Falling short despite early petrolhead promise... | Jack Marshall's column
It’s a great source of pride for my petrolhead father that my first word - if we’re going to be somewhat liberal with the term - was ‘V8’.
At an age when my primary occupation was picking off unsuspecting targets with strafes of alphabetti spaghetti from my sniper’s nest of a high-chair, he would perch me in the garage as he fettled and fiddled away under the bonnet of whatever he’d bought during the latest burst of excitement for all things mechanical and loud.
This suited all parties. Young me got some fresh air and a helpful acoustic environment in which to perfect my squawks, my dad could indulge a hobby, and - save for the time when he forgot I was there and closed the garage door onto my head (no, he didn’t tell my mother; yes, the scar is still there) - it was good, clean fun.
From early, it was decreed that cars were to be my hobby, too.
I had more Hot Wheels than I could shake a spanner at and - given that pictures of my dad before I arrived were themed exclusively around cars, fishing, and perms - if there is a picture of me and my father before 2000 in which we are not near, in, or even on a car and in which he is not rocking the curls, I have yet to see it.
As for fishing, I can only suspect that, even as a toddler, I wisely decided such a pursuit was far too dull to constitute an activity which we could realistically enjoy together, a precedent which still stands to this day.
And now to burst the bubble: grown-up me has no interest in cars.
Sure, I can appreciate why a Ferrari is better than a Ford (it’s red and it’s faster, duh) but, beyond that, I struggle to muster enthusiasm for an interest my dad spent so long sowing the seeds for, hoping they’d bloom into a passion over which we could bond for decades.
In fact, it’s highly likely that any car-based conversation we had when I was still in nappies involved a similar - if not superior - level of comprehension on my part as it does now that I’m a semi-functioning 27-year-old adult with a driving license.
Luckily, he also has four other children.
My sisters share my locomotive apathy, but my two brothers show more promise. One loves the mechanical side of cars, the nerdy nuts and bolts, the fettling and the fiddling world of engines. The other loves the vibe of cars, the classic models, and the art of motoring. Together, they just about slake my dad’s man-mind thirst for all things cars.
But, at the end of the day, my first word was ‘V8’, and nothing either of my brothers do will ever be as cool as that.