With the F1 circus still becoming accustomed to the life-threatening coma of Michael Schumacher and the imprisonment of Eddie Irvine, it seems unusual that the most telling of news items concerning the sport this winter is the sad passing away yesterday of John Button.
International news, trending hashtag, dedicated pages. The father of the 2009 champion and McLaren No.1 Jenson Button has, in passing, brought to light an aspect of public life rarely discussed.
There’s an old Newsround video featuring a young Jenson karting. His father John, encouraging from the sidelines, was neither arrogant nor overly ambitious when interviewed – “They all say they want to go to Formula One, but…as long as he’s enjoying himself, that’s the main thing”.
Throughout Jenson’s career, John has been instrumental. It was John we have to thank for Jenson’s proficiency in changing conditions, having restricted his son’s tyre usage as typical British weather prevailed over the karting circuit. From his first win at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix for Honda to his 2009 world championship to Brawn to his glorious 2011 masterpiece at the Canadian Grand Prix, Jenson has had his father spurring him on, manifesting his delight.
Denis Thatcher was an equally crucial influence upon his wife. Since inciting her to indulge her political ambitions, he never floundered in his unwavering public support for his wife, being an incalculably dependable rock for Margaret during times of strife. “All I could produce, small as it may be, was love and loyalty”, insisted Denis, when interviewed about his role.
Martin Luther King, too, was moulded by his father’s personality. Taking his fear of God, courage, defiance, belief in equality and embryonic societal awareness from his pater, King coupled this key childhood shaping with university experiences to forge the most memorable US social leader of all time. Anthony Hamilton was his son Lewis’ long-term coach and familial engine for ambition. William III valued the mutual support and respect of his wife and co-sovereign Mary II so greatly that her untimely 1694 death broke him and inflicted chronic wounds on his viability as a strong and popularly visible monarch. And from primary school, from the one area of the curriculum not so easily indoctrinated by the left-wing, we all know the meaning of Albert’s constant consortship to Victoria.
People are not sole moulds. Circumstances leave lasting impressions on us all. My late grandfather’s diligency, benevolence, sincerity and logic will never ever leave my consciousness. We all have major human influences on our lives, and they, together with major events, make us who we are. And for those ‘im Brennpunkt’, as the Germans say, these people are even more important yet oft’ neglected.
Rest in peace, John Button.