the european union is currently and perhaps always will be, a topical subject of conversation and comment. having entered life as the common market, a european body to help regulate and encourage trade between member states, it has now arguably become the monster our leaders have all created. i doubt there is a single community in the uk where some obscure or idiotic ruling has not changed things for the worse, though in mitigation, there are quite likely a number of others that have made things a touch more palatable.
those we don't really want to hear about because where's the fun in that?
but midst each and every regulation that has made monty python's ministry of silly walks look increasingly less silly and far closer to reality, i'm surprised there hasn't been one that caters to the minimum and maximum size of what you and i would refer to as a book.
according to common lore, everytbody has within them, a book just waiting to get out. judging by the standard of contributions received at our local newspaper, these books would be grammatically inept, and certainly badly spelt. however, it's a quote that surely equals that of andy warhol's contention that everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes. (it's a shame that can't be enforced upon folks such as jeremy clarkson and simon cowal). i have been occasionally encouraged to turn my own writing talents, such as they are, towards book form, but i live in constant fear that i'd say everything i needed to say in a single chapter (hard to believe, i know), thus offering any publisher a somewhat anorexic manuscript.
however, the apparent absence of any minimum size for a book would likely allow me, in theory at least, to become an author. and the lack of any maximum constraints, other than the binding process, presumably allows authors such as feargal mckay to offer us volumes such as 2014's the complete book of the tour de france. it is, by its very size and heft, a doorstop of a book. i even went so far as trying it; and it worked.
no doubt this fascinating compendium from 100 editions of the race looked a lot slimmer when first published in 1988, and it's hard to see how it could manage to become any larger without being split into volumes a la the encyclopaedia britannica. in point of fact, that may well have been a clever idea several years ago, for i really can't see me wanting to buy the 2014 edition if i already owned that from 2013 or perhaps others from the past.
would i not simply be acquiring much of the same information paid for in previous years?
however, that is an accusation that can easily be laid at the door of many other books, and not just those from the world of cycling. that cycle sport has gained thousands of new aficionados in the uk in recent years may not be in any serious doubt. nor is the fact that many of those recently recruited are often less clued up than one undoubtedly needs to be during those sunday morning ride conversations. with the grand depart leaving yorkshire in a matter of 40 days or so (hadn't you heard?), i'd think several evenings of earnest revision would pay great dividends. but where to start?
probably, i should think, with fergal's book.
i'd be telling fibs if i said there was much, if any, original material contained in this massive book's 722 pages. yet even such largesse must face its constraints of space, leaving mr mckay in the position of having to precis pretty much all of the important historical facts.
"Il Duce, Benito Mussolini, really wanted the glory of a Tour de France win for Italy. His hopes dashed in 1937 as Bartali went for the Giro/Tour double, he issued an order for 1938: the Tour, and only the Tour. Bartali, the defending Giro D'Italia champion, was ordered to sit out the corsa rosa and concentrate solely on winning the Tour de France."
if you think that reads just a tad like a high school essay, then i fear you may be correct. this is not, and was probably never intended to be, great literature. however, given that i doubt it will ever be read in a single sitting, it does manage to provide salient information in bite sized chunks. but what really sets it apart, and may be its unique selling point are the comprehensive statistical tables relating to each year's running of the race. those could be pored over for hours. aside from such tabulated information, it is sparsely illustrated, but the paper stock does not offer particularly high quality reproduction.
it is bang up to date; the final chapter records froome's tour victory of last year, while the appendix and bibliography following are quite comprehensive, even stretching to an explanation of common cycling terms, a feature that ought to assist those hours of pre-tour study. there have been, as previously testified, hundreds of tour de france books published recently, all of them saying the same thing in slightly different ways; in truth, this one is no different, except to say that it may be one of the easiest from which to glean pertinent facts in a hurry when needed. the price of only £25 might conceivably simplify your choice, either as a present for the newbie in the family or as a reference guide for the coffee sh.. sorry, clubhouse.
monday 2 june 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................