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My Life in Eight Journeys

On The Road: My Life in Eight Journeys is my brand new book looking back at key moments in my life told through significant journeys. Here it is in bitesize via one of those official blurb type things…

ON THE ROAD: MY LIFE IN EIGHT JOURNEYS is a new way of autobiography, in which TOP GEAR presenter Richard Hammond tells the story of his early life through a series of significant driving episodes. He’s a child in the back seat of Dad’s car on the way to the seaside in Weston-Super-Mare. He’s on his first bike, a red one, in Solihull; then on his first motorcycle, a Honda MTX50. He’s at the wheel of his first car (and in the book with his first girlfriend). He is driving a furniture delivery van as part of his first job in and around Ripon. Now he is showing off with a friend, risking everything.

ON THE ROAD is an emotional road map in which each chapter has its own registration number, and its own distinctive interior. Most importantly, each chapter sets off and arrives. ON THE ROAD surges on to its destination, reversing or moving quickly through the gears, reliving the central episodes and conflicts of Richard’s life. Every chapter is a stage in a longer journey. Although there are precious few road-rage monologues against four-wheel drivers and men in vests in white vans, Richard Hammond’s readers will quickly recognise the funny self-deprecating and balanced ease that has made him one of Britain’s best-loved writers and television presenters.

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Since I was a nipper I’ve been fascinated by mysteries of the world. Is the Loch Ness Monster real? What DID happen to the Mary Rose? Could we REALLY bump into the Abominable Snowman?

Great Mysteries of the World is a chance to explore these mysteries, from the ancient pyramids to Stonehenge to the Bermuda Triangle, all from the comfort of your armchair / sofa / hammock. Delve in, explore the evidence and decide for yourself whether the mystery could be true!

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Or is That Just Me?

“Yes, the hair is part of a midlife crisis. Yes I drive a sports car and wear clothes ten years too young for me. I’m having a mid-life crisis, ok? Nobody looks at a spotty teenager in baggy jeans and shouts, ‘look at you with your zits and jeans hanging down round your backside, you’re a teenager!’ It’s just a fact, they are teenagers and they act like them. And nobody shouts at an old man, ‘look at you with your hairy ears and your pork pie hat on the parcel shelf of your Honda. You’re old!’ So why can’t they leave us mid-life crisi-ers to it? I set out to redress the balance and explain the tricky nature of that slope down to forty for the modern man. And I did that by being searingly honest about my own experiences and feelings as I approach the landmark four-oh.”

OR IS THAT JUST ME? Richard confronts his fear of turning forty, realizing he may be rapidly hurtling towards a mid-life crisis; bravely plays the part of a fearless Mongol horseback warrior in the wild woods of Middlesex; looks forward to an exotic shoot in Hawaii only to discover it’s a ‘bit like North Wales’ only colder, bringing back uncomfortable memories of being stabbed on a school trip to Snowdonia; is rushed to hospital with appendicitis and finds out that yet more of his body parts have to be surgically removed; gets scared to death travelling at 4MPH; has his rock-star dream come true playing bass in a band with Jeremy, James and The Darkness’ lead singer Justin Hawkins; and is involved in a midair helicopter collision (with a seagull) on tour in New Zealand.
Are things starting to fall apart? Or is that just him…?

Richard’s Own Praise for Or Is That Just Me
“Scorching, searingly honest, a page-turner and a gut-wrenching insight into the inner workings of the modern man. I like the bit where he picks a fight with a Marine on the aircraft carrier and tries to get into bed with the captain. No he does, really.”

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“It sometimes seems like everyone wants to be on the telly and I felt it about time I spoke up about what it’s really like working on one of the biggest telly programmes in the world. I’ve driven across Botswana in a 1964 Opel Kadett, been chased for days across the Arctic wastes by Polar bears, crossed the channel in a pick up truck and being chased by rednecks with guns across three American States. All of these things have been on the telly, but this is the story of what is was actually like making those shows, doing those trips. I’m not saying it’s a useful guide to getting a job on TV – really, it’s not – but it’s a handy insight. And, I hope, a bit of a laugh too.”

AS YOU DO… Adventures with Evel, Oliver, and the Vice-President of Botswana chronicles Richard’s many scrapes and adventures over the past year. Moving on from the devastating crash that nearly killed him he ranges widely over his life and times: a visit to Glastonbury with James May reminds of him of his early years of playing in a band and how and why he never quite made it as a rock star; the stunts and other perils that come his way like the TopGear North Pole race (why is it Richard who is out in the howling elements in a dog sled whilst the others are in the heated cab of an all-terrain vehicle?), Africa where he falls in love with and repatriates a stray car which he names ‘Oliver’, and the US (once to be chased by Rednecks in middle America, the other in pursuit of his mad hero Evel Knievel). Converting a camper-van in an attempt to cross the Channel is a predictable disaster and he has to be rescued from the sea. A brief stop-over at home coincides with the great floods. He is forced to abandon his car seventeen miles from home and run all night to get back in time, as promised, for his daughter’s birthday party. Richard writes as well about his passion for cars, what he owns and why and, although he loves his wife, why it is a toss-up whether he says hello to the wife or the cars first. Balancing home and family with a crazy, peripatetic working life (or not, sometimes), the hamster is well and truly back on the wheel.

Richard’s Own Praise for As You Do
“Probably the definitive modern diary charting the life of today’s TV industry professional. A telling and beautifully told tale full of mystery and suffused with a haunting beauty. I really like the bit where he steals a pool ball from a bar in Evil Kneivel’s home town. And the bit where his mate throws Polar Bear poo at him”.

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"I had a bit of a crash, you might have read about it in the papers at the time. I damaged my brain, a bit, and became fascinated with the process of recovery and the memories, fears and confusions it throws up. I sat down to write this as a sort of therapy, to try and understand what had happened to me, why I had ended up in that rocket car on that day and why it affected me the way it did. And all the time, whilst writing it, Mindy and I believed that if it turned out to be useful to just one patient recovering from head injury or to their friends and family, it would be worth the effort. It has been, I think and I’m very, very pleased about that."

ON THE EDGE is Richard’s compelling account of life before and after the accident and an honest description of his year of recovery, full of drama and incident. It is also, perhaps, his explanation of why, as a married man and father of two young daughters, he was prepared to risk all by strapping himself to the front of a jet engine with the power of eleven Formula One cars.

A daredevil and a petrolhead long before his association with Top Gear, Richard tells the story of his life as an adrenalin junkie, from the small boy showing off with ridiculous stunts on his bicycle to the adolescent with a near-obsessive attraction to speed and the smell of petrol. After a series of jobs in local radio, he graduated to television and eventually to Top Gear, one of the world’s most popular shows, upgrading his car with each step up the ladder. His insights into the personalities, the camaraderie and, of course, the stunts for which Top Gear has become famous make compulsive reading.

It was whilst filming for Top Gear, driving a jet-powered dragster at speeds over 300mph, that a tyre burst and the car left the track and rolled over, burying him in the earth. He was airlifted to hospital and hovered near death for several days. His wife Mindy tells the story of the anxious hours and days of watching and waiting until he finally emerged from his coma. In an extraordinarily powerful piece of writing, she and Richard then piece together the stages of his recovery as his shattered mind slowly reformed, leaving him sometimes lucid and plausible, sometimes confused and angry, and often exhausted. The final chapter recounts his return home and his triumphant reappearance in front of the cameras.

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A Short History of
Caravans in the Uk

“There is a saying; ‘Keep your enemies close’. What better way to exorcise the demon in my world, that is the caravan, than to write an entire book about them. So I did. I befriended the caravan, got it on my side, learned about its history, made up stuff when I couldn’t find the answers and worked out new and clever ways of destroying them. Surprisingly, quite a lot of caravanners tell me they really enjoyed A Short History of Caravans in The Uk, though I fear they may just have been trying to be nice.”

A SHORT HISTORY OF CARAVANS IN THE UK is Richard’s essential guide for any owner, or prospective owner, or indeed anyone with even a passing interest in caravans, of whatever sex or age, or race, or inclination. Or even perhaps someone with apparently no interest in caravans who might have a previously latent interest aroused. Some even talk in hushed tones of a parallel universe, though he has no personal experience of this, yet. Anything is possible.

Richard Hammond has had a longstanding love affair, bordering on the obsessive some might say, with caravans.

He has researched their origins and history, their celebrity owners, the uses to which they have been put, their place in history, their names, the jargon, games to play with them, things to do in them and even recipes to cook in them – not forgetting his opinions on what the future has in store for caravans. Will the humble caravan experience a renaissance with the credit crunch and the increasing cost of holidays abroad?

The Hamster also gives sound practical advice on how to use them to best advantage, how to race them (ensuring first they are of the non-static variety), and how to destroy them in interesting ways (of which he has much experience – 80 or so at the last count).

Richard’s Own Praise for A Short History of…..
“A masterful piece of narrative-driven historical research. And some great ideas for blowing up caravans”

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Richard Hammond’s BLAST LAB

“My Blast Lab is quite possibly, alongside my garage, my favourite place in the world. In it, we carry out experiments and break stuff. Mostly it’s the breaking stuff that goes on. In these books we have included all the information you need to establish your own Blast lab at home where you can carry out experiments and, er, break stuff. Just don’t blame me”.

Richard Hammond’s BLAST LAB is an exciting new project for the Brainiac presenter, and is the first children’s series that he has both developed and hosted. The three books publishing in January 2009 are packed with a unique cocktail of anarchic experiments, eye-popping images, and astonishing facts. All this and much more put across the wonder of science to kids.

Richard, along with characters from the programme including Mini Miss and Ninja Nan, guides you through experiments and challenges, plus the books are packed with plenty of fascinating facts about all sorts of things including glow-in-the-dark cats, flying cars and see-through frogs. Each section in the main Blast Lab book includes easy-to-follow instructions that have immediate results, enabling young budding scientists to think for themselves and explore some of the weird scientific ideas that are shown in the programme.

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Richard Hammond’s

Richard Hammond’s BLAST LAB BRIGHT IDEAS comes with various components including an assortment of different coloured LED’s and wires. The science behind each experiment is explored using lively language, photography and illustrations to help children apply the same techniques to different activities.

In addition to this new make-and-do guide, there are also three new activity books, each packed with a unique cocktail of anarchic experiments, eye-popping images, stickers and astonishing facts.

Richard, along with characters from the programme including Mini Miss and Ninja Nan, guides readers through experiments and challenges, plus each book is packed with plenty of fascinating facts about all sorts of things including how to make a lava lamp and how to grow crystals. Each experiment in the main Bright Ideas book includes easy-to-follow instructions that have immediate results, enabling budding scientists to think for themselves and explore an assortment of weird and fun scientific ideas.

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CAN YOU FEEL THE FORCE? is a physics book unlike any you’ve seen before. Most are packed with jargon and equations, but this book is completely different. It’s all about the weird and wonderful side of physics, with the hard bits let out! Find out why bubbles are round; why coffee always goes cold; and what electricity is actually made of.

It’s not just a reference book. It’s an interactive book full of intriguing puzzles, brainteasers, tricks and fun activities that you can try out for yourself. Find out how to impale a potato with a drinking straw or stick two books together with nothing but the mysterious force of friction!

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Car Science

Richard Hammond is in the driving seat for this turbo-charged tour through the nuts and bolts of car technology. Underneath the bonnet of every car there’s a lot of fast, furious, and spectacular science going on.

G-force, combustion, power, you name it, a car’s got it. Help your child discover all about the science of cars in this explosive tour. Find out how cars revolutionised the world, see how a car functions with jaw-dropping diagrams, cutaway drawings and cool graphics. Steer to the fundamental science behind the mechanics and then sit back for an exciting look into the future of minimal emissions, maximum fun. PLUS, find great things your child will love to make and do!

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Car Confidential

Richard Hammond's Car Confidential, packed with information and wit, is a must for anyone even remotely interested in cars. It includes an enormous variety of hints and tips:

car and traffic etiquette; how to buy a car; the seven ages of the motorist from learning how to drive when you are 18 to driving the wrong way down motorways when you are 80; a spotter’s guide to motorists in the style of a WW2 manual; customizing – what is OK and what isn’t; cool hearses to be buried in; and the alternative guide to road rage. There are also lots of lists of everything – such as the top noble failures: did you know that Chrysler put out a car aimed at women called the ‘Femme’ which came in one colour, pink, with matching pink handbag and lipstick? Or the top mad moments in motorsport history,dubious highway codes, most amazing roads… The odd, the mad, the bad, the curious or ridiculous are all here in this wonderful, witty and incredibly useful compendium of everything to do with cars and their drivers – all we ever needed to know about the modern world of motoring.

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What Not to Drive

One positive if belated aspect of 'Cool Britannia' is that British-originated cars have become (again?) among the coolest on the planet. Range Rover, Mini, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin - especially the

Aston Martin – these are names not only of historic significance but have a new resonance in the contemporary world too. But what of the not so cool cars, the cars you shouldn’t opt to buy – and those you shouldn’t even be seen in or alongside? No, not the Skoda or station wagon, which have a heroic anti-car coolness of their own, but the Golf or Astra or professional footballer’s Ferrari. This is a book that jumps from an enormous height on personalised number plates, but celebrates Jarvis Cocker’s decision to drive a station wagon and Roger Moore a Renault 5. It questions what happens to the status of your car after you have seen Bernard Manning or Jade Goodie posing next to a model of it in the newspaper. So there is a ‘Showroom Questionnaire’ for car manufacturers to check out their customers before they deign to sell them a car that might become irrevocably uncool as a result. As funny as it is cool and aspirational, WHAT NOT TO DRIVE will entertain all who love the information, banter and humour of BBC TV’s Top Gear.

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