About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I'm co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Wednesday 31 March 2021

About Black Beauty and Boxer

I got my car twelve years ago, the week my then husband departed for pastures blonder. I'd passed my driving test 20-odd years earlier, just after we'd got married, but I hadn't driven since and in the intervening years, I lost all confidence that I was any good at anything. I couldn't even look at it parked outside my house for the first few weeks. 

Then I got my dog, Ted, and used him as an excuse to go out driving to new places for long walks. I learnt how to be single and a dog owner and a driver all at the same time. I soon realised I was quite a novelty in the poetry community ... a poet who doesn't need a lift. It meant I could make up for all the lifts I'd been given by kind-hearted drivers over the years, even if they weren't the same people. What goes round comes round. 

We all aged ... Ted, the car and me, but they did it at a faster rate than I did. Ted died last September, and now it's time for me to get a newer car.  

I was at work when they came to take my silver Astra away. I'm glad I wasn't there to see it loaded onto the tow truck. If anyone had told me twelve years ago that I'd grow to love driving, I'd have thought them mad, but as long as I don't have to reverse, I do enjoy it. And I loved my old car, one of the last links with my old dog (being full of his dog hair and sand from his paws), and would have kept it longer if I didn't have to make long journeys to see my mother and my daughter. 

It's with a guilty pang that I realise I didn't take many photos of it on my journeys. It wasn't picturesque, unlike Dru's Moggy which is often in the background or even a focal point of compositions. This photo was taken in Deerhurst on the banks of the River Severn solely because the Morris Traveller next to it wasn't Dru's. (And is even more not Dru's now she's driving a red Micra.)

I also feel guilty that when I was prompted to take a photo of it, it was usually because something ignominious was happening. This was at South Mimms services back in 2015. Son the Elder and I never did get to Suffolk for our long weekend. 

This is one of the last photos: in the background of a picture taken at Mud Dock car park when Cwtch took us for a walk down there a couple of weeks back. Easy to see because it was so empty. 

My new car was registered in Bangor and seems to have spent time in Wilmslow, Cheshire and Westbury, Wilts, until I spotted it for sale in a dealership in Newport. For some reason I have a habit of likening the life stories of inanimate objects to the plot of 'Black Beauty' and in the case of this car, Bangor was Farmer Grey's farm where Beauty was born,Wilmslow was probably Squire Gordon's Birtwick Park, where Black Beauty was so happy, and Westbury stands in for Earlshall Park, where Beauty is a carriage horse until a drunken Reuben Smith causes him to fall and scar his knees, whereupon he is sold on. Although my new car doesn't have scarred knees, I can't help feeling it's come down in the world a bit. I'm probably kindly Jerry Barker, the cab driver. 

As for my old car, I'm trying not to think of poor Boxer at the end of 'Animal Farm', but it's hard not to. A better way is to think of it being recycled, as we all are in the end, I suppose. 

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