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Michael Stuart reflects upon a road trip

Yesterday turned out to be exhausting. First I collected my brother on Putney Heath and then drove to the coast to join a lunch my father had organised with his cousin and her partner at a hotel near Chichester.

The event passed off most satisfactorily. Being on alert for family nostalgia and memories, I was pleasantly surprised to learn from my father’s cousin [my apologies – I cannot work out what relation she is to me] something I had not known before, viz. that for several years she had been personal secretary to the long-time cricket correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, E.W. (‘Jim’) Swanton.

SwantonSadly, when pressed for juicy gossip or anecdotes, for which she has something of a reputation, she had nothing revelatory to offer. To her, Swanton had simply been a ‘real gentleman’.

The only time he reacted strongly with her was over religion. Not being a believer herself, one day when some sect member had arrived at his home to ‘spread the world’, she had giggled at him and sent him on his way. Swanton had taken great exception at her attitude – she had not previously appreciated that he had a strong faith.

In discussion afterwards at the lunch table, her partner suggested that Swanton’s religious sensitivity may have been grounded in the time he spent during WW2 as a Japanese prisoner of war.

After the lunch, we took my father home for a cup of tea. He was expecting a body-work shop to return his car during the afternoon (some lady had driven into it whilst it was parked in a residential street). When we learned that they now couldn’t deliver it back until Wednesday, my brother and I volunteered to go and collect it there and then.

This required a 150-minute round trip to the other side of Southampton in the M27 afternoon rush-hour, returning in convoy with my brother driving my father’s car.

Only then could we set off to return to London. One subject that came up in conversation was the entertainment value of the Pistorius trial. My brother commented that, should he ever be faced in court by prosecuting counsel Nel, he’d simply Nel to list his alleged crimes and immediately plead guilty.

In all, I reckon I spent just shy of six hours driving yesterday. It may not surprise my readers that, having reached home at 8.40pm last night, I made myself a sandwich and then went straight to bed.



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About Michael Stuart

After university, Michael spent twelve years working for MELODY MAKER before going freelance. He claims to keep doing it because it is all he knows. More Posts