the Benetton and me.

Aye, it’s my first ever #storytimeSundays post, and I wanted to post this a long time ago, but saved it for today – which I am excited to share. Context: I was about 4 years old when this happened, and this is one of my earliest memories. It is also the age where I learnt that I could use benches/chairs as my “ladders” to get things from the top shelves, which had things there that was kept there for a very good reason. So yes… one fine Monday morning.

I remember it’s the day after a race somewhere, I don’t remember the date, or rather I had no concept of time of day and everyday simple was play for me so I wouldn’t know, either. My dad used to have a cabinet of goodies, ie his cabinet of various collections – you would find things like his diecast collection, a bunch of limited edition cars that he collected over time, his collection of poker cards, etc. Of course, his diecast cars was what attracted my eye. However, this one car caught my eye. It had too many colours on it – blue, green, a little bit of yellow, some red streaks and words I didn’t recognise from my English class.

With the curiosity that filled my head and my new skill of finding a chair for me to climb on to reach the top shelf, I prodded to the chairs kept at the back of the house, escaped the watchful eyes of the housekeeper, tiptoed across my parents’ room and softly placed my chair down and climbed up the chair. With my balance sorted, I opened the cabinet door and reached for that colourful car that caught my eye. Slowly, I climbed down from the chair and ran to my room. I hid the car beside my pillow against the wall, and propped my bolster on top. I walked back outside to the housekeeper asking me what I was doing with the chair, I dismissively told her I wanted to look at my dad’s BP trucks and she told me not to go near it, for my dad didn’t like his collection being meddled with, and she took the chair away, not noticing the secret crime I committed. 

So anyway, I went back to my room and oogled at the car in my hands. I couldn’t read the words/logos on the car, but it was (at that point) the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Not even the current Ferrari cars matched up to this classic beauty. I had just learnt to write my letters, so I grabbed one of those empty notebooks given to me and wrote down the letters so that I could ask my dad when he came home from work what it read. I did recognised that 7 was spelt SEVEN but had no clue how to read “Goodyear” or “Ford”. So, I wrote it all down and kept the car away.

So when my dad came home, after dinner when he was settled in to his home clothes and became less grumpy (food does marvellous things to moods), I pulled out the notebook I had and asked him to read the words to me. He did, and naturally he did ask me where did I come across these words. So I told him, from the races of course but I didn’t ask him earlier because McLaren didn’t do well that day. He brushed it off as childhood innocence and told me the story of Benetton, and how he came across the car.

The few facts I can remember, it was one of the earlier cars he actually admired, because it was a champion car. Nelson Piquet (Sr.) drove it, though never won in the car. He actually bought it at a sale, and got this car alongside the mini Minardi he got as well. I did tell him I wanted to have my own collection as well, which he asked what car would I like, which I told him I wanted a Ferrari. Anyway, I digress – I will save this for another storytime sunday. But for now, let’s go back to the Benetton car.

So did anyone ever discover that the car was missing? Not immediately. A few weeks later, we went on a swimming trip to a friend’s condo. I brought the car with me and spend time at the shallow pool with it. It took my dad awhile to realise that what I was playing with wasn’t my googles, or the other water toys that you would bring to a swimming pool. It was his dear Benetton car, which I stole from him. He didn’t seem to mind me keeping it, and told me to keep it safe and well, preferably dry. Ah, he laughed a little when he said that, preferably dry. Yes, I did keep a safe, until my little brother came, and his mother thought it would be a brilliant idea to take all the cars from that cabinet and gave it to him to play – which included the Benetton.

I came home, to find the tyres gone off, the steering wheel from the cockpit broken off, and my father’s other cars destroyed. Heartbroken as I was, I remember trying to salvage what remained of the Benetton, explaining the sentiment that was behind it to his mother, which she brushed off and gave in to that brat because “(he) wanted it”. My poor father, came home and shook his head at the carnage caused. I remember the quiet sadness he had on his face, as he tried to fix his BP trucks back. He too, told his mother (who laughed at us and made snarked comments at him) that he didn’t allow me or anyone to touch his collection, and it was his prized pieces. I remember feeling a whole rage of fury, wanted to kick both of them up the arse and never see them again. All I did was leave the room and quietly (try) fight back the tears that I had. I went back in the room, and took the Benetton, while my brother threw his tantrum and sucked up to both parents to get back “his” car.

I don’t know where, or what else happened to that Benetton. I know it’s bad to grow attached to things that are temporary, just like the shoes we wear. I don’t know if my father remembers this, or his version of events might differ from me, but whatever it is – I would do anything to get that Benetton back. Maybe there’s something deep down that I miss and it’s not the actual Benettton car I miss, but I would like to have it in my hands, to be able to feel it. Ah well, enough soppy, emotion-filled stories, I must now sleep, it’s currently 05 02 and the US grand prix is now over (yawn). I will see you again, on Wednesday. Goodnight, from me to you.




(picture used belongs to car blueprints, all copyright belongs to them)


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