Thursday, 15 May 2008

Charles Hubert Hastings Parry and the Motor Car


We do not often think of composers as being sailors or motor car drivers. Yet Parry was enthusiastic about both these pursuits. He had a yacht called 'The Wanderer’ that was finally confiscated from by the admiralty during the Great War. And he must be one of the earliest examples of a composer being booked for speeding! Perhaps we seem him as a kind of Mr Toad behind the wheel? 
Charles L. Graves in his somewhat hagiographical biography writes:-

“Motoring provided him with an ever-increasing variety of exciting experiences. In June 1906, writing to his son-in-law Plunket Greene about a proposed concert at Scarborough at which the alternatives were Job or "The Love that casteth out Fear ", he an­nounces that the Panhard had broken down, and on October 22, after discussing chauffeurs and the Audit dinner at Highnam, he goes on:
“We were nearly finished off coming up to town in the Gladiator yesterday. The roads were just awful and we had no non-skids. She ran clean out of control four times; at Cheltenham clean off the road on to the side-walk between a couple of trees, and at Uxbridge she turned clean round on her axis and went backwards on to the side-walk. It's not pleasant, that sort of fun."
The most lurid account of Parry’s rashness as a motorist is given by a member of his family. He drove down the steep and winding road which leads from Savernake Forest into Marlborough at such a pace that when they reached the, bottom the chauffeur got out and was sick! There is also the story of his stopping on the road into Gloucester to take up an old woman, burdened with baskets, on the way to the market. "When they arrived she was so overcome by the speed of her transit that she had to be given restoratives. The allegation that, after acquiescing in the imposition of fines on motorists for exceeding the speed limit by his fellow-magistrates on the Gloucester bench, he was in the habit of paying the fines himself cannot be verified but is intrinsically probable.”

Hubert Parry by Charles L. Graves Volume 2 pp39f
n.b. the car is a Panhard - the driver is not CHHP!!

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