Long Lane With Turnings
Leonard Setright was one of the twentieth century’s most influential, opinionated and idiosyncratic motoring journalists; described as ‘more Isaiah Berlin than Jeremy Clarkson’, everything he wrote was inspired by his knowledge of and passion for all things automotive. Long Lane with Turnings is a dryly witty memoir of his early years and the author’s last book, left unfinished at the time of his death in the summer of 2005. We encounter Setright as a child standing behind his father’s driving seat in family Wolseley, enjoining him to ‘Go fast!’ and taking an early delight in machines of all sorts, from the camera-like precision of the Setright ticket machine for bus conductors (manufactured by his father’s firm) to his first bicycle. We also see him developing that independence of mind which so characterized his writing as a critic: readers will savour his pitch-perfect descriptions of many of the cars that he drove, be it the Mini (‘a very convincing little brick’), a Renault 4 (‘swaying like a sailing dinghy in corners’) or his beloved Bristols. The portrait of the writer which emerges from these pages is marvellously detailed, quirky and full of warmth.