Roy Lanchester: How To Be a Motoring Journalist


For those really, really into their cars - those who read PistonHeads, hopefully - the name Richard Porter will be a familiar one. From Top Gear script editing to Sniff Petrol publishing to Gareth Jones on Speed podcasting, he's a man with opinions on all imaginable motoring topics.

His latest venture sees Roy Lanchester, hapless motoring journalist first seen on Sniff Petrol, publish his memoir-cum-professional-advice book: How to Be a Motoring Journalist.

Just to be very clear from the off: Roy is a fictional character, and the stories are from Porter's vivid imagination. Well, there are rumours that some are based in truth, but they persist only as rumours for now. Roy's story is one of local lad done (mostly) good, a fascination with the automobile inherited from a frequently absent father that became a career thanks to one or two lucky breaks. And pints. And bottles of wine.

There's no point pretending that How to Be a Motoring Journalist is a nuanced, emotional story about the strife faced by an automotive writer from Harrogate (even if Roy's love life does make you pity him slightly); anybody who has read Roy online will know better than that. Instead it's a hilariously entertaining, rather naughty, laugh-out-loud-in-Glasgow-Airport tale of the very worst bits of British motoring journalism in the 'good old days'.


That niche focus is of course the book's greatest appeal and perhaps a reason for some to stay away. For those with knowledge of the industry and its inner workings, stories regaled of regional launch mishaps and run ins with PRs will have particular relevance. Those who do not will not, of course, although to discount the book on that score would be a shame because the anecdotes are silly enough (and the writing humorous enough) to put a smile on your face.

Roy's has been a long and varied career, taking on local journalism with The Harrogate Post before getting his big break on Fleet Street. Having travelled the world with the industry at its pomp, experiencing the very finest cars, hotels, wines and whiskies of the 20th century, his career has slowed down more recently thanks to a number of misadventures you'll have to read about. Having also dabbled in radio presenting, TV work, PR and writing before this book, Roy has much to discuss.

The joy in Porter's writing is the attention-to-detail. By focusing on the minutiae of each scenario, the stories are somehow always funny. Be that in the description of a car (when was the last time you had to think about the Fiat Stilo Multiwagon?), or the location or the type of event, being so specific only serves to increase reader amusement. Again, having some knowledge of the industry helps, though you'd have to hope that a tale which includes being stung by a wasp in the trouser department and then vomiting on Jackie Stewart would appeal to anyone with an immature disposition. (Spoiler alert: that's probably the funniest story in a very funny collection, so enjoy that).

For them, and anyone else with a passing interest in Sniff Petrol and the amusement potential of the written word, Roy's memoir comes highly recommended. It's unlikely to be anybody's Desert Island Discs book choice, but if you want a giggle at the expense of some of the more woeful cars produced in the last thirty years, then it's hard to beat.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (8) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Turbobanana 11 Aug 2018

    "Now of course we all someone like; the fortunate advantage Porter has is that he's..."

    ... capable of typing in English?

  • noble12345 11 Aug 2018

    Turbobanana said:
    "Now of course we all someone like; the fortunate advantage Porter has is that he's..."

    ... capable of typing in English?
    rofl

    This did make me wonder if certain well known supercar makers deliberately put spelling mistakes into "Motoring Journalism" before allowing that propaganda to be printed to add an air of realism?


  • GranCab 11 Aug 2018

    I trust you guys at PH Towers have clubbed together and bought Nic Cack-it a copy to read and inwardly digest .....

  • B17NNS 11 Aug 2018

    Turbobanana said:
    "Now of course we all someone like; the fortunate advantage Porter has is that he's..."
    I ran it through Google translate. That doesn't understand this piece of motoring journalism either biggrin

    Edited by B17NNS on Sunday 12th August 18:32

  • V8 FOU 12 Aug 2018

    GranCab said:
    I trust you guys at PH Towers have clubbed together and bought Nic Cack-it a copy to read and inwardly digest .....
    Brilliant!!!

    But it probably isn't verbose enough for Mr Cack......

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