Ben Collings, a driver with whom regular Goodwood visitors will be familiar, has kindly lent my son, Josh, “Rusty”, his Austin J40 pedal car, for this year’s Settrington Cup at the Revival Meeting in September.
Ben’s own kids are all too old to race it, but he kindly sent me a photo of the car… with both his son and his daughter standing it by it, clutching the spoils of victory. The bloody thing is doused in wreaths, the children bearing cups. No pressure, then.
I’ve had to set the scene for Ben already: my seven-year-old has inherited his mother’s keen sense of competition, i.e. none at all. In football, Josh will hound the ball like a maniac then politely step back to let someone else actually make contact with it. In a race against his step-brothers, both of whom are phenomenally competitive, he’ll just collapse on the grass giggling. It’s not that he’s lazy: he loves climbing, horse-riding... anything solo. But put him up against a peer, and he doesn’t like to offend by appearing to get ahead or trying to deny someone else the victory. He is, perhaps, quintessentially British.
There is, then, little point in vigorous training, I fear. But I’m keen to at least to put in the effort, if only so that Ben Collings doesn’t feel his car is going to waste this year. Josh will enjoy it tremendously, don’t get me wrong, as will I from the sidelines, but neither of us wants to appear, well, pushy. I just want him not to cry.