Riding with Lackhart's Lancers
the road with Amy Foster, we are travelling North. We are carrying a cargo
of medical supplies to the town of Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales. I’m
travelling in the rear-most vehicle, a rocket-launcher armed luxury, driven
by former amateur boxer Ronnie Goldsmith. He tells me that I’m travelling
in Foster’s usual position.
“That’s Amy through and through,” says Ronnie, his East End roots unmistakeable. "She’ll put ‘erself out for anyone.”
Is that a good trait in a leader?
“Dunno, love, but I’ll tell you this for free. No-one has ever left Amy’s crew. She looks after us, we look after ‘er.”
After several hours driving along the heavily-patrolled motorway, we turn onto more dangerous roads. After my experiences with Lackhart, I brace myself for combat. The towns up here are close-knit, but many have suffered violently from the Scourge. Lackhart’s squad would have their fingers resting on the firing studs.
I notice that Goldsmith is altogether more relaxed. “You don’t want to mix us up with that toff. Amy’s different. She’s got proper class.”
As if in response, the boxy estate car carrying Foster pulls into a field. I scan the horizon, looking for the threat, but see none. The car comes to a halt beside a straggling hedge, and Foster gets out carrying a rucksack.
“’Ere we go again,” sighs Goldsmith, pulling into the field as well. Now I notice that his fingers have moved to the firing studs. “She can’t ‘elp ‘erself. Someone in trouble waves ‘er down, and she ‘as to stop. She’s goin’ to get us all in deep shit one day.” The words may be complaining, but the pride in his voice is unmissable.
Foster straightens and walks back to our vehicle, pushing her mousy hair back as she walks. “Nothing serious, a child trod on a rusty nail. I gave her a tetanus shot, she’ll be fine.” She looks at Ronnie. “Ready to move on.”
“Right you are, luv,” he says, and the convoy pulls back onto the road. An hour later, the delivery is made.
The couriers represent a vital link for our communities. With the railways in disuse, and only the major roads protected by the Motorway Patrol, it takes the bravery and determination of these crews to maintain a physical connection between London and the Outlands. As Lackhart puts it, “for many of these people, we are their only contact with London civilisation. They can’t travel there, and we give them a glimpse of metropolitan life.” Or as Foster says, “we can’t hide behind our concrete walls for ever. These people need our services, they need the human contact and they need the supplies. We make sure they get them.”