As one of the one million or so people in the UK with an HGV licence who isn’t driving lorries for a living, I recently received a letter from the government trying to tempt me back into the cab. It won’t work. I started off in the 1980s delivering bedroom furniture. This involved being nice to people while carrying heavy loads upstairs and trying not to rip their wallpaper or drip sweat on the carpets. It was gruelling, relentless work and some days there was barely enough time in the schedule to eat lunch. A few of the established drivers set their tachographs (the so-called spy in the cab) to ‘break’ but used the precious down time for unloading instead.
The figures are impressive. In December 2009, a poll of 217 drivers in Formula One, past and present, voted Ayrton Senna the best of all time. Three-quarters of more than 12,000 readers of Autosport agreed. Senna held records long after he was killed on the Imola circuit in 1994 and no one has yet matched his six wins at Monte Carlo, arguably the trickiest track of all. He devoted a good part of his $400 million fortune to a children’s charity in Brazil, the crowd at his funeral in São Paulo was the largest ever in the city, and on the sort of count that the medieval Church used to keep of shrines, it is said that his grave is visited by more people than those of John Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley combined. ‘Nothing,’ his headstone says, ‘can separate me from the love of God.’ And he was pretty. If ever there was a subject for film.