GUY HENDERSON: Staying in town they call Malice
THERE'S an aeroplane on a stick in the middle of the Town Called Malice. It's like an enlarged version of one of those Airfix kits you used to make when you were younger.
It's a silver Hawker Hunter, and it's up there on a stick in front of the town centre bingo hall.
Apparently it was the last Hawker Hunter ever built, and it was hoisted up on to its stick by a businessman who thought it would be a good way of attracting attention to the bingo hall and its ancillary attractions.
You certainly can't miss it.
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Woking is the Town Called Malice.
Paul Weller came from there, and penned the Jam's big hit song about his home town.
It's not a flattering portrait, but he's a native so he can say what he likes.
The three members of the Jam are from Woking. So is Dr Who Peter Davison, McLaren boss Ron Dennis, England goalkeeper Robert Green, comedian Harry Hill and chef Delia Smith.
The Spice Girls began their recording careers in a Woking studio.
In H.G Wells' The War of the Worlds, Woking is the town in which the Martians make their first footfall on Earth, prior to laying waste to much of south-east England.
Wells lived there, and apparently delighted in horrifying his friends while he was writing the book by describing to them in great detail how his Martian tripods were marching three-leggedly around the place destroying their verdant village greens and half-timbered cottages.
You can see why they might have been upset, because while Woking is largely unlovely, the surrounding countryside is magnificent.
It struck me that, apart from dashing through on the M25 and once passing through Abinger Hammer on a coach going to Brands Hatch, I had never been to Surrey before.
We were there to see the tour of Britain pass by, the cycle race that had drawn thousands of people to the roadside in Devon the previous day.
We had been at the Goodwood Revival while all the fun was going on down in Devon, but as luck would have it, the following day's action in the big bike race would be played out through leafy Surrey.
We stayed in Woking overnight, in a chain hotel where they tried to charge us £15 for parking and would have taken £13.50 each off us for breakfast if we had been stupid enough to sign up for it.
What we actually did was to park in the multi-storey next door for £4 and eat like royalty the following morning in a High Street pub for a tenner all in, frothy coffee included.
We drove out of Woking in search of bicycle racing, our map of the route spread out before us.
It wasn't hard to find.
First of all, there were bright yellow arrows on lamp-posts and road signs showing the cyclists - or rather the convoy of cars and bikes ahead of them - the way to go.
Secondly, there were cyclists everywhere.
Mrs H studied them intently as we threaded our way around them in the lanes.
"Don't take this the wrong way," she said.
"But there are an awful lot of middle-aged men among them."
And she was right.
If cycling is the new golf, we had stumbled into the country's biggest driving range.
There were women here and there, of course, but Mrs H had it spot-on. It was a cavalcade of Lycra-clad chaps.
We found a parking spot on Staple Lane, a third category climb about 60 kilometres into the day's route.
Actually we felt a bit guilty, because ours was one of only about a dozen cars up there.
Everyone else had arrived by bike.
They arrived at the top showing varying degrees of suffering. Some of the middle-aged men looked as if they had barely broken sweat up the big hill.
Others were barely keeping enough forward momentum to stay upright.
A small boy tore up the hill on a cheap mountain bike that looked as if cost about the same as a decent pair of Lycra shorts, overtaking wheezing fellows all the way, then rolled back down out of sight to climb it again.
He did this about five times to amuse himself while waiting for the race to come by. The wheezing fellows sat on the grass verge, breathing heavily and eating cereal bars.
Children chalked the names of their favourite riders on the road, just like they do on the monster climbs of the Tour de France.
One huge blue "GO JTL" in honour of Devon rider and eventual race winner Jonathan Tiernan-Locke stretched all the way across from one verge to the other.
Another young lad started to scrawl the name of his favourite rider across the road. With a look of absolute concentration he got as far as "HOU" in giant letters before running out of road.
With a sigh he added a giant "SE" underneath. We guessed Kristian House wouldn't mind.
When the race did come through, it came in a whirlwind of whooping police bikes, official cars and cyclists.
We waved and cheered like mad, first for the Vacansoleil rider Wesley Kreder in the leading bunch and then for JTL himself, tucked safely in the peloton two minutes behind, with the leader's gold jersey on his shoulders
And with that the race was gone, and the Lycra-clad gentlemen hoisted themselves gingerly into their saddles, clicked into their cleats and were gone, back down the big hill.
The small boy was probably back in the Town Called Malice before the old chaps even reached the bottom.
And the chalk on the road will still say "Go JTL" for a good few weeks yet.