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Murray Walker: Unless I'm Very Much Mistaken [Paperback]

Murray Walker
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Amazon Review

The drivers and teams changed, but for as long as most people can remember, Murray Walker--fast, furious and very flappable--was the voice of Formula One. In Unless I'm Very Much Mistaken, the much-loved commentator reflects on a unique career with all the style and enthusiasm that he brought to his broadcasts

Whether he's talking about his first experiences of motor sport as a competitor, his time in the army, his career in advertising, his transition from media part-timer to media legend or his retirement from frontline F1 broadcasts at the end of the 2001 season, Walker has a fascinating story to tell--and he retains his journalist's sense of what the people really want to know. He shares his face-to-face knowledge of motor sport gods like Fangio and Enzo Ferrari and recalls his less daunting encounters with British luminaries such as Nigel Mansell, the Hills, Jackie Stewart and James Hunt, including the occasion when the latter pair sniped at each other in a memorable commentary box match-up. There's also a good selection of the best Murrayisms, such as "And the battle is well and truly on if it wasn't before, and it certainly was!", "There's nothing wrong with the car except it's on fire!" and "I just stopped my startwatch".

Tremendous admiration for the skills and courage of the stars of his sport epitomises the Walker approach. This is no doubt fuelled by his own slightly fraught attempt at piloting a Formula One car in 1983 and by his experience at less pedestrian speed 15 years later when he was strapped into a two-seater McLaren behind co-commentator Martin Brundle. But he also gently settles one or two scores along the way. Elsewhere he reflects on the itinerary of affection so peculiar to the life of a British celebrity--This Is Your Life, Desert Island Discs and an OBE--and on his private life, his hugely influential parents, his late and happy marriage and what he hopes retirement will bring. It's a tribute to the man's singular voice that so much of the tone of this book is unmistakably Murray. It's not high-octane blunder-speckled race vintage, but the scripted television style he has made his own, a more measured bombast that makes this generously illustrated tome very easy to like. --Alex Hankin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


‘The sheer force and sincerity of his enthusiasm has long made him the most imitated as well as the most loved broadcaster in British life’ Daily Telegraph

‘Well written…a real page-turner’ Classic Bikes

‘An entertaining read’ The Sunday Times

From the Publisher

The voice of motor racing – and the man responsible for introducing millions of viewers to the previously inaccessible world of Formula 1 – tells the story of his incident-packed life.

Murray Walker is an institution.

From the Author

Memorable Murrayisms

The lead car is absolutely unique except for the one behind which is identical

And now the boot is on the other Schumacher

Alain Prost is in a commanding second place

The atmosphere is so tense you could cut it with a cricket stump

There's nothing wrong with the car except it's on fire --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

'The voice of motor-racing – and the man responsible for introducing millions of viewers to the previously inaccessible world of Formula 1 – tells the story of his incident-packed life.'

Murray Walker is an institution. When he announced his retirement as ITV's Grand Prix commentator at the end of the 2001 season, the media reacted as if the sport itself was losing one of its biggest stars.

He was the fan who happened to be given the keys to the commentary box – and never wanted to give them back. His high-octane delivery kept viewers on the edge of their seats, while his passion for talking about the sport he loved was matched by an all-encompassing knowledge gained through hours of painstaking research before every race.

He tells of his childhood and the influence that his father, British motorcycle champion Graham Walker, had on his career. Failing to match his father's achievements on the track, he made a successful career for himself in advertising which catapulted him to the top of his profession.

An offer from the BBC to take over the commentary seat for their F1 broadcasts was manna from heaven for Walker, and it wasn't long before the infamous 'Murrayisms' enlivened a sport which until then had been shrouded in a cloak of unfathomable technical jargon and mind-numbing statistics.

He also talks about the biggest changes in the sport over the last 50 years, in particular the safety issues which came to the fore after the tragic death of Ayrton Senna. His partnership with James Hunt behind the microphone is the subject of some hilarious anecdotes, while his views on drivers such as Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Eddie Irvine and David Coulthard are fascinating.

"The sheer force and sincerity of his enthusiasm has long made him the most imitated as well as the most loved broadcaster in British life"
'Daily Telegraph'

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Murray Walker was born in Birmingham in 1923. His father, Graham was a motorcycle TT champion and Walker jnr saw his first race when he was two. After active service in World War II, he forged a succeesful career as an advertising executive, handling the accounts of blue-chip firms such as Mars, Esso and the Co-op. His debut as a sports commentator came in 1949, when he covered the British GP at Silverstone for BBC Radio. He has since spent more than 50 years commentating on motor racing and in particular F1, initially for the BBC before switching to ITV in 1997. He is the author of 14 books on motor racing.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

I really enjoyed school. I was no great scholar, but a steady
grafter; I got School Certificate with Credits (the equivalent
of A-levels today) including, believe it or not, a Distinction in
Divinity. I needed an extra subject to compensate for my
incompetence at Maths and taught myself by learning almost
by heart the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel according to
St Matthew.

Within two years of my arrival at Highgate I’d learnt to play
the bugle in the School Corps, become a Prefect, mastered the
intricacies of the intriguing wall game Fives, proudly won my
First Class shot (0.303 Short Model Lee-Enfield World War
One rifles with a kick like a mule) and demonstrated a stagger-ing
lack of ability at soccer and cricket due to an abysmal lack
of hand and eye co-ordination. Then came the ‘Phoney War’
and with it evacuation to Westward Ho! in glorious North
Devon, as the School’s governors were convinced that there
was going to be a war and that London would be heavily
bombed. They were right on both counts but a year early, so
we soon returned. In 1939 we were back in Devon again, this
time for the duration, and I was there until 1941.

What a life it was! My school house was at the end of a
superb beach with the Atlantic breakers crashing ashore just
beneath my dormitory window. Hardly affected by the
rationing to which the rest of Britain was subjected, it was
shorts and shirts the whole year round, weekend cycle rides
to Clovelly and Appledore, excitedly staring up at the Avro
Ansons of Coastal Command as they lumbered across the blue
skies in search of U-boats, swimming in the sea, sunbathing
on the Pebble Ridge and the joy of achieving things that
mattered to me as I developed. I rose to the giddy height of
Company Sergeant Major of the School Corps, pompously
marching about shouting commands in my World War One
khaki uniform, complete with knee-length breeches, puttees,
peak cap, scarlet sash and a giant banana-yellow drill stick
with a silver knob on the top. I became Captain of Shoot-ing
with the honour of an annual competition at Bisley and
even, arrogance of arrogance, an instructor to members of
the LDV (Local Defence Volunteers: the predecessor of the
Home Guard, or ‘Dad’s Army’), many of whom had fought in
World War One, teaching them how to use a Lewis machine
gun. And I loved it.

But then, at 18, and with school behind me, it was time
to go to war myself. As Britain unflinchingly suffered the
devastating ravages of Hitler’s Messerschmitt, Dornier and
Junkers bombers, while his seemingly invincible armies raced
across Russia, it was also slowly starting to ready itself for the
invasion of Europe. My country needed me. Youth does not
heed the horrors of war and I was eager to go – but in one
particular direction. Conscription was very much in force and
if you waited to be called you went where they sent you.
However, if you volunteered and were accepted you went
where you wanted to. I had stars in my eyes and knowing that
inadequate eyesight prevented me from going for every
schoolboy’s dream – fighter pilot – I volunteered for tanks. I
was accepted all right but, believe it or not, they said, ‘Sorry
Murray, you’ve got to wait. Not enough of the right sort of
kit for you to train on. So off you go. Fill in the time and we’ll
let you know when we’re ready.’

What a frustrating setback. It is difficult to convey to
today’s generation, who are lucky not to have experienced
it, how totally involved, intense and patriotically passionate
everyone in Britain was about the war. Germany, and every-thing
to do with it, was then regarded as the personification of
evil. It is easy now, divorced from the bitter loathing and
hatred that war inevitably generates, to accept that the vast
majority of its people were (and are) the same as us but there
was naturally little appreciation and no tolerance then of the
fact that the ordinary Germans had been taken over by an
obsessive megalomaniac and the fanatical political machine he
had created. Hitler and his minions were doing unspeakably
terrible things in the name of the Third Reich and were
aiming for world domination. With the enemy literally at the
door, Britain had its back to the wall and was fighting for its
very survival. There was a gigantic amount to be done and I
desperately wanted to be a part of it. I still had a bit of a wait
ahead of me though.

‘Fill in the time,’ they had said. But how? It clearly wasn’t
going to be long before I was in battledress but, as I have so
often been, I was lucky.

At that time the Dunlop Rubber Company, then one of
Britain’s greatest companies, awarded 12 scholarships a year
to what they regarded as worthy recipients and I was fortunate
to win one of them. Sadly, Dunlop now exists only as a brand
name, having been fragmented and taken over by other com-panies
including the Japanese Sumitomo organization whose
country it did so much to defeat in the war. But back then

.Dunlop, with its proud boast ‘As British as the Flag’, was a
force in the world of industry with many thousands of em-ployees
all over the world. It owned vast rubber plantations
and produced, distributed and sold tyres, footwear, clothing,
sports goods, cotton and industrial products and Dunlopillo
latex foam cushioning.

Its scholarship students were based at its famous Fort
Dunlop headquarters (part of which still exists beside the M6
in Birmingham) and had tuition and fieldwork on all of its
activities as well as instruction from top people on every
aspect of what makes a business tick, from production and
distribution to marketing, law and accountancy. It was an
invaluable grounding. I had a whale of a time, living in digs at
58 Holly Lane, Erdington with the Bellamy family, spreading
my wings and discovering, amongst other things and to my
surprise and delight, that girls had all sorts of charms I hadn’t
experienced at Highgate.

But then came the call via a telegram. ‘We’re ready for you
now, Murray. Report to the 30th Primary Training Wing at
Bovington, Dorset on 1 October 1942’. I went there as a boy
and rather more than four years later was demobbed at Hull as
a man. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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