Contemporary Slang 101 (with 12 UCAS points)

Ladies and Gents, buckle yourselves up for the wild ride that is Contemporary Slang 101. This is where we’ll get down and groovy with the words that young’uns are using these days. If you were born before the year 2000, this is for you…

Think of it as a crash course in street-smart lingo, an introduction into a secret society of cool, or a lesson into “how to impress your friends while sounding like you’re still in touch with reality.”

So, what exactly is “contemporary slang?”

It’s the language of the people, the pulse of the youths, the verbal expression of all things #HipAndHappening. It’s what you hear when your kids talk to their mates, or when you’re scrolling through TikTok or memes (we’ll get to those). And just like fashion, these terms change faster than you can say “Who wore it better?”

So why don’t we start decoding this charming and colourful collection of words and phrases, so that we sound a bit less like our grandpas, and more the kool-gang who play ruggers (no offence grandpas!)


Many slang terms take the form of initialisms, contractions and acronyms. Take:

  • LOL (Laugh out loud); RO[T]FL (Rolling on [the] floor laughing)

LOL does NOT mean “lots of love,” so don’t tell your children “Sorry you failed your test, honey, lol” …

The term was first used in the 1980s by Wayne Peterson, to denote a more extreme laughter than “hahaha,” and whilst the meaning mostly remains, today, the term in all lower-case is occasionally used ironically to convey the lack of funniness of something.


A “Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side!”

B “lol” (i.e you’re not funny)

Other examples of abbreviations:

  1. tbh/tbf – to be honest/ to be fair
  2. smn/sm1 – something/someone
  3. icl/ngl – i can’t lie/ not gonna lie (to be serious about smn)
  4. alr – alright/ok
  5. np – no problem
  6. acc – actually
  7. fr – for real (are you serious; acc?)
  8. bae – “before anyone else” (a significant other)
  9. bf, bff, gf – boyfriend, best friend (bff), girlfriend
  10. idk – I don’t know
  11. irl – in real life
  12. [gonna – going to ( can be used irl)]

(Use at your own caution.)


“we r alr to come over later, idk if ur still free”

Translation: “we are alright to come over later, not sure if you’re still free…”


Many words take the form of synonyms in slang. One of the most common words that take slang, is “food.”

The most common is “scran,” which as originally slang for a “bar tab,” in the 1700s. Later, it was coined as a verb, “out on the scran” meaning begging for food. Scran was often used to describe scrappy pieces of food or left over, until the military began using it to mean “ration meals.” It is likely to have been influenced by the word skran, Icelandic for junk.

The term “bussin” is said to have come about from TikTok, where a trend of “furiously gripping food” became a way to show its deliciousness. Food hence crumbled and burst into pieces, which led to the word “bussin” being used to describe tasty scran.

The term “peng” is also commonly used to describe something as impressive, or appealing, for example, “this cake is peng!” It was derived from the word for cannabis popularised by reggae music, Kushungpeng, but bares no relation to drugs at all in a modern context.

In order to describe food as average, or rubbish, the default is “mid,” suggesting mediocrity or “mid-of-the-range”, or “wack,” originally African-American vernacular, now meaning bad.

Contemporary idioms

This is probably the hardest part to grasp. A lot of teenagers and children form their personality from an overdose of social media, leading to them talk in riddles, dressing up like every other person who uses Instagram, and glued to their phones.

Contemporary idioms are a collection of random phrases used as “default reactions” to things, with little or no meaning, relevant or not. The constant use of these have become commonplace, so here we go…

  • No Cap

If something is “no cap,” it is true, and not a lie. One interpretation of this is how caps are used to hide things: contents of a bottle, an ugly haircut etc. So for there to be no cap, everything is honest, and revealed…

  • Rent free

If you just can’t stop thinking about something, or something is iconic, we say it lives “rent free” in my head, as it pays no bills to the landlord that is forgetting.

  • Caught in 4k

You’re caught eating Marmite in a no Marmite zone! We’d say you’ve been “caught in 4K” (caught red handed).

  • Mission failed successfully

You accidentally fall off a tightrope, but end up landing on a double backflip. You failed, but did something cool. Your mission? Failed successfully.

  • Bare

Whilst conventionally it means “a lacking of,” it’s most commonly used to mean “a lot of” or “really.” That’s bare weird!

  • Lowkey

Lowkey, it’s used as a quantifier like “kind of” or “pretty.” However, lowkey is used to voice a non-personal opinion, to avoid offending someone. You might be thinking: lowkey that’s kinda weird?

Well there you have it: a taster into the world of slang.

Also, 12 more UCAS points 😉













What is Rallying?

Rallying is nuts.

In circuit racing like Formula 1, drivers go round and round the same track, whereas in rallying, you drive what’s called a ‘stage’. This could be a tarmac lane, a gravel forest access road, or icy cliff side switchbacks. You drive each stage only once, and a rally lasts between one day to two weeks! Oh and I should point out that in rallying, you have never raced up this road before, it’s a flat out 100+mph drive into the unknown, often within inches of trees, walls or cliff edges.

Although you don’t have any race experience of this road, before the rally begins, each driver and co-driver will drive the road at normal road driving speed (this is called a recce), and creates ‘pace-notes’. Pace-notes are a code/description of what’s to come along this road. Pace-notes would look something like this:

6R 50 into flat crest 50 and hairpin left keep in.

Let’s simplify that into an understandable language:

  • ‘6R’: 6 refers to the angle/severity of the corner. I use a 1 to 6 scale, 1 being a nearly 90 degree bend and 6 being almost a straight line.
  • ‘50’ refers to the distance between two points of interest (in this case a fast right hand corner and a crest) in metres.
  • ‘flat crest’ simply means stay flat out on their accelerator over a crest/possible jump in the road.
  • ‘and’ or ‘into’ represent distances. ‘And’ is less than 50m to the next corner and ‘into’ is even less than that, sometimes the co-driver doesn’t even have time to say either; at this point you know as a driver that you’ll be busy!
  • There are sometimes other notes too like ‘keep in’ or ‘keep right’ etc.

Unlike circuit racing, cars are released from the start line at 30 second or minute intervals and the rally is purely a race against time. Fastest time wins, overtaking on the roads makes no difference.

Here is World Rally Championship driver Craig Breen driving his 1986 MG Metro 6R4. The 600bhp Metro that was so fast it caused the banning of the entire Group B World Rally Series in 1986.

Rallying happens all over the world. In each country there will be national championships and there is also a World Rally Championship (the WRC) which visits 13 countries each year including Greece, Argentina, Japan, New Zealand and Monte Carlo, to name just a few. Because of the fact that the rally is the first time you drive the road at ‘race pace’, your pace notes are hugely important, both from the point of view that they are what determine how fast you go, and also when it comes to not crashing the car. There is also more pressure on the driver to not crash because he has another life — the co-driver’s life — in his hands.

Quick watch? 2021 WRC round in Finland:

There are currently only three factory WRC teams: Ford M-sport (2 cars), Hyundai (3 cars), and Toyota (3 cars).

On a local scale, there is a British Rally Championship (BRC) and a Welsh Rally Championship which is what I will be competing in this year. Can’t wait! These events take place in forests on gravel fire access roads and on tarmac lanes. The closest big (ish) rally event to Worcester is either the Woodpecker rally (a round of the Welsh Championship) based in Ludlow or there is a closed road tarmac event based in Ledbury on lanes. Both have a range of modern machinery and classic cars and lots and lots of MK2 Ford Escorts.

Here are the highlights of the Cambrian rally in North Wales:


Adventure Time And The Question Of Identity

Adventure Time is a Cartoon Network children’s animated show created in 2010 by Pendleton Ward. It tells the story of a 13 year old boy called Finn, and his talking dog, Jake. While this premise may sound childish and silly, the show deals with a lot of hard philosophical questions. One of these questions is the question of identity: who are we and why are we that way?

Through various means, a being named Fern came to life after a grass demon merged with Finn’s sword (“The Finn Sword,” which was created after Finn was forced to destroy an alternative version of himself). Fern is convinced that he is in fact, Finn. He talks the same, he acts the same and most importantly he has all of Finn’s memories. In philosophy, identity is the relation each thing bears only to itself. However, what defines a person as that person?

A thought experiment that explores this question is the Ship of Theseus. Imagine a ship leaves the port of Theseus with a full crew. On its journey, parts of the ship have to be replaced — the planks, the sail, the mast etc. — until finally, when the ship eventually returns to Theseus, every piece of the ship as well as the crew has been replaced.

Is this the same ship?

Suppose that it is the same ship and that simply its physical form has changed, with the ship itself maintaining a kind of non-physical “essence.” If you think that, you must believe in another world of existence beyond the physical, namely the metaphysical. This would mean that you are a dualist, that you believe in both the physical and the metaphysical states of being. At what point did the ship become a ship? What makes the ship what it is? If the ship has an undeniable identity, will it ever end?

Esse est percepi is a philosophical concept which I’m sure many keen Latinists will have translated already: “To be is to be perceived.” This means that existence is contingent on the observation of others. Many theologians would say that the reason why things continue to exist is because of God. God is eternal, and so therefore his observant eye keeps us rooted in existence. This solves the problem of when the existence of the ship ends (never), but it does not solve the problem of when it became the ship in the first place. An answer for this would be when we name it.

In John 1:1 we read, “In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This implies the importance and power of words. So maybe it is simply when we name something that it takes a distinct identity.

On the other hand, if you take a physicalist position and believe that it is not the same ship, this view also raises problems. For example, at what point did the ship cease to be the ship? If the ship is purely physical, then the ship consists only of its physical form. If the original physical form of the ship has been changed, is this still the same ship? If you are a physicalist, you would say that it is not the same ship. The identity of the ship was comprised of its specific parts; therefore this ship that has arrived is not the same ship as it does not have these parts.

What if only one plank was removed from the ship? Would it still be the same? If someone’s arm is removed, are they still that same person? The problem for the physicalist is where the identity of something ends, whereas for the dualist it is where something starts.

So in conclusion, Fern is not Finn from both a metaphysical and physical stand point: he does not have Finn’s body, nor does he have Finn’s “soul” as such. He does however have his memories, but unless you consider that a form of metaphysical identity then Fern is not Finn.

Worcester scran

In April 2022, a self-proclaimed “connoisseur of food” compiled a list of the Top 5 best fast food burgers in Worcester, so go check it out.

As much as I personally enjoy a cheeky voyage to the local Maccies, sometimes the “fast-food” option just ain’t good enough.

So I thought … why not share my personal (yet objectively correct) list of the finest quality grub establishments, for that once-in-a while proper meal?

Impasto (6 St Swithin’s St, Worcester WR1 2PY)

Oh my days. Once you try Impasto, you will never reconsider the franchise Italian restaurants in Worcester again (ever). They’re consistent. They’re authentic. All dishes are homemade, and their ingredients are local as much as possible, so you’ll be sure to have the freshest food. Not only that — buckle your seatbelts — but any pizza is £10 on weekdays till 7pm. The staff members are super friendly, knowledgeable about the food, and when you visit the restaurant, you’ll feel right at home, tucking into your bed of pasta and sauce …

“Clay roasted chicken and pesto pizza is the best thing I’ve ever tasted” – Gabriel (not paid for his opinion).

Maneki Ramen (Arch 45, Worcester WR1 3BH)

Since visiting Japan in the summer of 2019, I have not been able to find a bowl of ramen as good as the ones over there. Maneki comes real close, and is real damn good. Pete Dovaston, the head chef, has lived in Asia and draws on his experiences for inspiration to create menus that are authentic, yet adapted to the ingredients available in the UK. This place never serves watery mess like the many try-to-be ramen around, and the flavour just blows up in your mouth. If you’re looking for something new to try, I would definitely recommend the melt-in-your-mouth “Tonkotsu pork ramen” and “Karaage chicken.”

Wayland’s Yard (6 Foregate St, Worcester WR1 1DB)

It was during GCSEs, studying in The Hive library everyday, and every lunchtime was “fridge food” and its variants (special mention to Iceland for making yourselves so affordable). One day I decided “why not give Wayland’s Yard a go?” seeing as I walk past it every day on the way to school. Since then, I’ve returned countless times, mainly for the YARD crispy classic chicken burger and their aromatic cold brew. What really entices me is the simplicity, yet precise execution of every item there. With a great variety of breakfast and lunch items, and being dog friendly, it provides, undoubtedly, the *pengest munch*.

(Fun fact: Wayland’s Yard was opened in 2016 by former Worcester Warrior’s player Sam Smith)

Black and White (14 The Foregate, Worcester WR1 3QD)

“If you ever want a beautiful breakfast you can thank me later,” says Mr Salvador K. And how correct he was. Black and White, located confidently next to Foregate Street Station is a classy café which does a mean eggs benedict. It’s a lovely little spot for people watching too, whilst sipping on your latte with oat milk. I’m yet to return for their waffles, which I’ve been told are exquisite, but perhaps you might want to try first! Overall, a cheeky little spot for a solid nom-nom-nom and admirable coffee!

Hanbao (4 Foregate Street, Worcester, GB WR1 1DB)

*They also courteously give you gloves so that all crumbs end up in your tummy, not your hands!


Hanbao, otherwise known as my guilty pleasure, is the Asian-influenced burger palace of Worcester and hotspot for gourmet dines. With a selection of exquisite, yet filthy, filthy burgers, dirty, dirty fries and excruciatingly flavoursome wings, there’s something for every taste bud. Whilst it is not the most friendly outing for your dimes and pennies, it’s so worth it and the portions are beastly– and you’ll leave your belly well satisfied too …

Well, I mean if that doesn’t make you hungry, I don’t know what will … Why not give something a try?




On The Morality of Lolita

LOLITA, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

Lolita is one of those pieces of art that lives in a state of liminality. Once banned as pornography, “Lolita” or Dolores Haze, became a staple in modern pop culture, even luring in her own celebrity fans from Nick Cave to Lana Del Rey. Her iconic red-heart glasses and cherry-painted lips would become symbols of seductive female sexuality, but we often forget the true Dolores, the young girl “standing four feet ten in one sock,” and remember instead the “nymphet,” a type of girl the narrator describes as “between the age limits of nine and fourteen… who bewitch travellers, twice or many times older than they, and reveal their true nature which is not human, but nymphic.”

This word derives from Ancient Greek myths that tell tales of nymphs and their exploits. These mystical, fairy-like beings deemed “not entirely of this world” would entrap men, and once a man has fallen in love, he is never able to let go. Nabokov once stated that he believes all great novels to be “fairy tales,” and to us he left Lolita, perhaps the most twisted fairy in all the tales.

Despite the novel’s popularity, it is infuriatingly ambiguous and is therefore often misread. Humbert Humbert is an unreliable narrator, a complete narcissist who throughout the entirety of the book had no regard for any of his actions. Despite this, many readings of Lolita have painted Dolores Haze, the 12 year old girl on the receiving end of Humbert’s delusional obsession, as the manipulator. Many early critics interpreted Humbert as an innocent person, hapless to his desires, and Dolores as the preying villain who instigated the events that ensue. In Lionel Trilling’s review of the novel he stated “…it is Lolita who ravishes Humbert,” and the esteemed literary and film critic Richard Schickel deemed Dolores to be “…that most repugnant of all females, a mid twentieth-century pubescent American girl-woman.”

Even on the internet, within the heavily romanticised sub-cultures of Tumblr that praise the “nymphet aesthetic,” Lolita and the aesthetic she has created is described as “very flirtatious…act[ing] as if she’s innocent (even though she knows she’s not) [with] a lot of child-like energy.”

Believe it or not, this “child like” energy is most likely because Dolores Haze is in-fact a child! As such, Lolita cannot fall into the category of a femme fatale (a woman who uses seduction as a vehicle to achieve her devious plans) yet as Nabokov’s work is entwined with intrinsically beautiful poetic lines, such as

  • “Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece”;
  • “Life is just one small piece of light between two eternal darkness”;
  • and “We loved each other with a premature love, marked by a fierceness that so often destroys adult lives”

many readers miss Humbert’s distorted perspective on reality and view Dolores wrongly as a “corrupt Juliet.”

This view is visible in the overly-romanticised songs and films and “nymphet” Tumblr aesthetic. These interpretations let Humbert off the hook, seeing him as an honest man who is simply weak toward his urges toward young girls. But it is not the responsibility of underage girls to protect themselves from predators, and it is urgent that we recognise the true nature of young Dolores Haze, not as a seductive “nymphet” but as a child and a victim.

4 days in Berlin

To end the winter term, sixth form German and Art A level students at King’s went on a four day trip to Berlin. It was an enriching explosion of culture and history… once we got over the crazy first day!

We left at midnight on the last day of term after a full day at school and the carol service. Travelling through the night to Luton, we arrived at the airport at about three in the morning. I got on the plane and was asleep before take off. Having managed to grab 2.5 hours sleep, I woke up in a very chilly Berlin. We then went straight off the plane to the Stasi museum.

To give you idea of the relentless hurrying from one museum to another, we didn’t check in to the hostel till 9 that evening! We ran through art galleries, dashed past memorials, and speed-read information boards. After we checked in to our hostel and had some pizza we headed out again to the DDR museum. I can’t lie, the first day was hard. I never slept so well as I did that evening.

On the second day my feet still hurt but I was able to start to appreciate the vibe and beauty of this incredible, historical city. It was very moving to be in a place that had known so much hardship and yet managed to reconcile their past through art, architecture, and culture. We went to the Alte Nationalgalerie where we were given a talk in which it was highlighted to us that the word “national” holds a lot of meaning and is used very carefully nowadays in Germany for obvious reasons.

What does the word “national” now mean for the people of Germany? There is definite caution in the German psychology when it comes to being proud of their culture. But through art I hope they have found a way to reconcile their history and the pride they should have in their philosophers, authors, musicians, painters, and the contribution German culture has made to the advance in European arts.

We also went to the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer which is the memorial for the Berlin wall and there are plaques on the ground for where people were shot who were trying to escape. We walked between the actual wall and east Berlin, doing easily what so many people wanted to do so badly for a whole generation. You could see that the top of the wall was curved so that you couldn’t cling on. There were examples of the nails that stuck up from the ground so if you did manage to climb over you would be met by a carpet of  spikes.

On the third day we went to the holocaust memorial, which is a maze of tall and small concrete blocks. As you enter, the ground slopes and the pillars get taller; sometimes you can see a straight path out of the maze but then you turn a corner you’re lost again. As soon as you enter, the noise of the traffic and city disappears and a cold silence descends.  There are stairs that lead to nowhere and it was another very moving experience symbolising lives cut short.

After this we ran on hurriedly to the Deutscher Bundestag where we had a guided tour. You can still see on the walls the scars of Germany’s past within the fabric of the building where they have kept the graffiti from Soviet soldiers. The most clever architectural feature is the glass dome symbolising transparency and openness. Members of the public can climb the dome and look down on their parliamentarians debating so that the words “Dem Deutschen Volke”  (for the German people) written on the front of the building finally rings true. From the top of the dome you can look out on the whole of Berlin.

In the evening we went to two shows. The first was a comedy in a bohemian Kultur Klub. Although it was evident that the actors were very talented, as it was all improvisation, we found it very difficult to understand as they spoke very fast and much of it featured political jokes. However, the other people there were in hysterics so evidently there is such a thing as German comedy…!

With 5 minutes to grab a snack we hurried on to the next show which was at a grand theatre, the Friedrichstadtpalast. For many people this show was the highlight of the trip. There was no doubt the staging, effects, choreography, and acrobatics were very impressive — there was a moment where suddenly the whole stage was filled with water! However, for me personally I just find really loud intrusive music very overpowering and rather unpleasant. If it hadn’t been for that it would have been a great experience.

Our last day in Berlin started with my own “Höhepunkt” (highlight), which was the service in the Berliner Dom.

We sat in the most beautiful ornate building listening to the organ, which is one from the workshop of William Sauer. It felt like the first time we’d sat still since we got off the plane. The dome was mostly gold leaf and there were eight mosaics depicting the Beatitudes from the Sermon of the Mount. I’m very familiar with cathedral services being a chorister and was pleased to find that the liturgical text was pretty much the same… just in German obviously. We sang German hymns and the choir sang Mendelssohn and the music of a few other German composers. We were even able to take communion which was white wine in shot glasses. When we left the service it was snowing.

That afternoon we had a tour around a Stasi prison, which due to being unsettling for obvious reasons felt a bit like we were actually prisoners. The tour guide was very chatty and although what she was saying was very interesting it felt like we were there for hours. And as she was starting to tell us about how the Stasi tried to make it disorientating for the prisoners on purpose by not having any windows so they couldn’t see what time it was, we started to wonder whether or not it was dark outside and how long we’d been underground? And then when she’d tell us how the prisoners weren’t allowed to sit down and had to stand at their desks in their cells all day, we were also wondering when we would next get a chance to sit down and rest our feet. Thankfully, we did get out eventually but it must have been absolutely horrendous and psychologically terrifying to be in that building for any longer than an afternoon.

To brighten up the final day of our trip, we finished with a typical German meal in Schöneberger. I personally had Schnitzel. It was very what the Germans would call “gemütlich,” which means sort of cosy and comfortable and wholesome. Somewhere you could happily sit for hours with family or friends drinking beer and stroking the dog that sat lazily in a corner. For dessert I shared a Kaiserschmarrn with a friend, which is sort of a pancake covered in icing sugar. When it arrived there was the most enormous amount and it was a miracle we managed to finish it between us. I don’t know how you were supposed to have a whole one to yourself!

Overall it was a thoroughly memorable trip with so many amazing experiences and I’m incredibly grateful to the German department for organising it, especially Mr Ball who has infinite energy and the ability to galvanise and enthuse students. I would love to go back to Berlin, maybe even to work there for a while. It’s an incredible city bursting with life and culture despite its past.

The History of Shelsley Walsh

First opened in 1905, Shelsley Walsh is the oldest standing motor racing venue in the world, and it’s only up the road from Worcester, near Abberley. (It is in fact someone’s driveway!)

The first event was held on Saturday, 12 August 1905. The first winner was Ernest Instone in his 35hp Daimler, who established the first hill record at 77.6 seconds and with an average speed of 26.15 mph. In those days performance was based upon a formula of power and number of seats/passengers and so all cars were required to carry full ‘touring’ trim and a full load of passengers. The winner was then calculated by multiplying the car’s time (seconds) by horsepower and then divided by total weight (including weight of passengers). In some cases it was questionable whether or not the car would actually make it to the finish at all! The S’s are pretty steep!

The Racing Breakthrough

In 1913, the laws were lifted on competing cars and so the first racing cars started to appear in the paddock. This of course meant that times started to get faster and faster and on the 7 June 1913, the record of 1911 (63.4) was broken by over 8 seconds in Joseph Higginson’s Vauxhall 30-98 with a 55.2 second run. There was only one event each year between 1905 and 1926, but after 1913, due to the interruption of the Great War, all racing was forced to stop. Racing resumed in 1920.

The First Legend

If you have ever been to Shelsley, you may have seen a very old, very narrow and very silver GN Spider. In 1923, Basil Davenport began his campaign in the GN Spider and broke the record four times between 1926 and then broke his own subsequent record at every meeting until the end of 28. FYI, the steering wheel is wider than the bodywork of the car itself; there are rotating pulleys and chains inside the cockpit, just next to the drivers legs, and you change gear outside of the car. Not sure safety was a concern in 1923!

In 1926, the organisers decided to host two events each year, with closed class competition in the earlier meeting and open class competition in the later meeting. Davenport secured the fastest time of day at every meeting between 1926 and 1928, in both open and closed class events, in his Frazer Nash.

1930s: The Golden Era of Shelsley Walsh

The first event of 1930 was also the first round of the European Hill Climb Championship. The decision was made to spray the road surface with bitumen, an improvement from the original gravel. Hans Stuck lowered Raymond Mays’ time of 45.6 in 1929 to 42.8.

In 1932, there was a huge rainstorm that caused significant damage to the track. It was initially thought that the ‘32 season would have to be cancelled, but thanks to a huge number of volunteers the track was resurrected in time. Excitingly, the only international entry of the ‘32 season was Ettore Bugatti’s son, Jean, and he had entered a four wheel drive Bugatti. Unfortunately, he crashed this car in a practice run, so had to use a conventional rear wheel drive Bugatti for the event.

1932 was also the first year the Hill was documented by the BBC in a live broadcast, which ran for the rest of the year.

In 1933, the Stuck record was broken by Mays and his Riley at 42.2 seconds and then again later that day by Whitney Straight at 41.2 seconds in his Maserati. Straight lowered it again the following June to 40.0. Mays was the first to brake the 40 barrier in May 1935, setting a time of 39.8 in his 1.5 litre ERA. He improved this later in his updated 2.0 ERA to 39.6.

In 1936, Hans Stuck made his return and brought with him a 16-cylinder Auto Union, but the weather meant he was unable to match the time he set in 1930.

At the last meeting pre-World War II, Mays set a new record of 37.37 in his ERA R4D.

Post World War II 

In the fifties, circuit racing started to become more and more popular, and so the spectator count at Shelsley began to shrink. Of course, it cost most people far less to visit Shelsley for a day than a Grand Prix, so the venue still attracted spectators all dressed up and perched on the banks of the track, fingers crossed that no-one left the track unintentionally!

Several formula one drivers competed at Shelsley on a regular basis in this period. Sir Stirling Moss first competed there in 1948 in a Cooper Climax, in which he won his class on his first visit! And later, Grand Prix driver Ken Wharton broke the Hill record four times and Tony Marsh was successful too.

Sydney Allard was a phenomenal wet and dry driver. In the September meeting of 1954, he took the record from Moss for non-supercharged cars, beating Moss by 1.4 seconds and lowering the class time to 38.05.

In the same year, Peter Collins of GP fame made his way up the hill in a 1260cc Cooper-J.A.P, beating the Bugatti rivals. John Cooper led the 500 class in his Cooper followed by Collins in a Cooper and a new car called a Tiger Kitten fell just short of this pair. Mr Cooper achieved a time of 43.13.

Technological Advancements

The sixties saw a leap in understandings of aerodynamics and car stability. The late fifties Grand Prix cars were still fairly upright; it was in the sixties when this changed. Early sixties cars were things such as the Ferrari 156 ‘Sharknose’. Competition cars became low slung and wide, in fact almost square in footprint, such as the Lotus 51a.

Possibly the most revolutionary breakthrough in motorsport was the invention of the slick tyre (or bald tyres as they were known in the day). Alpine arrived for scrutineering at the ‘68 Le Mans and each scrutineer crouched down next to the delicate wings of the no.30 Alpine A220 to see bald tyres! As we know, tyres are maybe the most significant variable in racing today.

1970s – 2000

Alister Douglas-Osborn broke the record 8 times between ‘76 and ‘83. Richard Brown brought it down to 25.34 in 1992. By this time, turbocharging was the thing to do to your Pilbeam single seater, which massively reduced time spent on the straights.

The 21st Century Problem

Because the venue does not actually belong to the MAC, the club leases it from the owners. In 1905, when the Hillclimb started out, the MAC made a lease deal with the owners of the venue of use for 99 years. 2004 would see the end of this lease and therefore a new agreement was urgent! So a new 99 year deal was created. The new lease deal was signed in 2005. To raise this money, the Shelsley Trust was created in order to preserve the sport at Shelsley Walsh.


From ‘92 to ‘01 the record stood unbroken, until the Scottish driver Graeme Wright Jr. collected the £1000 prize for the first sub 25 second time, with a run of 24.85. The record was steadily lowered until 2008. This is a significant year for modern Shelsley goers because in 2008, Martin Groves crossed the line recording a time of 22.71 seconds! He then came back in for the August meeting and reduced it again to 22.58. This record stood until 2021.

On the 15th August 2021, the outright hill record was broken 3 times! One after the other! The atmosphere was incredible. I was in the paddock, Moody on the commentary, everyone huddled around the start line and barn as the drivers launched up to triangle: bang, bang as they shot through the gearbox, sparking at each crossing due to the severe downforce of these cars, through the S’s, absolutely on the limit. Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! And across the line! One record broken! And then again! And then again! They must have been passing champagne and trophies around like pass the parcel!

Wallace Menzies set off first, then Alex Summers and lastly Sean Gould as the current out-right record holder with his gravity defying time of 22.37 seconds.

When and who will break it next? How long do we have to wait for a sub .37? Who knows…?

Nicola Menzies broke the women’s record that same afternoon too! With 24.70 seconds!

When will we see these new records broken? Is it down to the next generation of hillclimbers: Alex Summers, Matt Ryder or Debbie Summers? Will it even be down to a new gen of car with electric assistance?

We shall see…

Here are some brilliant videos of Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb. Immerse yourself in the MEGA onboard video and the fascinating promotional video below…

Watch Jos Goodyear’s blistering 22.86 second run here:

Watch the Shelsley Walsh promo video here:

Claudia Sobey: A Journey To County Rugby

Recently, Claudia Sobey, a lower sixth form pupil at King’s Worcester, has been admitted into the U18 North Midlands rugby team. I managed to get an interview with Miss Sobey to ask her questions about her rugby journey.

GT: Miss Sobey, what ignited your passion for the sport of rugby?

CS: Please, call me Claudia. I think it all started when I lived in Thailand and the school I went to offered touch rugby. The teacher who ran the sessions was very enthusiastic and she always found a way to get us motivated.

GT: Did you continue your pursuit of higher levels of rugby in Thailand?

CS: I did — I was selected for my school varsity team. I played with the years above and it was a real challenge but I had the time of my life with my team and friends.

GT: How did your experience of the sport change when you moved to England?

CS: I deeply missed touch rugby, but I went to Worcester Rugby Club and everyone there was really friendly and so I started playing contact which was a change of pace but I felt I adapted quite well.

GT: Well clearly you have! Do you think that you will take rugby to a higher level?

CS: I’m not sure at this time, but I really enjoy the sport and I feel that enjoyment will stay with me for the rest of my life.

GT: Do you find juggling school life and sport difficult?

CS: I do find it difficult. When you’re doing a lot outside of school it’s hard to keep on top of work. I find myself struggling sometimes, especially maintaining a social life and doing all my art work. I manage though, thanks to the support of my teachers and coaches.

GT: That all sounds very stressful but it seems you have your busy life under control. Thanks for allowing me interview you on your achievement. Any final thoughts?

CS: I’m grateful for the praise that King’s has given me in this area, but I really feel that we should have a girl’s rugby team. Many young women at this school I’m sure would like to join if given the chance.