Top Gear Humour

I enjoy Top Gear the BBC car show (although Jeremy Clarkson is tiring, to say the least) and was curious about “Captain Slow,” James May. He has struck me as someone with a sharp mind and wit. This is confirmed by Wikipedia with the documented (Yes Jim! Citation!) of May’s firing from Autocar magazine.

Dismissal from Autocar magazine

In an interview with Richard Allinson on BBC Radio 2,[21] May confessed that he was fired in 1992 from Autocar magazine after putting together a hidden message in one issue. At the end of the year, the magazine’s “Road Test Year Book” supplement was published. Each spread featured four car reviews and each review started with a large, red, drop capital letter. May’s role was to put the entire supplement together, which “was extremely boring and took several months”. He went on to say:

James May's hidden message

So I had this idea that if I re-edited the beginnings of all the little texts, I could make these red letters spell out a message through the magazine, which I thought was brilliant. I can’t remember exactly what it said, but it was to the effect that “You might think this is a really great thing, but if you were sitting here making it up you’d realise it’s a real pain in the arse”. It took me about two months to do it and on the day that it came out I’d actually forgotten that I’d done it because there’s a bit of a gap between it being “put to bed” and coming out on the shelves. When I arrived at work that morning everybody was looking at their shoes and I was summoned to the managing director of the company’s office. The thing had come out and nobody at work had spotted what I’d done because I’d made the words work around the pages so you never saw a whole word. But all the readers had seen it and they’d written in thinking they’d won a prize or a car or something.

May’s original message, punctuated appropriately, reads: “So you think it’s really good, yeah? You should try making the bloody thing up. It’s a real pain in the arse.”[22]

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