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Five reasons to listen to James May
By Kerry Wright | Thu, 28 Feb 2013


With an arsenal of dry quips, James May (aka Captain Slow) is the uncle everyone wishes they had at the dinner table for awkward family gatherings.

He’s an astonishingly intelligent man with an interest in just about anything nerdy and a loveable way of rambling his way through complex scientific theory. He's set to share some of his wisdom in James May's Things You Need to Know (Thursday, 28 February at 21:00 on BBC Knowledge). So hush up: you could learn something.

Here's why you should listen to James May:

He’s an unlikely action hero.

Tom Cruise could learn from May’s sophisticated approach to real-life action. He displays an admirable lack of drama when placed in situations that would make you "wet your trousers", as he might say. Frankly, Captain Calm would be a better nickname. 

Some of the staggeringly manly things he’s done include driving a modified Hilux to the edge of a volcano to collect still-cooling lava, taking the Bugatti Veyron to its top speed and journeying to the edge of freakin’ space. All while mildly explaining the physics behind each activity to gobsmacked audiences.

Don’t let his scruffy hair fool you: this is not a man sitting at home with a newspaper and cup of earl grey.



Particle physics got you stumped? He can’t say the same.

After realising that Top Gear perhaps wasn’t the forum for thorough explanations of complex topics (torque, the theory of relativity and how Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata drives women wild), he’s been given other TV shows in which to waffle on to his (and our) content.

He understands all the things you don’t. More so, he understands all the things that you thought you did, better than you ever could. Here’s an example:



He refuses to grow up.

In an effort to bring classic toys back to life, and regress to a time when he could happily play without bullies like Jeremy Clarkson around to tease him, May picked a handful of children’s toys that have stood the test of time and then built them to "big-people" scale in James May’s Toy Stories.

One of these turned out to be an architectural and engineering marvel: a fully-sized house made entirely of Lego (yep, even the loo). Here he is casually enjoying the view:




He doesn’t care for clothes.

In a celebrity-driven environment, you might think that he’d bend to pressure to update his wardrobe or hire a stylist. But May’s fashion choices seem to be driven by two thoughts: "Will this cover all my bits", and, "Is the pattern good camouflage for stains". 

In James May's Man Lab, he took his pragmatic dress sense a step further and designed a jumpsuit intended to keep men from the tedious task of choosing garments each day. It featured countless pockets for men to stash the contents of their "man drawer": breath mints, bog roll, extra bullets. It never took off, but you have to respect a man who tries to squeeze a few minutes back into his day this way.



His pragmatic brilliance extends to useful applications for everyday items.

Though we can’t imagine his girlfriend must love this side of him, James May is a man who could even find an unintended use for a tampon. We'd rather let him explain:



Now that you’ve converted to James Mayoism, don’t forget to watch James May’s Things You Need to Know, starting Thursday, 28 February at 21:00 on BBC Knowledge.


You can also catch him season 2 of James May’s Man Lab, currently airing Wednesdays at 20:30 on Discovery Channel and sharing the screen with Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in season 19 of Top Gear, Wednesdays at 20:00 on BBC Entertainment.
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