squaring the circle

Classic MG dashboard

The problem with taking photos at a classic car gathering is not just the hordes of people who jostle your elbow or wander absent-mindedly into the frame.

Even when you get there before anyone else, there are far too many polished surfaces: you end up as the main feature of at least half the pictures you take, which might not be quite so bad if the surfaces didn’t act as distorting mirrors.

Another problem is that too many of the cars there are altogether too familiar and you start to reminisce…

You remember the glamorous couple who’d park their cars on the road you grew up on: she drove a lilac E-type Jag and he drove a Chevrolet; then the Chemistry teacher you had a crush on, who once drove you home from school the long way round in his battered Triumph Herald and made the most improper suggestions; a couple of years later, there was another Triumph: the lad with the little red sports car who faithfully drove you to and from lectures at university just because you had the nerve to ask him to… You remember hand cranking the Morris Minor – known as Ermintrude because she was a cow – when she gave up the ghost on the inhospitable limestone landscape of World’s End; and the day the amateur dramatics society drove out en masse from London to a picnic at someone’s private windmill in a convoy of classic Rolls Royces; the American friend who named his daughter Shelby after his car; the friend with the classic Morgan soft-top and that mad drive along the PCH just to buy ice creams in Laguna Beach…

For someone who claims little interest in cars, I have far too many memories – some of which may even be true!

Anyway, the only way to make a successful blog post from the photographs is to do what the title says and square the circle: to crop in and focus on the steering wheels. If you make it to the bottom of the post, you’ll find a relevant poem.

classic car steering wheel

classic car steering wheel

classic car steering wheel

classic car steering wheel

classic car wooden steering wheel

classic car steering wheel

classic car steering wheel

classic car steering wheel

night drive

High-beam headlights reveal
glimpses of the road ahead
ribboning grey into the dark.
To the north, a belisha globe rises
behind mountains made ragged
by pines. He says, “I’ve driven
to the moon and back three times
at least.” I watch his hands
on the wheel and hope
he’ll take me with him
next time.


For anyone who cares about the workings of poetry, I posted an earlier version of this few years ago in the post Dissecting a moondream, when it had got stuck in a rut and I couldn’t shake it free. There I point out some of the things I knew were wrong at the time. I think this version resolves at least some of them.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

One thought on “squaring the circle”

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