Wednesday, 9 February 2011

What do you drive to?

It's Radio 4 or Radio 3 for me on long car journeys - which are quite rare when I'm driving alone. Usually if I'm driving for a few hours I've got the family with me and we're all fighting over the CD player. Thank goodness for i-pods. They keep the kids quiet.

On those rare occasions where I have the CD player all to myself I try to match the sounds to the mood. When I drove up to Manchester for a job interview recently I bobbed on a U2 CD, assuming it'd put me in an upbeat frame of mind. I didn't get the job but the CD did the trick.

Heading down through the Midlands today to see a client about some freelance work (how pretentious does that sound, 'client'?), I played Jacques Brel's Quand on n'a que l'amour. There's nothing like some Belgian/Gallic melodrama to brighten up the M6. Why doesn't someone do something about that? If this was France they'd have some sculptures along the crash-barriers, or at least painted screens so we don't actually have to see Birmingham ...

For some brain-food when I wasn't thinking about the meeting ahead, I played a CD I'd borrowed of George Szirtes reading his poems. Now I like listening to poetry in the car. I got through the whole of Paradise Lost on a series of trips to South Wales.

Coming back, it was chill-out time, so I unwound with The Unthanks - suicides, press-gangs and fatal fishing boat accidents have never sounded so harmonious.

I don't often drive down that spur of the M6. So I hadn't realised they'd turned Fort Dunlop into a Travelodge. What the ..?!

They've bolted a big blue hotel onto the back of it. At least the original building's still there, though. I always look out for it. That and the whopping big empty gasometers. I suppose those are the closest we'll get to sculpture along there.

But who cares when it's sing-a-long Jacques Brel? Well, if I knew the words I would ...

What're your driving tunes?

Or do you travel everywhere by train?


  1. Just to keep things in perspective: when there is precisely one train each way a day (and then only 6 out of 7) and the one train doesn't go anywhere you want to go at a time you might want to go, there isn't much choice but driving.

    I've found that I listen to less and less as things go on - I'm irritated by most of what blether I hear, and I've heard my CDs too often.

    And there is, in fact scenery and traffic to watch.

    Horseman Bree from the Ship

  2. Well, get some new CDs! ;-)

    Scenery depends on where you live. There ain't much scenery in Birmingham where I was driving when I thought of this one ...

    Mind you, I was down there yesterday exploring the Art Gallery and the Jewellery Quarter. My Grandad grew up near there. I'm half Welsh, half Brummie. I was taken with the Jewellery Quarter, very taken with it.