Friday, 25 January 2008

Books Lately - On the Edge: My Story, by Richard Hammond

There can’t be many people in Britain who don’t know who Richard Hammond is. Given the worldwide popularity of the BBC show Top Gear, which Richard co-presents with Jeremy Clarkson and James May, there must be plenty of people around the world who know his name. Back in September 2006 Richard suffered a near fatal crash whilst driving a jet-powered dragster for Top Gear.

On the Edge opens with Richard, post accident and pretty much fully recovered, learning cross-country skiing for Top Gear’s race to the North Pole. From there we learn of young Richard’s daredevil antics and his love of machines, particularly the bicycles he loved riding and repairing. From there the story moves quickly through Richard’s career in local radio to where he joined Top Gear. You get an idea of the creative process behind some of the Top Gear stunts.

The events leading up to the accident and the crash itself are described in great detail. The long and traumatic story of the days and weeks of recovery is told by Richard’s wife, Mindy. Even though you know Richard pulls through you can sense, just a little, the tension, the fear and the suffering felt by Mindy and all Richard’s friends and family.

It is a moving story, occasionally funny but always tempered by a sense of just how serious Richard’s situation was. At the end of the book you feel so happy that Richard has recovered. But not, I suspect, as happy as Richard and Mindy are.

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