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THE CONTINENT BY MOTOR CAR, ACCORDING TO WALKERLEY PART 1

“THE CONTINENT,” OF COURSE, refers to that place isolated when the English Channel has a significant storm. And Rodney Walkerley was “Athos” of The Motor magazine and author of Motoring Abroad. Here in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow are tidbits gleaned from this latter work.

Motoring Abroad, by Rodney Walkerley, with decorations by Brockbank, Temple Press, 1950.

Getting us off to a proper start, the book’s dedication reads, “To my wife, without whose help and advice this book would have been finished much sooner.” And, note as well, we are to be entertained with the decorative humor of famed British artist Brockbank.

On Post-War Touring. Walkerley recalled, “My wife and I first re-visited France in the early summer of 1946, when the rumbles of war had hardly died away. My wife had the rooted idea that France was full of unemployed Maquis, armed to the teeth with British Sten guns, holding up all motorists for the purpose of robbery; that the starving populace was rooting in the fields and eating grass; that the roads were still mined and that there were no bridges.” 

“Her idea,” Walkerley said, “was exaggerated, although I have to admit that, having had my suitcase filched swiftly and expertly from the car within 20 minutes of our arrival in Paris, her ‘ I told you so’ took a little laughing off.”   

On Honesty of Most Dealings. Walkerley recalls rarely having been cheated monetarily despite his ignorance of local currency: “I used to hold out a handful of money and let the vendor take his due. Something to do with not shooting a sitting bird, I imagine.” 

“The Open Road: tree-lined, sun-drenched, with little traffic, where a man may cruise at 70-75 m.p.h. for half an hour on end in complete safety; the sort of road which alters British ideas of space and time.” This and the following image from Motoring Abroad

On Warning Signage. “Whoever sets up the warning about dangerous corners and cross-roads obviously knows that many drivers will be bowling along at something nearer 70 miles per hour than 30, and sticks up his boards well before the danger zone, so that there is no need for panic-braking.” 

On Speaking with Locals. Walkerley gives an entire chapter to The Phrase-book Englishman, “so that without lowering himself to attempt anything in the nature of correct accent, the Englishman could address the native in the vernacular, beginning, of course, with ‘Parlay Voo Onglay?’—after which, as the native would undoubtedly reply, “But yes, milord….”

“This room is too large, too small, too dark….”  

He continues in a vein similar to that offered here at SimanaitisSays in “Language Trippin’—Goofiness an Option.” Walkerely cited, “There is something wrong with my machine. The blank is broken, is out of gear. My machine has broken down. I have a bent a crank. I have punctured this tyre, this tyre has burst. I wish to transport my car to Blank by rail. Please put my machine in a safe place where no one will touch it.” 

“Personally,” Walkerley then reasoned, “I feel the last remark to be a little unnecessary, as, with tyres like that and derangements as outlined, I cannot imagine anyone touching the thing with a jack-handle.” 

Tomorrow in Part 2, we continue with Walkerley’s sage observations and Brockbank’s witty illustrations. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022 

One comment on “THE CONTINENT BY MOTOR CAR, ACCORDING TO WALKERLEY PART 1

  1. MIke B
    May 10, 2022

    Oh, for the days when one could read things like that, and Manney, and Brockbank, and laugh without feeling overwhelmingly guilty, as we of course now must. Hint: if in the olde days one might have groaned as much as laughed, it’s something that these days is verboten.

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