While putting to bed the April issue of Classic & Sports Car, it dawned on me that I have been the magazine's art editor for a whole decade. Of course, there are those that have been here a lot longer than me (most in fact), but when I finally succeeded in persuading Haymarket’s art director to give me my dream role, I didn’t imagine that I would still be here 10 years on.
In that time there have obviously been highs and lows, although I am being perfectly honest when I say that I am struggling to recall too many lows!
Highs are plentiful, though: getting to drive one of my all-time favourite cars, the Ford GT40, at speed on an empty airfield is right up at the top, but just the other week I did something which was right up there with the GT40, albeit at the other end of the speed spectrum.
With only a couple of hours’ notice on a miserable Friday afternoon, I found myself in suburban London, in the snow, fulfilling a long-held ambition and finally behind the wheel of not one, but two classic tractors.
You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy, apparently, so when I was handed the keys to a Porsche Junior and a Master tractor, I was like a pig in… well, you know the rest.
My grandad was a farmer all his working life and much of our time as kids was spent with farming as a backdrop. The occasions on which he would bring ‘his’ tractor home for lunch were what galvanized my love for these huge machines and, although the gleaming red Porsche would have looked slightly out of place in the Hampshire fields that he ploughed, I couldn’t wait to tell him that I had finally got myself behind the wheel of a ‘proper’ vehicle.
It says a lot (probably too much) about me that I came away claiming that it was “literally the BEST thing I have EVER done!” – particularly considering that we had been shooting a Lamborghini just days before.
The only way it could have been better of course was if the rolling countryside fell before me instead of the A316 into central London.
So once again, Classic & Sports Car has provided me with another opportunity and another lasting memory for which I’m very grateful. I’m not sure that 10 years ago I would ever have imagined that a diesel tractor would be challenging a GT40 for top spot in my best moments so far.
So what will the next decade bring?
Well, Mrs P has readily agreed that I can one day buy a tractor providing we have a smallholding to put it on. Of course, I also have a bit of a thing about combine harvesters. Found a lovely old Massey Ferguson 500 on eBay and it’s only £700! Will that fit on a smallholding, too?