This book has convinced me that not only should you never meet you heros, but you shouldn't read their autobiographies either. If you like Guy Martin and want to carry on liking him, look away now.
I'm not a fan of motorsports so I first found Guy on television. "Come and watch this," I said to my husband, "It's like Wolverine was a Northerner building a boat.". We marvelled at his sideburns, and occasionally at his engineering and once at nearly all of him when a steam-powered shower turned evil and he had to jump out of it in a hurry. Since then I've enjoyed How Britain Worked (a wonderfully comforting programme as every episode was the same; Guy would join some bunch of brown-coated old boys as they restored old bits of stuff and win them over with his no-nonsense northern tea drinking and ability to "Shave a couple of thou off that, lad". The best bit would always be Guy turning to camera demonstrating a nice interference fit and saying, "Look at that, eh? Trick as.", or some weeks, "It were proper graft though, in them days, weren't it?") and two series of Speed (a much less cosy programmme which frequently gave the impression that it might end with the words, "This programme is dedicated to the late Guy Martin").
I guess what I was expecting from this book was some exciting bits about high-speed crashes and also the inevitable dull bits about boring out cylinders and valve timing for the hardcore. In fact the book delivers both those things, but it also shows Guy in a much less lovable light than I was expecting. By the end I felt I was looking at a man who had just done whatever he felt like at every turn and was then left wondering why everyone was so pissed off at him.
And there are the various daft things he does which just you leave you shouting at him. Like the way that the man who is happy to try to drive round the Isle of Man at over 200 mph seems to end up cheating on his girlfriend cos he can't quite get together the guts to break up with her first. Or the way that when his Dad (who is every bit as uncommunicative as Guy himself) confiscates the works van after a series of driving offenses, Guy says something along the lines of, "I figured it was his way of telling me I was sacked from the family business," and I think, "Why didn't you just ring him up and ask him, you big eejit?". And then there was the incident where Guy bypassed the TT podium and went to the tea van instead, which I had wrongly attributed to his being an unassuming lad who liked his tea. Turns out he was having a big prima donna strop.
Despite all this, I still admire Guy (well, can I ride a motorbike at 200mph? Can I bugger. I'm on the breaks of my pushbike just going down the hill from my house to the main road) but I've stopped slightly fancying him.
Here's hoping he finally gets that TT win...
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