Tuesday, 30 March 2010

On the Edge - Richard Hammond

I am a relatively new recruit to the Top Gear phenomenon. I had previously thought of it as just another car show with little to hold my attention. Admittedly, I still find that the segments that keep the boys happy with minute details and specs of various high performance cars generally gloss over me. However, I have really come to enjoy the innovative challenges the team are sometimes thrown, and the banter/friendly rivalry between the presenters. Also, my sweetie and I really enjoyed Top Gear Live in Auckland last year. It's not just a show for the boys!

I remember hearing a few years ago that one of the Top Gear presenters had sustained a serious brain injury in a car crash while filming a segment for the show. I didn't know enough about the programme to know who it was but knew that he was married with a young family. Gulp. That's got to hurt.

On the Edge (2007) is the story of Richard Hammond, the events leading up to his spectacular crash while driving a jet car, and his remarkable full recovery in the weeks and months following. It's quite a story and was co-written with his wife, Mindy, who takes over once Richard is in a coma following the crash.

Hammond's writing style reminds me somewhat of a Jack Russell terrier: jumping around restlessly, skipping about the place, and all the while yapping frantically. Yet, some events are described in extraordinary amounts of detail, including the day of the fateful jet car crash in September 2006. After a few chapters, my concentration started to lapse and I wondered whether I'd make it through the rest of the book.

By contrast, Mindy's chapters were far more grounded and emotionally charged. She has openly and honestly described what she and her family went through during Richard's rehabilitation, bar the specific details of the medical treatments for his brain injury. She shares her frustration and devastation when Richard initially fails to recognise her or remember events from his present life (he's ok with the distant past), his angry and confused outbursts at the hospital when he tries to remove the plethora of medical equipment he is hooked up to, conversational loops that repeat almost endlessly, and the effects of his memory reverting to an almost childlike state, all the while trying to keep her young family out of the public eye and creating the time and space her husband needed to recuperate. It sounds like she's an amazing woman.

On the Edge is an interesting read for Top Gear fans or people who simply enjoy a good biography.

Here is Richard Hammond humorously introducing his biography:

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I listened to the audio book of On The Edge on the arduous bus journey from Hamilton to Palmerston North two years ago - and really enjoyed it. The audio book was narrated by Mindy and Richard also which really added to the emotion of the hospital situations I think. I've got the book version sitting on my shelf too - I'm a huge Top Gear fan :)