Magazine article The Spectator

Let Me Dream On

Magazine article The Spectator

Let Me Dream On

Article excerpt

I'm currently in Cornwall with my family and whenever I spend a lot of time with my children I 'm constantly reminded of the opening lines of 'This Be the Verse': 'They fuck you up, your mum and dad. / They may not mean to, but they do. / They fill you with the faults they had / And add some extra, just for you.'

One of the faults my late father passed on to me was an obsession with sports cars. As he cruised along the motorway in his Austin Maxi at a steady 70mph he would point out every fast car that passed us, usually accompanied by a barrage of facts:

'Ooh look. That's a Lotus E sprit.

I think that's an S1 - yes, it's an S1.

I t has the same four-cylinder engine that was used in the Jensen Healey.'

This lifelong interest of his wasn't a complete affectation. As a teenage boy at Dartington Hall School, he'd developed a man crush on the racing driver and second world war fighter ace Whitney Straight, the son of the school's co-founder Dorothy E lm-hirst. Straight had gone up to Cambridge by the time my father arrived and already competed in his first grand prix. My father vividly recalled a thrilling ride from Dartington to London in Straight's Brooklands Riley in which they averaged 90mph.

This exposure to motor racing at an impressionable age left my father with a yearning to own an expensive sports car. Throughout my childhood, he was always on the point of buying one and we spent many a happy hour poring over motoring magazines and discussing the comparative merits of different classic cars.

I t was taken for granted that the vehicle in question would be British, but should it be an Aston Martin DB5 or an E -Type Jag?

I t wasn't until I was relatively old - well into my twenties - that I realised he was never going to act on this impulse.

My three sons are now aged five, six and eight and, like most little boys, they're fascinated by fast cars.

F or the past year or so, I 've been cultivating this interest and, without quite realising it, repeating the conversations my father used to have with me. As I putter along the motorway in my VW Transporter, I find myself pointing out the sports cars overtaking us, adding little factoids I 've gleaned from What Car? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.