4. Start Your Engines

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"I'm glad you're home, your father and I have been waiting for you."

These ominous words greeted me before I'd even had the chance to close the front door. I knew that tone of voice too - it was usually accompanied by the words 'we've been thinking' or 'we need to talk'.

"We've been thinking..."

Apparently this time it was the former. 

I followed the words with trepidation, the Apprentice theme tune thundering round and round my head. It was appropriate too - by the looks of things an intense discussion was in full swing, and may have already been going on for some time if the number of empty mugs was anything to go by. 

"Your Mother thinks.."

"WE think..."

"Is this gonna take long?" 

I sighed and took my place at the other end of the table. Picking up one of the mugs I twirled it in my fingers, staring at its sedimentary contents with disgust. 

"Didn't make one for me then?" I observed drily, raising my eyebrows.

"I'm sorry...I...the kettle's still hot"

"Mother sit down I'm JOKING" I told her, gesturing wearily back towards the vacated chair.

I felt the table jolt as she took her seat and braced myself for the expected battle of wills, whatever it happened to be about. Leaning forward I met her gaze steadily, aware that my Father's eyes were also upon me. 

There was a pause.

And then...

"We think you should travel with Jimmy next year...no wait let me finish". Mum held up her hand as I opened my mouth to respond. 

"Mum!" I attempted again.

"Now I know what you're thinking" she carried on, barely pausing for breath "but we think this would be good for you, and good for him to have someone there..."

"...and I can't take that much time off" Dad cut in "but you..."

"But I haven't got anything better to do with my life"I mumbled.  I could see what was coming and repeated my brother's words before they could.

"That's not what I said"

"No, but it's what you meant" I pointed out. 

"We just think it's a good opportunity for you to get out of here while you've got the chance, you won't have to worry about buying your own race tickets at least, you might as well do it while you're young and don't have massive commitments and..."

"It's OK I'm going"

"You're what?" The pair of them exchanged puzzled glances and then stared back at me in stunned silence.

"I'm going" I repeated quietly "I don't know how long I'll stick around for but I'll go out to Melbourne at least.

"But J said that you said..."

"I know what I said - I was there" I pointed out " I said I'd think about it, aaaaaaand I thought about it - I'm going"


Standing in the paddock in Melbourne, that discussion felt like a lifetime ago. For starters there was a great big yellow thing burning in the sky, a sight which hadn't graced the British Isles in some time. Unfortunately beyond the weather things weren't going entirely smoothly and both garages were a frantic flurry of activity. The first race of any season was always going to reveal a few teething problems, but after J's car had  expired on only his second practice lap he had been confined to the pits and remained there until the end of the session.  Daniel, perma-smiling, experienced, and back on home turf had so far managed to take it all in his stride, for us Poms however this was a whole new experience. Brought up on the circuits of Europe we'd never even been to Australia, let alone raced on the temporary Albert Park circuit. 

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