'I Just Made the Tea' charts the three decades Di Spires and her husband, Stuart, have spent providing catering and hospitality within the hustle-bustle of top flight motor sport and spans the period from when hospitality was in its infancy and fairly rudimentary to the slick corporate industry it has become today. This in itself would be a fascinating insight into an area of the sport that is rarely discussed, but Di and co-writer, Bernard Ferguson, have done so in a highly entertaining, informal and affectionate manner.
The book follows a broadly chronological framework with occasional chapters devoted to a particular theme, for example, some of the racetracks Di and Stuart visited, or particularly important individuals who have touched their lives as and when they enter the story, such as Elio de Angelis, Flavio Briatore and Micheal Schumacher. Di and Stuart spent several years with Benetton, including the period during which Schumacher won his two World Championships for the team, and, in this context, 'I Just Made the Tea' provides an interesting counterpoint and companion piece to the books by Steve Matchett ('Life in the Fast Lane' and 'The Mechanic's Tale'), who was a race mechanic for Benetton during the same period.
Aside from conveying the genuine respect and affection the motor sport fraternity clearly has for Di and Stuart, or 'Mum and Dad', as they are called by everybody, the joy of this book is the number of anecdotes and character studies - made possible due to the informality of many contexts. The stories cover a range of emotions, from delight (such as when discussing Nelson Piquet, with whom Di and Stuart forged a particularly strong bond), to frustration over logistical headaches and the depths of despair whenever tragedy arose.
The text is accompanied by several wonderfully candid photographs - the 'holiday snapshot' quality of some of the images lends to the air of informality and is perfectly suited to the subject matter. There is a particularly poignant photo of Elio de Angelis, taken just before his fatal accident.
Di Spires and Bernard Ferguson have written a truly wonderful and highly entertaining book, and have clearly revelled in reminiscing over a lifetime in motor sport and a bygone age. One is left thinking that there is surely enough subject matter for a sequel if the authors feel so inclined. Di Spires did much more than make the tea as she and her husband were at the heart of several top teams and earned the respect and admiration of everybody in the pit lane. This book is a treasure.