Start the Car: The World According to Bumble – book review

We finally got round to reading this. Oddly, this hasn’t clarified whether it’s worth reading or not.

A friend who follows cricket fairly closely but who at the time hadn’t watched much of Sky’s coverage, once asked us about David Lloyd. He’d got the impression that Bumble was this self-consciously zany caricature – a distant cousin to the Fast Show’s Colin Hunt, perhaps. We said: “No, no no. You’ve got it all wrong. Lloyd’s a decent commentator who is capable of being genuinely, genuinely funny.”

And that’s the problem with this book. Put Lloyd in a staid setting, commentating on a quiet afternoon session, and he can be hilarious, but build a book around the quirkier parts of his character and you lose that contrast. Look at the cover. It’s clear how they’re trying to sell this.

Some sections are good. You get some decent insights into the players he coached when he was with England as well as a few nuggets about his fellow Sky commentators. These passages read more like a traditional autobiography and that probably would have been a better approach, the humour shining when set within that more traditional tone. As it is, humour’s the focus, but Lloyd is only really funny in the right context.

We’re not sure whether it’s that the book doesn’t know what it is or whether it’s a byproduct of the deliberately chatty tone, but some of the digressions are really awkward. He’ll be talking about something relatively serious and then it’s almost like a siren goes off to signal playtime for the next three paragraphs. That then leads to further anecdotes and that’s the way things go until the end of the chapter.

This sounds like we’re contradicting ourself, but there’s a big difference between a traditional autobiographical tone dotted with humour and a traditional tone which completely disappears in favour of a wholly humorous tone. The latter is unsettling for the reader.

It’s like reading two different books – a feeling that is only heightened by the subject matter. He talks earnestly about Test cricket in the middle and then devotes a chapter towards the end to his mates down the pub. They aren’t cricketers or anything. They’re just blokes he knows from the pub.

This comes across as being a worse review than it should because the last few chapters are the weakest ones and so that’s the taste that you’re left with. There is certainly some good stuff in here. It’s really just a matter of how tolerant you are to the rest of it.

Should you so desire, you can buy Start the Car here.

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8 Appeals

  1. As a sort of extension to this, I have felt for a while now that Lloyd is a pretty abysmal T20 commentator but is an excellent commentator in the Test matches. He repeats himself so much in the T20s that I could pretty much do it for him now, yet when he has to shut up and tone it down he is funny, interesting and actually quite insightful.

    • King Cricket

      March 18, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      That’s exactly it. In Twenty20’s, he’s playing ‘Bumble’. Someone’s told him to be off-the-wall because they think that’s what people like, but he’s not himself – he’s a caricature. Same with this book to a great extent.

  2. The cover and the title were sufficient to put me off. I won’t be buying it. But then again, for every me that’s put off by these things there are ten others who will buy it just because it looks zany. Ah well, this is the never-changing world in which we live in.

    Do you ever get the feeling that there is nobody, absolutely nobody, involved in public life that has even a vague understanding of nuance and quality? The parallel with T20 cricket is quite strong. In test matches, sixes are amazing and Lloyd’s humour is entertaining. In T20, the sixes and the jokes are every ball, resulting in both becoming tiresome. As we’ve said here before, icing needs a cake, 100% icing is horrific.

  3. I read it a while back, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The stuff about his mates I could take or leave, but it did bring to mind Kenny Senior from Phoenix Nights.

  4. Ah, Colin Hunt.

    “That’s Colin Hunt’s office trolley. I say – Colin Hunt’s office trolley!”

    In other news, cricket story of the year so far: http://m.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/26625171?SThisEM

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