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Book Review: Top Gear – How To Parachute Into A Moving Car

Title: Top Gear – How To Parachute Into A Moving Car

Author: Richard Porter

Publisher: BBC Books, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-849-90635-7

Very few of us are likely to get a bright shiny new car this Christmas.  Although some of us might be living in hope… However, in the more realistic gift department, a car-related book might be in order.  Possibly this offering from the Top Gear franchise might fit the bill either for you or for someone else you know who’s into motors (if it’s a present for you, tactfully leaving this page open when your nearest and dearest are about to go online might be good for dropping a hint).

The subtitle of Top Gear’s “How To Parachute Into A Moving Car” is “Vital survival tips for the modern man.” In spite of this subtitle, the book should give most recipients a chuckle, male or female.  And you will get a chuckle.  Although there are some bits of good motoring advice sprinkled throughout the text (e.g. how to do a handbrake turn) and some thought-provoking pieces (how to make a car for old people), the majority is a light hearted and slightly cynical look at driving today, especially driving in Britain.  If you are (1) after a serious automotive book or (2) easily offended and drive an Audi, then you might want to browse another section of the shelves at your local bookshop.  The “how hard can it be?” rating given to each entry provides good material for discussions, and the “how to find your petrol station stance” entry could easily be turned into a sort of game of bingo to keep the kids in the back seat amused when you’re taking a long time at the petrol station refuelling, checking the air pressure in the tyres, etc.

Understandably, the book contains numerous references to the TV show itself (well, what do you expect from something published by BBC Books?).  If you have seen the episode in question, the commentary will bring back amusing memories.  If you haven’t, it will pique your curiosity and make you want to see it (in my case, this was the one about playing rugby with cars).  Sometimes, if you haven’t seen the show, the references are a little puzzling and tedious, but on the whole, the book is enjoyable all the same.

The tips and “advice” given don’t just confine themselves to car-related topics and wry comments about the three presenters (e.g. “How to dress like James May: Find a charity shop that hasn’t had any new donations since 1976.  Buy all their clothes off them.”).  You will find other topics related to life in general sprinkled in there, such as “how to feel like a hero when using the microwave oven” and “how to buy trousers”.

And as for the advice about parachuting into a moving car?  First of all, watch this clip of the actual episode:

For the next part of the instructions, you’ll have to read the book yourself.

Happy driving,