And that reminds me...

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Of the day when Stirling Moss came to the rescue after my toddler landed herself in dried fruit hell

As you will know, this year’s Silverstone Classic saw the racing return of Sir Stirling Moss (and Willie Green). But I first got to know him driving road cars. Years ago Stirling had a column in a ‘lifestyle’ magazine which was ghosted by me. The deal was that once a quarter I’d bowl up to Shepherd Street in something interesting, we’d go for a drive (often to the Brent Cross Ikea where I’d witness shopping with Stirling, an event worthy of a story in its own right), he’d tell me what he thought of the car, I’d put those thoughts on paper and we’d split the fee.

On one occasion, when I still couldn’t quite believe who I was sitting next to, my telephone rang as Stirling was flinging an Aston Martin westbound out of London along the A40. It was my children’s nursery. My three-year-old had managed to ram a raisin up her left nostril, to the point where it was irretrievable and she was inconsolable. Shamefully I knew not what to say. I couldn’t ask our greatest living racing driver to help me rescue my toddler from her self-imposed dried fruit hell, but the message at the other end was clear: this situation fell far outside the job description and, wife being unavailable, her only prospect of rescue lay with me.

Sweating more than a little I tried to think of some excuse to force the 1955 Mille Miglia winner to drive me to a nursery in west London. But as I looked up, I saw we were no longer on the A40, but circumnavigating a roundabout above it. Stirling had heard every word and was already heading back into town. ‘Where are we going, boy?’ he said.

In the event, the phone rang again to say an intrepid member of staff armed with a pair of tweezers had removed the raisin. But I never forgot the incident. In one chance moment like that you gain a better insight into a person’s true character than in 10 hours of formal interviews.

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