Another Fine Mess by Tim Moore

4 out of 5 stars

Tim Moore has a knack for selecting travel adventures that don’t really fit the norm. He has followed the route of the Tour de France on his own bike, walked with a donkey across Spain, worked his way around the streets of the Monopoly board and suffered the delights of the Eurovision Song Contest. This challenge though was slightly more sensible compared to some. He wanted to take a Model T Ford from the Atlantic and drive all the way across America to reach the pacific ocean.

There was a twist though, he was doing it to see if he could get a greater understanding of why this country had voted for the orange glowing businessman. His route would take him from the gentle landscape of Virginia to the place where his car, was made, Detroit, before heading south to Texas.

After experiencing the deep south, he turns north to head up through the towns of the flyover states in the state that voted for Trump, staying in slightly seedy motels and occasionally people’s homes. The beautiful car he is driving is very different to anything he has experienced before, and he knows that he has to learn the starting ritual otherwise he isn’t going to be getting anywhere on his first sol day. Oh, and being utterly mechanically inept isn’t going to help his cause either…

But first, he has to get the 160 miles from where he bought the car, that he christens Mike, to the coast. Driving these old Models T’s is utterly unlike driving a modern car, there are no creature comforts, air-con or soundproofing. The pedal configuration is different to modern cars, there are three pedals, still, the right-hand pedal is the brake, the left hand is the clutch and gear selector with a choice of high and low gears and the centre pedal selects reverse. Somehow he makes it and collects a bottle full of Atlantic seawater with the hope of being able to tip it into the Pacific.

The other issue with these cars is they need constant tinkering and maintenance to keep going. Fine for those that have some technical competence, but for Moore, this is quite challenging. But slowly he gets used to doing the things that he needs to do each day to keep it going. It does break down. Quite a lot. And almost everywhere he stopped, there would be someone who knew someone who had one of these and was willing to help him get back running again. In fact, Mike would need an awful lot of TLC all the way up to open-heart surgery to get him to the other side of America.

I am a big fan of Tim Moore’s books and I liked this a lot. His travels are always slightly outlandish, and mostly mad and he has a knack for extracting humour from a lot of the situations he encounters. He learnt a lot about America under Trump, how it had become more polarised with people’s political opinions. However, even in the flyover states, there was still a willingness to help a mechanically inept Englishman who had a wildly different opinion to most of those helping him. It is not as funny as some of his other books though, however, there are moments of hilarity, such as when some guys had helped him put it all back together and could not get it to start at all, then Moore remembered that he hadn’t turned the fuel back on…

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2 Comments

  1. Liz Dexter

    I thought I hadn’t seen one from him for a while. Looks fun, I do like an American road trip …

    • Paul

      I have had this to read for ages. His latest is Vuelta Skelter but I haven’t got a copy of that one yet

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