When Matt first heard this week’s challenge, from Tracy Reid in Durrington, he thought it was too good to be true: “Just travel the 13 miles from Durrington to Brighton; piece of cake.” Then Matt received his transport – a vintage mobility scooter!
Undeterred, he cranked it up to its max speed of 6mph and set off as darkness fell over Brighton: “I checked the speedometer and after seeing it was represented by a tortoise I realised I was in for a long night. It was actually quite a nice ride, the aerodynamics were brilliant although pot hole turbulence was a problem.”
Fellow comedian Dave Thompson was adjudicating the challenge, and had his doubts about Matt’s scooter driving skills. “You’ll be lucky to make it as far as Lancing,” he said. The scooter waded its way through assorted gangs of people, including one stray drunk weaving side-to-side in a cycle lane like a live game of Frogger. After juicing up at a helpful petrol station Matt shocked Dave by rolling up at his house in Shoreham in the early hours of Sunday.
“Dave offered me a glass of Pálinka, a traditional Hungarian fruit brandy, which really hit the spot at 5am,” Matt recalls. “After recharging the batteries I set off to finish my journey, dodging flocks of demonic seagulls along the way.” Matt was beginning to question the difficulty of the task before three calamitous crashes rocked his progress. The worst of them saw the intrepid adventurer actually underestimate his speed as he ran into the back of a slow-shuffling milk float.
But he actually found the main challenge lay in a lack of acceptance of the scooter as a genuine mode of transport. “I soon realised that other people on the road were scared to look at me on my scooter,” he says. “I can’t imagine what it’s like for disabled people trying to make friends at service stations.”
With the finish line in sight, disaster struck as Matt noticed his wallet had slipped out some miles back and in his confusion nearly drove head first for Hove Lagoon. Fortunately, he recovered to reach the Peace Statue before morning had broken across the south coast.
Matt did a backwards lap of honour around the angel to celebrate what he thought was another record. That was until legal advisor Stephan Treehorn informed him that he was still well over 1,500 miles short of John Duckworth’s outrageous record! John travelled 1654.6 miles around mainland UK on a mobility scooter between 20 June 2004 and 27 July 2004 finishing in Hincaster, Cumbria.
But Matt had already experienced an epiphany and declared: “If everyone replaced their cars with mobility scooters then the world would be a more chilled out place.”
Watch Matt’s world record attempt in full at www.thelatest.co.uk/7
Set Matt’s next record-breaking challenge at: www.facebook.com/latest7 or www.facebook.com/mattwhistlerbrighton
Words: Richard Hook