The last review of something I did for the website was the first Ned Boulting stand up show.
There are some comparables between that piece of what was essentially theatre, and this book by Eurosport anchor, Carlton Kirby.
Boulting is similarly aloof and abstract. I find his commentary resembles Kirby whilst not being in the same wheelhouse.
I suppose you could say that ‘gnarly’ old Carlton obsesses more about roundabouts and uses more cliché.
However Ned gets a much smoother ride from those ‘internet people’ that Mark Cavendish used to complain about. Does this book get to the bottom of why that is? and is it fair to bash Carlton more so than other cycling commentators?
Well. Essentially that depends on your viewpoint before you open the pages to be honest.
If your mindset is that Carlton is a numpty with a motormouth spilling a collection of words and phrases that sometimes come together to describe a bike race then there is nothing in this book to make you think differently.
The man himself is very accepting of his position in polarising the views of cycling fans with his style and delivery and will no doubt have dropped some passages in this book to boil their blood.
Having read the book objectively, I think that the haters who have read it will be using it as fuel on their anti-Kirby fires. Everyone else might have a bit of fun.
If you can keep a level head and get past reading the introduction from Sean Kelly in his voice in your head (I couldn’t) then you are going to get a book full of ‘pals in a pub’ anecdotes which will vaguely enhance your cycling knowledge but mainly make you fearful of backwater French hotels.
I wouldn’t say that the book hangs together and grips you, its very much a pick up and put down piece designed to make you chuckle and read bits back out loud to your partner. She hated me doing that though and prefers Rob Hatch.
There isn’t the level of detail and description of races and characters you would find in a William Fotheringham book, but then there are people that hate them as well so its all relative.
If you are a fan of Carlton and want to understand what goes on in that head of his (scary) then this is the perfect light entertainment style book to enjoy.
As to why he gets the most stick of all cycling commentators, I think its mainly because he is different and that comes through clearly in the book.
Is the criticism fair? I think its not. Anyone trying to do a job and talk on the air about something for hours at a time day after day isn’t going to be 100% on top of their game all the time. Although I would certainly love a go at it !!
My take out is that if you love Carlton you will love it. If you don’t do your blood pressure a favour and stay away!