Looking for a last-minute stocking filler? Then try this

| 21 Dec 2012

My recent reading, the Gentleman's Guide to Motoring, is a quirky book by Vic Darkwood that looks like an excellent stocking filler if you can get it in time for Christmas.

It is a sort of antidote to the banality and aggression of modern motoring that applies the values of the tweedy golden age of driving to a generation that might not necessarily feel the need to automatically smoke a pipe and wear a hat behind the wheel.

Darkwood – if that is his real name – is presumably a ‘young fogey’ of the VSCC persuasion and instructs us in the gentlemanly arts of road etiquette and roadsmanship.

Under the heading of 'demeanour' he writes 'experiment clenching and unclenching your jaw, raising a quizzical eyebrow... make sure you try out your 'road face' on close friends before driving your vehicle'.

He also offers advice on recreational driving, maintenance and repairs and sartorial choices, even down to keeping your facial hair tidy.

In the world of the motoring gentleman, motorways are only used as a last resort and about the most modern car you should ever aspire to owning is an Alvis 3 Litre.

Written with the sensibilities of a dandy and a gentleman of leisure who can afford to be loftily eccentric, it is an amusing and surprisingly lengthy read that juxtaposes the stiffly Brylcreemed culture of the 1940s and '50s (doctored pictures of lots of grinning men in cardigans) with modern concepts such as chavs and obese people.

There's a chuckle-inducing section on gentlemanly road signage that advocates no spoiler zones, obligatory smoking and no baseball cap zones, plus spouse disposal facilities – brown signs where 'the wife' can be dumped if she gets gobby.

The only thing I'd knock it on is the fact that it's a bit dull to look at. Anyway, at £9.99 (ISBN 9780749572754), it's worth a go.