“I Couldn’t Care Less,” by Anthony Phelps (The Harborough Publishing Co., Ltd.). 8s. 6d.
We have had divers books, mostly good, by R.A.F. fighter pilots, one book — very good indeed — by an R.A.F. bomber pilot. Now we have the personal reminiscences of an A.T.A. pilot — and Anthony Phelps’s “I Couldn’t Care Less” is another excellent, live flying book. Those readers who have enjoyed Phelps’s “Cars I Have Owned.” “There’s Worse Things Than Opels” and “Enthusiastus Extinctus” in Motor Sport will like his book. This is a personal story of the author’s time with A.T.A. as a pilot, after his R.A.F. career had ended; later, of course, he was a civilian test pilot, but “I Couldn’t Care Less” confines itself to his A.T.A. flying. One realises after reading it just how much A.T.A. did to help win the war and just how exacting was the kind of flying their pilots did as a daily job. Phelps has plenty to say about his personal opinion of many different air-craft. He also shows up a side of A.T.A. life which will have escaped many of us, namely, the difficulty of finding decent hotel accommodation after a hard day’s flying, and the agony of travel on British railways when the ferry ‘plane had been inadvertently missed. He does a grand job in reminding us that A.T.A. shared equally with the .R.A.F. and Fleet Air Arm the humour and tragedy inseparable from war. There is not much motoring in this book, but, as would be expected from a 2-litre Lagonda enthusiast and Bamford and Martin-Aston exponent, what there is is very much “up our street.” We appreciate the author’s tribute to the satisfaction to be derived from a long run in a good sports car, something not to be even compared with flying and able to materially assist in curing a nervous breakdown, no matter what an M.O. would think – we, too, have found this so. Then, visiting the late R. O. Shuttleworth’s aerodrome, Phelps is reminded of what officialdom owes to young men with mechanical knowledge and the willingness to drive and fly fast; his comments on how the bureaucrats have denied such men the expression of their talents — are doing so even now, with the Battle of Britain still a vivid memory — are comments which will be agreed by everyone who motors fast but sanely; and by many others, too, who realise that the war was one of mechanisation.
Apart from a few serious observations such as these, the book is written by one who lived by the A.T.A. motto which forms its title, and who writes as he lived – vigorously, in the present, letting the future bring what it will. Definitely a good book. Its 134 pages were disposed of at one sitting the same day as we received the book — you will probably treat it the same way. — W. B.