Magazine article The Spectator

King of the Road

Magazine article The Spectator

King of the Road

Article excerpt

No life

Was Gore Vidal right? Does a little part of you die every time a friend succeeds? I've been asking myself that question every night at 11.20 this week since that's when a five-part documentary series made by my best friend Sean Langan has been going out on BBC 2. Called Langan Behind the Lines, it's a hair-raising dash through the forbidden territories of the Middle East in which Sean risks life and limb to film footage using a hidden camera. It's been getting rave reviews (see page 57).

The answer is no, a little part of you doesn't die. An enormous part of you dies. I've been sitting down with my fiancee to watch it every night and a typical conversation between us goes like this:

Me: He looks ridiculous with that stupid beard.

Caroline: You're just jealous.

Me: Don't be absurd! I couldn't be happier for him.

Caroline: Oh yeah? In that case, why have you blacked out his teeth in all the pictures of him in today's papers?

Me: All the pictures? There were only three and one of them was the size of a postage stamp.

Caroline: Mee-ow!

Fortunately, on Tuesday I got a chance to claw back some of my pride. About a fortnight ago I was rung up by a PR woman who asked me if I'd be interested in finding out more about Remington's new range of electric shavers. I'm listed on the masthead of GQ as a `special correspondent' so I get calls like this occasionally. I was about to say no when she explained that it would involve a day at the Nigel Mansell Racing School at Brand's Hatch. Now that was an offer I couldn't refuse.

She then asked if I could recommend any other men's magazine journalists and I immediately suggested Sean who's a `contributing writer' at Esquire. He may have beaten me in the game of life, I told myself, but here was a chance to show him that, when it comes to pure, unbridled testosterone, I can still leave him in the dust.

When the day of reckoning came, Sean and I rendezvoused with some other lad mag writers at Paddington station and made our way to Brand's Hatch. Following a mercifully short lecture about Remington's new product range, we were then given a briefing on what the day held in store for us by a man called Richard from the Racing School. First, we'd learn the basics by going round the track a few times with an instructor in an Audi TT; then, provided we weren't `total muppets', we'd graduate to a single-seater racing car and compete against each other for ten laps. …

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