13 Jul 2011

Clarkson is funny

Jeremy Clarkson makes me laugh, and that is a considerable quality. I know that he annoys a lot of righteous-thinking people as well, and that is another positive point to notch up on his behalf. Rather like A.A.Gill or, a bit earlier, Auberon Waugh, about both of whom I have already written on this blog. Although with different backgrounds, all are/were journalists and have a strong streak of that British form of irreverance and satire that has also, in slightly different fields, produced both Private Eye and Monty Python.

Here is a quote from the fairly complete Wikipedia entry on Clarkson:

"Clarkson's views are often showcased on television shows. In 1995 Clarkson appeared on the light hearted comedy show Room 101, in which a guest nominates things they hate in life to be consigned to nothingness. Clarkson despatched caravans, houseflies, the sitcom Last of the Summer Wine, the mentality within golf clubs, and vegetarians."

Not living in England, I do not know about Last of the Summer Wine, and I do not mind houseflies too much (in any case I can usually do something about them, unlike the other pests mentioned). But I fully I agree with him on the rest, although I think that we probably eat a bit too much meat for our own good. And he has obviously forgotten camping cars, that modern avatar of the caravan, and even uglier at that.


I have just been reading a collection of Clarkson gems on what he considers to be the greatest pieces of machinery ever made. Clarkson is big on machines, and not just cars, the testing of which gained him his reputation as a no-punches-pulled machine head who could simultaneously annoy motorcar manufacturers and ecologists: no men feat! The book is entitled "I know you got soul" and, for once, the Daily Telegraph is dead right when it says (don't worry, I didn't buy the rag to find out: the quote is on the book's cover) "Extremely funny".

Just to give you some idea of this man"s talent, how about this excerpt about the Rolls Royce?

"There is also a sense of imperiousness, a sense that you are really driving around in Queen Victoria. Its the effortless power and the sense of empire. Yes, the leather may come from Bavarian cows, and all the components may arrive at the undergound factory having already been assembled in Germany, but for all we know Elgar's quill was bought in Munich. It didn't stop his music from being as English as the Malvern Hills. I loved my time with the Rolls as much as everyone else hated it, and me, for having one."

Or this, about aircraft carriers and a visit to the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower:

"From the air it doesn't look mighty at all. In that vast grey ocean under a featureless grey sky it looks like a playing card. I know runways. I spend my life tearing up and down them in fast cars. So I know how long they have to be, and the one on top of the Eisenhower wasn't long enough. Not by a long way.
Here's what was going to happen. We'd land, fail to stop, fall off the front and then the huge ship would run over the plane, turning it over and over until it, me and everyone else on board was minced by one of the three nuclear-powered, five-bladed propellors, each of which is 21 feet in diameter."

And there is much more of this ilk in the book. The man has a talent akin to that of the late, great Hunter S.Thompson (yes, he of Fear and Loathing fame). And he probably uses less illicit substances to do it as well. Remember, he and Gill had the balls (not quite sure that this is the apporopriate term here) to put themselves in the window of an Amsterdam whore street. And, according to Gill, Clarkson had the most propositions, probably on account of his fame as the presenter of Top Gear.

Read on...