Saw Richard Thompson in Tampa's historic Tampa Theatre early this year. He played this song which was great! There were rumors that his ex Linda Thompson was also going to be there (unfortunately that didn't happen). Cool concert in a cool venue none the less.
The reference to Box Hill ("And down to Box Hill they did ride") is a road near Dorking in Surrey UK that was one of the first dual carriageway bypass to be built in the UK. It is on a hill and has lovely sweeping curves although has unusual reverse camber in places making it a tad 'interesting'. The road was (and is) very popular to blat down and commands bikes from many a mile and for many years, usually on Sundays.
Sadly, this has now all passed now the filth have put stop to the 'fun' what with speed cameras and plain clothes cars and, well, people killing themselves, but you often still see a bike rally on Sundays at the bottom of the hill.
HearsayDave (a mysterious seaside village with Number Six)
Many years ago I saw Richard Thompson perform this song at the Georgia Theatre in Athens — one man with one guitar under one spotlight. He must have sung it live hundreds of times, and I bet every time it sounded as immediate and urgent as that one. I could almost smell the road dust, fumes, and black leather. But, alas, no redheaded girl. So now the original sounds too tame to me.
This song always makes me want to hear "I Agree With Pat Metheny." ("Kenny's talents are too teeny - he deserves the crap he's going to get. Overdubbed himself on Louis - what a musical chop-suey! Raised his head above the parapet...") The man's a lyrical and musical genius with a wicked, shameless sense of humor. I love him ridiculously.