(June 7th to 14th)

Format: Triple

She whooped into veiled hollows of elm and Sussex oak; she devoured infinite perspectives of park palings; she surged through forgotten hamlets, whose single streets gave back, reduplicated, the clatter of her exhaust, And since the King's highway is used for every purpose save traffic, in mid-career she stepped aside for, or flung amazing loops about, the brainless driver, the driverless horse, the drunken carrier, the engaged couple, the female student of the bicycle and her staggering instructor, the pig, the perambulator, and the infant school, with the grace of Nellie Farren (upon whom be the Peace) …


This is from “Steam Tactics” (1902) in Traffics and Discoveries.

The narrator, accompanied by Petty Officer Pyecroft and an engineer from the Royal Navy, have been driving across Sussex in an engaging but ailing steam car. After various adventures they are rescued by an acquaintance in a splendid and powerful machine, for a joyful journey home.

One view called me to another; one hill top to its fellow, half across the county, and since I could answer at no more trouble than the snapping forward of a lever, I let the county flow under my wheels. The orchid-studded flats of the East gave way to the thyme, ilex, and grey grass of the Downs; these again to the rich cornland and fig-trees of the lower coast, where you carry the beat of the tide on your left hand for fifteen level miles; and when at last I turned inland through a huddle of rounded hills and woods I had run myself clean out of my known marks.


This is from “They” (1904) in Traffics and Discoveries.

The story-teller is driving across Sussex into unknown territory. He happens on a beautiful old house, set in a secret garden, where he is glad to hear the cries of happy children. He later finds that they are ghosts, including his own little lost daughter…

… the life of the English road which to me is one renewed and unreasoned orgy of delight. The mustard-coloured scouts of the Automobile Association; their natural enemies, the unjust police; our natural enemies, the deliberate market-day cattle, broadside-on at all corners, the bicycling butcher-boy a furlong behind; road-engines that pulled giddy-go-rounds, rifle galleries, and swings, and sucked snortingly from wayside ponds in defiance of the noticeboard; traction-engines, their trailers piled high with road metal; uniformed village nurses, one per seven statute miles, flitting by on their wheels; governess-carts full of pink children jogging unconcernedly past roaring, brazen touring-cars…


This is from “The Vortex” (1914) in A Diversity of Creatures.

A party are motoring out on a summer’s day, planning a picnic. They are plagued by a garrulous companion, who lectures them about schemes for the Empire. Later they rather unwisely let him take the wheel, and he crashes into a cyclist who is carrying boxes of bees. They swarm out into a crowded little town, with painful and hilarious results.