There are surely few MCC members who will not enjoy this book. John Bradshaw has shown enormous ingenuity to produce Muriel, a special three wheeler based on an early Morgan & powered by an Ariel engine – a marque which carries special significance for him – and then to give the whole project provenance by writing an act of fiction in which it figures – and in the next breath also produces its true story.
The novel is set around a bunch of friends from the Malvern area in the Thirties who are all keen motorcyclists and one, our hero, becomes seriously involved in trials. Told in the down to earth style of an early Neville Shute, we follow him not only on two and three wheels but in the wartime Navy spending a pretty pointless war in the cold back seat of a Fairey Swordfish. Much of the story is related by dialogue between the characters and I must admit I found much of this rather boring. Then I realised that the author had got it to a T: the limited conversation of those of us who prefer camshafts and muddy hills to discussions of ‘Higher Things’ and that’s exactly how we must often appear to others. I was genuinely sorry when, with motor sport beginning to recover in post war years, John brought the tale to whai thought was an abrupt and rather sad end – with little chance for a sequel….?
Turn the book around and there’s Muriel’s true story. Over the years there have been many books about how this, that or another special was created but I don’t think I’ve ever found one written so entertainingly in such detail. This section is so interspersed by personal anecdotes that we can only hope John gets round to an autobiography one day
This is a book I thoroughly enjoyed and one which I believe every one of you will do too. Drop a few broad hints around the place and perhaps your nearest and dearest will tell Santa – but even if you have to spend fifteen quid of your own money – three gallons of petrol in today’s currency – I doubt whether you’ll regret it.