Another good read from a very engaging and essentially very serious personality. Richard writes an engaging story of what it is like to be a celebrity who is admired by boisterous petrolheads but is essentially a sensitive artistic character. He is an skilled writer of comedy (he has always been a fan of the great PG Wodehouse) whose descriptions of the horrendous pain of having treatment for kidney stones manage to pull off the rare trick of making the reader laugh and wince simultaneously. As another reviewer has said there is a serious subtext here about bullying and social exclusion. Richard is a fair-minded character and is clearly embarassed about a frankly bizarre act of teasing that he took part in when 13. I was in the next dormitory to that imaginative but rather tasteless act of bullying and heard about it over breakfast the next day. It certainly put me off breakfast! Richard clearly wants to get some guilt off his chest and writing about it must feel as cathartic as losing that kidney stone. In fact bullying of much worse kinds was rife at the Solihull School at that time and Richard showed his character by taking a stand against it. It has not made him popular with many of the perpetrators. This book is both his way of dealing with ageing (although he still retains the good looks that make him popular with females) and his way of distancing himself from the aspects of the past that he despised. "Or Is That Just Me" is not just a jokey title but a hint that Richard often feels doubts and uncertainties about his fame and how he is perceived.
As this is a review on the audio book I will focus more on that aspect. I originally bought another book by Richard Hammond and was not expecting much in the way of entertainment but admit I was pleasantly surprised.
So surprised that I obtained two further audio books by Hammond.
This like the others is rather good I am glad to say. It certainly brightened up several car journeys as I listened to Richard narrating his book.
Now that Top Gear has been torpedoed by the BBC this will be one way to get out Top Gear Fix- well that and 'Dave'.
Richard Hammond is just himself in the book and the narration which is really refreshing. His background was in radio and he has a really good voice.
He is not a big head and I get the impression he realises his talents are slim but knows he is so fortunate to have got to where he has he is what he is a likeable bloke.
I wouldn't want to cross him though- the book does get this across when you read between the lines. I should state that I don't imagine I would agree with everything he says and believes but I think it would ge good to argue the point out with him.
He is comfortable in his persona that is portrayed to the public and it is obvious that he doesn't act up he is himself and he is all the more likeable for that. The book goes along at a fair pace and Hammond's reminiscences are really refreshing and new. Now that may seem strange because the major focus of the book are his adventures on Top Gear which, thanks to the TV channel 'Dave' have been repeated many times. So the audience is familiar with the story as in the example of the testing of an off roader as a fox hunt with, Hammond, the only one of the 3 with a modicum of horse sense- literally being the one chosen to ride with the hunt. But there you would be wrong. Richard tells us the stories behind the events and that is key to the sucees and entertainment value of this book on CD. If you are a fan of Top Gear then this look behind the scenes will be really good entertainment.
That is the key to Hammond he is presenter and entertainer and in this audio he doe just that.
His stories of how he got there on various To Gear Specials and all the things that happened really make the book an attractive and entertaining listen and if you read the book- read.
The book simply adds a new edge and dimension to a well watched show and really enhances both. I can watch the episodes again, still enjoy them but the book has given me a new understanding.
This audio book certainly brighten a few car journeys. Wonderful.
All are marvellous entertainment and I an so surprised that Richard's books are so good.
If you like Richard Hammond at all then this is the audio book to get.
I really will be seeking out others that he has narrated.
Mostly very, very funny with some fascinating behind the scenes descriptions of filming Engineering Connections, a doomed BBC pilot and Top Gear including the live stage version. Hammond writes fluently revealing a surprising emotional sensitivity perhaps heightened since his accident. However, he also has a tedious obsession with becoming 40 and with his clothes and appearance. The chapter 'Falling Apart' is hilarious and should be appreciated by anyone who has ever suffered intimate and humiliating procedures in hospital. With one or two hints that Hammond is far from recovered, there is an interesting sub-text on bullying and social exclusion. Hammond describes a school trip in which he took part in a bullying incident and claims he has never taken part in any bullying since. He also reveals his own dislike of some of the comments shouted out at him by members of the public. He seems happy enough to let his mates on Top Gear Live tease him when they discover he cannot remember the previous year's visit to South Africa but much less happy when strangers question his physical abilities and whether he actually did win the race on his bike across London. With stickers on the front to 'poke fun at the short bloke off Top Gear' you wonder if perhaps being on TV can sometimes feel like being in the stocks. But Hammond is very far from being a victim and shows an amazing ability to bounce back from adversity. He is one plucky Brit who will never finish last.
Don't waste your time reading what essentially reads like a 12 years olds diary. It reads like he is stood in a pub with you, telling not very entertaining stories - at least down the pub you have a drink to numb the pain.
Richard Hammond confronts his scariest challenge, yet - his fortieth birthday! - and a mid-life crisis of apocalyptic proportions is the unavoidable theme in this highly entertaining book. Hammond's minutely observed, and occasionally melancholic style may surprise those accustomed to the chirpy chappie on TV -a character he himself seems to regard with wry detachment- but it makes him far and away the most unexpected writer of the "Top Gear" triumvirate.
Not that this book isn't funny - His horse riding adventures are genuinely hilarious, as is a disastrous drinking session on board HMS Illustrious. Even a harrowing succession of encounters with the medical profession is recounted with the gleeful relish of a man who regrets having no decent scars to show off in the pub. It is, however counterbalanced with darker moments - sombre reflections on childhood and adult bullying, and succinct, throwaway sentences that remind us that, for all his determination to live his surreally colourful life to the fullest, he continues to live with the lingering aftershock of brain injury.
We are invited, with a rather lovely set of stickers, to `Poke fun at the short bloke off "Top Gear"', but he lands constant pre-emptive strikes on himself, deflating his own impatience, paranoia and vanity at every twist and turn. Whilst a certain self-defensiveness is clearly at work, the result is delightfully self-knowing, revealing a flawed but genuinely likeable human being beneath the hyperactive TV persona.
The book has its faults. Some chapters end abruptly, without proper resolution, or explanation. There are also weird inconsistencies in the text. On page 71, for example, he describes wandering across a landing in pyjamas that, on page 57, we are clearly informed that he doesn't possess. Now whilst the fact that the Hamster may or may not own a pair of jammies is not a matter of overriding magnitude in the grand scheme of things, it does cast some doubt on the innate veracity of what we are reading.
In the final analysis, since he cheerfully confesses to sometimes not letting the truth get in the way of a good story, maybe we should simply accept it at that. These are good stories, and we can only hope that Richard Hammond ploughs manfully on through his terrifying middle years to deliver plenty more of them. With no obvious sign of a follow-up on the horizon, however, we may be in for a wait.
I have read the lads from Top Gear's books this holiday and I found Hamsters the most disappointing. He is obviously preoccupied by his up coming milestone birthday and never misses an opportunity to remind the reader of it. I would have expected more from him but sorry its Clarkson for me every time!