty, to "get that woman over away as quickly as you can"
*** "The lopper's jig was an autumnal dance or frolic of celebration, at the end of the kumquat and quince harvests in the grander country estates of Middle England" - Quaint Lunacies of The Rural Gentry by Haycock, Peacock & Stopcock, Stroud, 1895