One of the parts of being a haulier that interests prospective drivers and laypeople alike is the notion of adventure - the wealth of exciting situations and different people a trucker can expect to meet on the road. That’s what makes career autobiographies so compelling: a whole career’s worth of driving can be distilled into a relatable, few-hour-long highlight reel, full of laughs and stories about all the moments that make the job so lovable. |
Nicholls was an HGV owner-operator for twenty-three years, beginning in the 1970’s. His experience is broad and his writing style friendly. You’ll find it hard not to like Chris from the very first page, and it’s easy to soak in his stories. There and Back: A Journey Around My Life begins with the find of a discarded lorry in a scrap yard - a find that soon whisks Nicholls away on a career-long adventure as a professional haulier, ending in the 1990’s with sweeping changes to the haulage industry that made it difficult for him to continue.
Nicholls’ familiar, personable style is what underpins the book and keeps you invested in the characters and stories he introduces along the way, but there’s plenty by way of content. As well as a rollercoaster story of his career, there’s a compilation of short stories to further immerse the reader in the life Nicholls enjoyed. Hauliers will find any number of situations that’ll have them chuckling and nodding as they recognise bizarre quirks of the industry. You may even find a few situations so weird and specific that you hadn’t even considered that they might have happened to anyone other than yourself: some parts of the industry, no matter how odd they may seem, are just a part of the trucking lifestyle!
There and Back also characterises the industry and the changes it underwent in the later part of the 20th century. Veteran truckers who were on the road during these years are likely to enjoy the memory trip, while younger drivers will find Nicholls’ account useful in understanding how the profession has changed, not just on paper, but in terms of what it was really like to be driving throughout this time period. All this told in a very readable and relatable style which helps to elevate There and Back above the majority of truckers’ autobiographies out there.
All in all, the great strength of Nicholls’ autobiographical work is that it collects a number of thrilling adventures without ever seeming excessively fanciful. Anyone who’s spent time on the road can relate to the stories, situations and characters he comes across during his adventures and the book provides just the right dose of excitement and escapism while remaining firmly grounded in the reality of the world of an HGV driver. While non-drivers may well enjoy this light-hearted gem, There and Back will truly be appreciated by hauliers, who may find much of the book eerily familiar.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry across the UK and Europe. It provides services for matching work for a haulier with jobs and to buy and sell road transport and haulage work in the domestic and international markets. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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