US6 – I’ll take the bus this time

(Jonathan Richman)

The sprog, my American son-in-law and I went to the supermarket. Grandad drive this time, said sprog. Your grandad is a rare example of an adult male who cannot drive, said son-in-law.

Well I brooded on this. Not so rare, I thought; I’ve collected quite a few examples of non-drivers over the years. But a search in my computer for “non-driver” only yielded five names:

  • Deborah Orr (a British columnist who I have read)
  • Lynne Hanley (a British author who I have not read)
  • Barbara Castle (an excellent British minister of transport in the sixties)
  • Eric Bristow (a British professional darts player)
  • David Sedaris (an American comedian of whom all I know comes from the article from which I learned that he is a non-driver)

I’d also saved an unhelpful quote from a Finnish novel, The Winter War (Philip Teir, 2013): Max did not have a driving licence. When they met, thirty years before, Katriina had admired his refusal to give in to the conformism of the car. Now, she scorned him for the same reason. She claimed that, right from the start, it had been more a question of laziness and meanness than of concern for the environment.

I’m pretty sure Picasso couldn’t drive, I said to my daughter. Nor could Shakespeare, she said. (Incidentally Jonathan Richman takes a different view on this point. According to the Modern Lovers song Pablo Picasso, The girls would turn the color of the avocado/When he would drive down the street in his El Dorado.)

Rio del Mar 818 concrete boat road.JPGCliff Drive, Aptos

Although it is great to be reminded of a minister of transport who did not drive, I have to admit that this collection of names does not fully refute my son-in-law’s claim. (Especially as Sedaris doesn’t, apparently, count because he was born in  New York…)

Please send me examples of famous non-drivers!


I received a comment on the last blog from a Mr R.M. of Brussels. He writes, “Quoting Springsteen (and thus comparing the boardwalks of New Jersey with California) is stretching poetic licence a little – it’s a bit like having Reg Dixon on the Blackpool tower organ playing ‘I do like to be beside the seaside’ when you are talking about Frinton-on-sea!!!”.

Well, if Mr R.M. knows any songs about the Santa Cruz boardwalk, for example in the oeuvre of Neil Young, he is welcome to direct me to them. And yes, I do know that the Richman song I’ve used this time has nothing to do with cars. (“You take the plane, I’ll take the bus this time.)


long things USA Aptos 818.JPG

The things in the picture are all long and narrow. Look at these European equivalents:

less long things Europe Aptos 818.JPG

(I didn’t bring kitchen paper and newspapers on holiday with me.) Until I started brooding on driving licences, this blog was going to be about rectangles. The only song I thought of was “I get along without you very well” by Frank Sinatra. Spared you that at least, Mr R.M.

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Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

5 thoughts on “US6 – I’ll take the bus this time”

  1. I guess, being a non-driver, you’re not going further south (where you could enjoy Cannery Row, and quote Dylan songs for us!). Enjoying your posts – happy memories of that bit of California.


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