This is the last available excerpt from Cyril Green's memoirs. There are, I'm sure, many fascinating extracts that we haven't yet seen, but for now, with Cyril lost in the Russian hinterland, his young wife Francesca has asked for some privacy and the diaries remain under lock and key. Thankfully, her gardener, Claudio, is offering great support, in between bouts of expert dibbing, hardening off and pricking out.
From Cyril's memoirs dated 15 April 2008
Ewan and Charlie, eh? Long Way Down? Great entertainment, but I do wish there had been a camera crew on hand when Mr Unlucky himself, Kevin Stott, undertook his ill-advised trip from John O’Groats to Cape Town back in 2003. Had there been, then I’m sure Mr Stott would not now be on the missing persons register.
Stott’s major problem was a terrible sense of direction coupled with the shunning of “high tech cobblers” such as sat-nav and an almost total inability to read a map or use a compass. Nor was his choice of machinery what many would have considered apt. The oil-cooled GSX-R1100 does, indeed, have an admirable reliability record, but once fitted with a turbo and nitrous things are less predictable. And vast experience over many years on high-powered motorcycles… would have been a help. Unfortunately, Stott’s previous bikes included a customised Kawasaki GPz305, an IZH Planeta two-stroke single and – the machine on which he covered most miles – a 2bhp 1958 Phillips Gadabout. Add to this, according to his brother, that Stott’s mechanical abilities were negligible and his attitude to maintenance negligent, the odds were rather stacked against him.
The journey seemed to go smoothly for several weeks, but then things turned sour. Having been lost for many days in a remote wilderness, Stott’s provisions were almost exhausted, thanks mainly to poor planning and incessant snacking, though basing supplies largely around Sugar Puffs and Dr Pepper was never a great idea in the first place, especially for a 19-stone diabetic. With his petrol reserves almost spent, he crested a hill and saw a settlement in the distance. Crying with relief (we know such details thanks to the survival of his video diaries) Stott descended towards signs of life, no doubt hopeful of salvation.
However, it was clear from the outset that this lumbering, weeping outsider was regarded with suspicion at best, open aggression being the overriding reaction from any of the locals he approached. He didn’t know the language and they clearly didn’t understand him. That night he slept fitfully in the open alongside his GSX-R.
Speaking to his video diary, Stott, apparently affecting the tones of a Victorian explorer, said: ‘I have had no luck in finding either food or fuel. Everyone I approach seems to bare their teeth and bark rebukes, which although I cannot fathom are clearly warnings to stay away. This afternoon, feeling delirious with thirst, craving simply water, I stumbled into what appeared to be a meeting place for males of the community. But although they each clutched a beaker of some strange, dark concoction, I was offered none and the elder, clearly in charge and standing in a small, raised enclosure, failed to understand my pleas. In desperation, I reached for the drink of a younger man sitting nearby, but I was heavily beaten and thrown out into the mud. I shall try again tomorrow, but this evening I have supped on some water from a puddle to help wash down the last of the Sugar Puffs. Thank God I didn’t bring Alpen as my mother had advised.’
Things didn’t get much better, as an entry from the following day testified: ‘Today was terrible. I had left the bike outside what appeared to be a primitive version of what we might call a grocer's and when I emerged, empty handed, I saw the bike being pushed away by a group of dirty, wretched children. As I came near they managed to start it and the largest rode it away, several others on the pillion, gesticulating wildly. I fear I shall not see it again. Later, I wandered into a steamy, filthy shack in which a local woman was stirring all manner of unrecognisable foodstuffs in a vat of boiling oil. But having no money of any kind, I could not convince her to part with even the smallest item, not even by bartering with my Wee Willy. Is this it? Is this where I shall end my days, in this Godforsaken hell-hole?’
The answer seems to be yes, as Stott was never heard of again. And the saddest aspect of this tale? He hadn’t even made it out of Britain. The remains of Stott’s GSX-R, stripped to the bare frame, was found in a suburb of Glasgow. But in funny sort of way I’ve been inspired by Kevin Stott to make an epic journey of my own, except I plan to travel north from John O’Groats, deep into the Arctic Circle then strike out east into Russia. Watch this space.