Columns Roy Lanchester

Roy Lanchester on his new book

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As a motoring journalist I have written for a great many outlets over the years from Your Yorkshire and short-lived North Yorkshire youth zine NYORKS to prestige glossies such as Total Canalling and Business Hotel. However, I’ve always had a soft spot for this very website, and not just because they run stuff I’ve already written for other people and therefore don’t ask me to do any work.

Yes, I’ve always been very fond of Sniff Petrol so when, in early 2017, they rang to ask if I would write a memoir of my time in the motor noting trade you can imagine my reaction, which was to tell them to shit off. In my defence, I was under duress at the time as I was on the Hyundai Ioniq first drive in North Wales, a goose had stolen some of my trousers and I was having a fierce debate with one of the organisers about what constituted a medically dangerous amount of cheese.

A few days later, however, I popped open a second bottle of thinking juice at home and reflected on the idea, in particular the suggestion they would pay me for it. At this point I realised it wasn’t a bad thought as it seemed like an apt time to look back on my career so far, 2017 being the year of my 60th birthday and therefore the time I would retire if I was a workshy civil servant or a woman. I therefore had no hesitation in ringing Sniff Petrol, clarifying the financial aspect, and then immediately agreeing to do it!

The result of that telephone conversation is my brand new book, How To Be A Motoring Journalist. I’m not especially keen on the title which wasn’t my idea at all. I wanted to call it ‘Roy Lanchester – My Life… So Far…’ but the publisher said that had “too much punctuation in it”. My problem with their title is that it makes it sound like an instruction manual for young people wishing to enter the motoring journalism trade and I can assure you it isn’t as I find the current crop of youths in our business annoying and don’t want any more turning up with their camcorders and their mineral waters and their cries of, “Aren’t you the one who shat in that Nissan?” Also, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m retiring so don’t bother ringing any of my current outlets and trying to steal my work because I’ve already briefed them accordingly, apart from the idiot editor of Mobile Catering who said he was looking for a new motoring correspondent anyway. Easy come, easy go. I’m not going to apologise for what happened at the Birmingham NEC trade show so he can go fry his own hand, and deliberately this time.

To be clear, How To Be A Motoring Journalist is a basically a memoir in which I look back on my life from birth to the present day and even into the future. Just to contradict what I said above, there are quite a few bits of advice within these reminiscences such as how to write about cars, how to deal with celebrities, how to be on television, and how to get sick out of an Edwardian armchair (REMEMBER TO CHECK IF THEY LEFT THAT BIT OUT IN THE END).

The central theme of the book, however, is my life including where I’m from (Harrogate) where I got my first break (also Harrogate) and where I am today (still Harrogate). However, I don’t want you to think this is just a book about Harrogate because I also detail my momentous move to Leeds and of course my years in London as a motoring hack on a national paper during those heady days we now call the eighties.

Also in the various chapters, I talk about the heyday of press launches, my stint as a judge for the EuroCar Excellence Awards, why you should try to stay on the right side of sub-editors, the problem with car photographers and what happens when you accidentally marry an undercover lesbian.

I’m not going to tell you any more about the book because you should just buy it for several reasons, one of them being the cut I get from each sale, although the publisher is being rather awkward about this at the moment amid some grumbles about the book writing expenses submitted upon completion of the finished words. Frankly, if the wine was meant to come out of my advance and was not claimable later this should be made clear from the off and not in a belated phone call that starts with you shouting, “nine fucking grand!?”

Anyway, my book is called How To Be A Motoring Journalist and you should buy it. Thanks.

How To Be A Motoring Journalist by Roy Lanchester is published on 12 April and is available as a paperback or an ebook, exclusively through Amazon.

Pre-order the ebook here