Although I was brought up surrounded by poetry, I don’t remember being aware that any of the adults around me actually wrote poems; not even light verse. Not until I was studying for A levels, that is.
I don’t know how I found out that the Maths teacher was a poet, and I think the juxtaposition of maths and poetry struck me as slightly strange at the time. He spoke of maths as a language, though, and I’m sure he was fascinated by the mathematical patterning of the Welsh poetry forms.
Now, in the poetry group I belong to, most of the members have some technical leaning – physics, maths, robotics, IT… – and I am almost more surprised to find a poet whose background is pure arts. I myself have a fairly strange mix of language and technology skills.
During a conversation about travel this week, a friend claimed to have “driven to the moon and back three times at least.” This seems to demand to be used as the basis for a poem, and my romantic self immediately started sketching lyrical possibilities.
Then the practical side butted in: the moon is around 240,000 miles away, but what is the life expectancy of a car motor?
An online check suggests it’s only around 130,000 miles. (I don’t think someone driving to the moon will find many mechanics en route to do regular engine tunings.) Presumably, then, he’s been driving around with a spare engine in the boot for the return journey.
I can’t really leave this without recounting the story of the two old ladies who bought brand new Skodas back in the Seventies.
“Mavis, dear,” says one, looking worried after opening the car bonnet; “They seem to have forgotten to put the engine in my car.”
“Don’t worry, Ivy,” her friend replies; “My car’s got a spare in the boot.”
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