The thought that pleasure motoring in Great Britain ends at the close of this month must hold many regrets for those who cannot use sports cars for journeys of national importance, on what, for want of a better term, we still wrongly refer to as “Supplementary” fuel rations. Such regrets are apt to take one right back to pre-war days. In an age of black-out and work and saving and salvage I found myself on a run back to London from an autumn Donington meeting. St. Albans and Dunstable, indicating that London is nearly achieved, are yet to be negotiated, for we have not passed that glaringly illuminated stocking factory or the A.C. plug place, but approaching traffic is calling for more juggling than ever with the dimmer button and family saloons hurrying into “pub.” yards for a last one before closing time call for our increased attention. In the car discussion of the day’s racing is at last on the wane and one’s mind marshals the tasks of the coming week: letters to write and expected, a car to see and perhaps buy, alterations to experiment with in the garage, friends to contact…. Mist is hanging around the hedgerows; trials and the “Brighton” will soon be upon us.
What divers aspects this motoring has! Brooklands, with its bleating loud-speakers, sun glaring from the concrete, men and their womenfolk arriving in a pageant of cars and colour. An absorbing afternoon for the spectator, but a great day in the life of a man who is driving, to whom arising that morning was not quite as arising on other mornings, for, even at that hour, there was a sense of something pending, of months of toil about to crystallise into failure or success….
A group of youthful enthusiasts lunching on simple fare in a country farmhouse 300 miles from their homes and places of toil, to which they are about to return after having motored through the night to spectate at “Bluehills,” in humble little cars, which hard work in the garage has endowed with no mean performance and entire dependability. A happy group of people these, to whom a motor-car is of even greater moment than to the Eastertide holidaymakers on the nearby beach, whose small saloons figure so largely in their work and their play.
A sports car, seemingly alone in the night, cruising rapidly North, its occupants deeming a day thus saved invaluable, for they are young and living every minute of their lives. So the mind runs on, ever finding some fresh aspect of the game and, finding, seeks to analyse the happiness that once was ours.
That remembered run down in the dark from Donington, composed confusedly of fragments from several such journeys, somehow savours of an atmosphere of indifference. Sports cars parked outside road-houses and hotels, their owners seeking synthetic entertainment as an antidote to fatigue. Pools of light cast from café windows, the wail of a saxophone floating from a dance hall, unmasked headlamps sweeping the pavements of a town, momentarily revealing a belated pedestrian belonging to quite another world. Intoxicating holiday nights far up above the sea, screen flat, flies drifting back to spatter on one’s goggles, reminder, in spite of the coolness of the air, of a sweltering day. The car-radio playing softly; perhaps someone beside you who means more than any motor-car (if that is possible)….
Yet, had we known it, the sands were running out. All that went with the war. And now, so far as pleasure motoring is concerned, the sands are again running out. Make the most of that precious “basic.” And take heart in the knowledge that the trend of events shows that Hitler’s days, too, are numbered and that Victory, for which we are sacrificing so much, is now in sight,
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the way of things
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