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.
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)
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.
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 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).
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.
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.
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: