Sunday, 6 September 2009

The glove compartment

The above is the new photo on the CBe website home page (up by the end of next week, I hope), and the face in the driving mirror is my dad. Appropriate for a home page. The photograph was taken (by who?) before he actually became my father. He’s been dead for over fifty years now, and would be surprised to find himself driving through a website, a literary one at that; he was an iron-foundry man and a weekend farmer.

The photo has a late 1940s, early 50s feel. Douglas Dunn’s ‘La Route’ (‘A poem-film, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo’). Camus and the existentialist crowd – there’s a packet of Gauloises in the glove compartment.

On Saturdays we’d drive out to a farm, me in the front with my dad, my mother and my brother behind us. Going down the narrow, twisting, blind-cornered Creskeld Lane, my dad would tell me to open the glove compartment and take out his driving gloves; then he’d remove his hands from the steering wheel, first one and then the other, and I, aged four at most, would fit the gloves onto them. In the back, my mum pretended not to look, maybe even closed her eyes and didn’t open them again until we were on the straight at the bottom of the hill and picking up speed. My dad would glance in the rear-view mirror and grin with delight.