Living at the far west of Cornwall, Gray Lightfoot has started writing again. His job as a bus driver gives him the opportunity to play with words in his head as he drives past bus stops full of angry or bemused passengers. He is writing and performing poetry in the hope of making audiences laugh.
You might think driving around the lanes of Cornwall in a double-decker bus is not the most conducive profession for thinking about poetry… but you would be surprised to know just how much thinking time a bus driver has (usually while they are waiting for a hapless tourist to reverse their 4×4 into a farm gateway).
As the first Lightfoot of his bloodline to be born out of Cornwall for at least three hundred years, Gray displays all the passion of an exile in his writing. His ancestors include Cornish farmers on his father’s side and Cornish tin miners and fisherman on his mother’s.
Gray is inspired by the landscape of the Cornwall he views from the cab window. Poems such as Merry Maidens, The Town Centre Lizard of Helston, Murmurations: Marazion Marsh, I’m in Love with the B3306, Ode to Porthcurno, The West Cornish Bus Driver’s Prayer and On Becoming A Penzance Pirate have all been inspired by the view from his cab (not to mention his a poem, unsurprisingly called A View From A Cab, excerpt below)
I’ve seen in a winter-rimed mirror
The careworn face beset by the wind
Of England’s most westerly driver
Writing rhyme on his own at Lands End
So, next time you’re at a bus stop and the driver sails past your outstretched hand with a faraway look in his eyes—don’t be angry with him. You just might be witnessing the birth of another (ahem!) marvellous poem.