The Corner

Lady Driver

I’m not quite sure what point you’re making, Rick, about Betjeman’s poem “To a Lady Driver.”  I don’t know it, and it’s not in the 1979 “Collected,” which is all I have on my shelf.  However, most of Betjeman’s poems were written in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.  Was it not common to poke fun at lady drivers in the U.S.A. during those decades?  

Whatever, here is another of Betjeman’s motoring poems.  The lousy driver here is male, to restore the yin-yang balance.

—Meditation on the A30  

A man on his own in a car

  Is revenging himself on his wife;

He opens the throttle and bubbles with dottle

  And puffs at his pitiful life.

“She’s losing her looks very fast,

  She loses her temper all day;

That lorry won’t let me get past,

  This Mini is blocking my way.

“Why can’t you step on it and shift her!

  I can’t go on crawling like this!

At breakfast she said that she wished I was dead–

  Thank heavens we don’t have to kiss.

“I’d like a nice blonde on my knee

  And one who won’t argue or nag.

Who dares to come hooting at ME?

  I only give way to a jag.

“You’re barmy or plastered, I’ll pass you, you bastard–

  I WILL overtake you.  I WILL!”

As he clenches his pipe, his moment is ripe

  And the corner’s accepting its kill.

[A30=a major English road, southwest out of London; dottle=spittle; lorry=truck;  jag=Jaguar (sporty car);  plastered=drunk]

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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