Fear and Loathing in East Garston

I don’t think Hunter S Thompson ever visited East Garston or set one of his stories there. If he did, there seems to be no record of it. It really doesn’t seem likely at all. But I suppose he might have done…


We were somewhere around Boxford on the edge of the downs when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive…” and suddenly there was a terrible neighing all around and the road was full of what looked like horses swooping and screeching all around the car, which was going at about twenty-nine miles an hour with the windows down towards East Garston. And a voice was screaming “What are those animals?”

Then it was quiet again. “What were you shouting about?” my attorney muttered.

“Never mind,” I said. “It’s your turn to drive.”

“We’ve only got another six miles. What’s the matter with you?”

I changed down and hauled the Vauxhall round a corner. No point mentioning those horses, I thought. The poor idiot will see them soon enough.

Six miles to go. They would be tough miles. Very soon we would both be completely twisted. There was no going back and no time to rest. We were fastbacking it from Reading to cover Harriet’s gig for the Chronicle. Check-in at the Queen’s Arms was at seven and the gig kicked off at nine. It was now six so we had absolutely no margin for error. The editor had fronted us fifty notes and we’d spent the afternoon in Theale rounding up a collection of medication. We probably wouldn’t need at all this stuff but when two hypochondriacs get locked into a serious medicine collection the tendency is to push it as far as you can.

In the car we had fifty anti-histamine, a large box of Panadol, four dozen Strepsils, a litre of Benelin, two jars of Rennies, a pack of Pro-Plus, several tubs of Alka-Selzer a quart of Pepto Bismol and ten packets of Fishermen’s Friends. In the boot was a case of Diet Coke, a bottle of Fanta, two litres of Perrier and – in case things really slipped anchor – a half-bottle of Beaujolais and a pack of Resolve.

The green downs shimmered in the sunlight. I was concentrating on holding the Vectra at exactly thirty and nearly missed the pub. I pulled into the car park. It was almost empty. Too empty, perhaps. I glanced around and forced another handful of Rennies into my mouth to head off the worst of the paranoia. Paranoia is the one to miss. It’s the dark, mocking face on the dashboard clock, the mirthless grin the rear-view, the repeating question throbbing up through the leatherette upholstery, asking: ‘have I got the wrong day?’


• The rest of this story is now available in a paperback book (as are 25 others) – Unaccustomed as I Am (RRP £9.95).

It is stocked by the Hungerford Bookshop and you can place your order here.

Copies are also available at the White Horse Bookshop in Marlborough, the Mad Hatter Bookshop in Wantage and through an increasing number of other retailers.

You can order it from any bookshop: they will need to know that the ISBN is 978-1-8382580-0-9 and that it can be ordered from Gardners or Central Books.


Brian Quinn
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One Response

  1. Laughed myself silly reading this as I coughed down my arthritis pills and counted out the cortisone tablets. No horses in my neck of the woods but I did see a horde of wallabies eating the natives …

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