So Wolfie, like Toad, may have to stop driving.

Toad of Toad Hall (original illustration by E.H.Shepard)

In yesterday’s blog I wrote about my recent visit to the doctor and how I may just have to live with the mildly epileptic symptoms that are left four years after my brain haemorrhage. I can live without going to any more Bridget Riley exhibitions and, if I have to avoid supermarket shopping because of the aggressively bright lighting then that is no tragedy either. Also, Christmas tree lights don’t really need to flash and if they do I shall just look the other way. So I’m not going to get too upset about the news that I may have to avoid strobing effects from lights or images from now onwards.

The other consequence of this is, of course, that I won’t be able to drive. I was hoping that I was now ready to get back behind the wheel but for as long as I have these symptoms, the doctor advises against it.

Toad from The Wind In The Willows (original illustration by E.H. Shepard)

It has been said, I should admit this now, that I have never been the best driver in the world. I may well have enjoyed driving at speed a bit too much and I have been known to take in a bit too much of the passing scenery as I progressed down a pleasant country highway. Some unkind friends, with observations based on experience, have compared me to Toad of Toad Hall, the enthusiastic but accident prone motoring enthusiast from The Wind In The Willows  (1908) by Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932)

Kenneth Graham (1859-1932)

I have to admit that there were similarities – I did drive rather enthusiastically at speed, I did blow the horn a little more than I should have done and I did have more than my share of accidents – mostly prangs but I once drove through a hedge into a ploughed field and, on another occasion, I demolished a set of traffic lights. Maybe I should quit now without regrets.  No promises though, one day, like Toad, I might return.

Mole and Rat from The Wind In The Willows (original illustration by E.H. Shepard)

Meanwhile, there are plenty of more enjoyable ways to travel as shown by E.H.Shepard (1879-1976), the original illustrator of The Wind In The Willows. In that imaginary world where it is almost always a sunny summer’s day in rural England, there really is nothing better than messing about on a boat like Mole and Rat and travelling at a speed where you can take in your surroundings.

E.H. Shepard (1879-1976)

E.H. Shepard had a genius for illustrating and partially inventing the idyllic England of Edwardian summers. Something he repeated, after The Wind In The Willows, in his drawings for Winnie-The- Pooh (1926) by A. A. Milne (1882-1956).

Christopher Robin with Winnie-The-Pooh, Piglet and Eeyore (original illustration by E.H.Shepard)

As A.A. Milne also knew, it is perfectly pleasant going for a country walk too especially when the sun shines and the swallows fly high.

A.A. Milne (1882-1956)

Life doesn’t have to be slow when you can’t drive any more – look at the ebullient Tigger, he did everything at speed. I shall miss blowing the horn though.

Tigger with Winnie-The-Pooh and Piglet (original illustration by E.H.Shepard)

So I’m not complaining. All I need are continuous summer days in an English landscape preserved for eternity from the British government’s latest foolish idea: covering our landscape with new houses. Hopefully, like their other projects, selling our woodlands for instance, it will all come to nothing. Now, just in case you don’t get the Toad reference, here is a clip from the movie:


  1. Colin,

    If it's any consolation, I share your inability to not drop to the floor under the influence of flashing lights and odd visual experiments. What's more, I often have to close my eyes when watching television commercials or films where the camera is not held steady or a car is shown circling fast up a mountain road.

    While I still drive I am terrible at it, never have been all that skilled behind the wheel and fairly certain this deficit will only worsen with age. Hopefully I'll be self-aware enough to surrender my keys when the times comes. Ah, the lasting effects of illness, medication & advancing years.

    Will close here as I must call-in prescriptions and hit the American highways to retrieve them. Fellow citizens beware.


  2. So sorry Colin (and Brian)! I would miss tooling around in my vehicle. It's a necessity where I live, so if I couldn't drive I would have to move someplace more urban. I love the Toad comparison, though.

  3. It's a pain Brian, sorry you have a similar problem – I can't the the John Travolta of my local dance club any more these days. It's good you don't have to hand in your car keys though.

    I know what you mean Margaret, I used to live in the a remote rural part of Sussex with little public transport – it would have had to move I suspect if this had happened when I was out there. Then again, I would probably not have survived my brain haemorrhage either as I was much further away from medical help than i am here in Lewes.

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