Sunday, April 26, 2015

Book Review: James May's Man Lab

You are thinking, "This is one of those rubbish TV series tie-in books. Why is he blogging this?"

I would reply, because I bought it very cheap in a charity shop, think James May is very sound on the subject of spanner arrangement and anyway, I've not done much bloggable modelling for the last few days.

Man Lab is indeed a TV tie in to the series of the same name. To be honest, on telly it came across as cartoony blokey and full of set-piece stunts that we are supposed to believe are spontaneous and hilarious.

The problem is that the basic premise is men can't do proper men's stuff like making and repairing things. In telly land, this is perfectly acceptable - witness the sneering dished out to anyone who knows how to do something more useful than reading an autocue for example.

On the page, this works rather better. We actually get some useful information and because it's got a picture of the bloke who used to be in Top Gear on the front, it is acceptable to read it.

Talking of pictures, for some reason there are many cartoons of May looking very much like Garth from the Daily Mirror years ago. I'm probably the only person to have spotted this.

Subjects covered include taking a penalty, fixing a toaster, mending clocks, making fish finger sandwiches, draw a portrait, tuning a guitar, escaping from prison, fixing punctures in a bike tyre, making tea, casting a concrete worktop, polishing boots, replacing a pane of glass, making a crazy golf course, wiring a plug and getting stuck items out of a vending machine.

It's all suitably jokey but hidden in there is some proper information. There's some obvious dumbing down, and the black & white format doesn't help much, but you probably could do some of these things after just reading this book.

I particularly like the tool of the week sections covering hammers, chisels, drills (nice explanation of the difference between HSS and carbon steel bits), saws and the plane. Knowing my stuff a little, it was clear that this was accurate and even helpful. OK, the plane bit was a thin but in a world where people don't know how to carry out even the most basic DIY, if they can get over the idea that it isn't all a joke, there is stuff to learn.

Surprisingly good.

James May's Man Lab Book of usefulness on Amazon


Paul B. said...

Will you be reviewing Jeremy Clarkson's Cold Soup Cook Book as well? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Probably not.

And on that bombshell ...