Cars in books, August 1971

A reader recommended “Another Self”, by James Lee-Milne (Hamish Hamilton, 1970), which has some motoring references in it. There is, for instance, a description of the author being driven to Evesham Station, on his way to school, in 1917, by his mother, in a second-hand Model-T Ford dray. But the author’s memory is sadly at fault in ascribing to it an absence of brake lever and five forward speeds. This Ford was the family war-time substitute for their Minerva landaulette “with its Bedford cord upholstery, two ‘strapontins’, veneered mahogany shelves for calling-cards, smelling-salt bottle and hand mirror, and its netted bulb with speaking tube” which “was jacked high under dustsheets in the motor-house”.

There is brief reference to a Daimler of the early 1920s which met one of the author’s fellow-Etonians near the school for an unlawful escapade, described as high but not so high a boy could stand upright in it, and to a “little Stellite two which his mother used after the war and which “climbed slowly and noisily up Fish Hill” to keep a ballooning appointment. The Minerva appears again after the war, too, being used to take the youthful Lees-Milne to London in search of a job, his father driving it to an exact time schedule, from a list on the dashboard. The author had a motor-scooter, which was apparently reasonably reliable; he was employed for a time by Reuters, whose Chairman, in 1935, had a Rolls-Royce, the punctual arrival of which was extremely important to him.—W.B.