Monday, 10 July 2006

my favourite right-wingers vol.1: Jeremy Clarkson

I can't drive. I have had a provisional license for a few years, but could never find any particular motive to go through the whole rigmarole of learning and doing a test 8 times and buying a Vauxhall Nova and pulling over into the hard shoulder at 1am after its carburettor spontaneously combusts for the 400th time. On top of that, I rather like not having one. I like walking to places, I like riding my bike, and in spite of the best efforts of Thatcher and the Thatcherspawn, I rather like riding trains to places too. In fact, there are only two enticing things about learning to drive - the thought of playing some klezmer at earspltting volume out of a full-on pimp-my-ride style £800 car stereo in suburban lanes at 3am, and a presumably renewed appreciation of Top Gear.

Top Gear, like the Decemberists and Nietzsche, never really seems appropriate to any historical constellation. It's always out of touch. Men watch it, but furtively. Women mutter disapprovingly of it, but nurture secret crushes on Richard Hammond. I, for my part, have been unswervingly loyal to it (well, you know, when it's on...) since the age of 10. It's changed a lot since then. Mainly, it appears to have nicked its 'new' format from Blue Peter. Always out of touch...

Its most implacable foe is, of course, the Guardian, the flagship rag of the foul organic chocolate-chomping, rooibos tea-swilling "left"-liberal scum.. This particular constituency, the sort of folks who think David Cameron must be an alright bloke because he rides a bike, leaves the guardian with little choice but to forgo offering real solutions to real problems and instead whine about Jeremy Clarkson. See this tv-crit word-puke for a start, in which Sam Wollaston seems to think that a TV program about cars should be entirely free of jokes about cars.

Clarkson, for his part, fucking loves it. And yes, he is funny. He's also completely self-aware. "This car just smell of man," he intones at one point. "As soon as you get in you want to go out for a curry and a fight." In fact, the whole dimension of irony seems to get completely missed by self-important Guardian types. Hate to go back to Wollaston's whine above, but he notes that they promise 'big changes' for the new series, and their big change turns out to be a dog who doesn't actually do anything. (A sneaky nod to Blue Peter, maybe?) He then complains that there actually haven't been any changes at all, which is simply spellbindingly stupid. Look, Sam, THE WHOLE POINT OF THE FUCKING DOG WAS TO HIGHLIGHT IN AN AMUSING WAY HOW THERE HAVEN'T BEEN ANY FUCKING CHANGES DESPITE THE BLATHERINGS OF NOTTING HILL CUNTS. That is what we, on planet Earth, call a joke. Nice, too, to see them - in the same episode - take a swipe at David Cameron for using their test track for a photo-op. "Jeremy and I agree on many things, but the environment isn't one of them," the Tory Nick Griffin smarms at a fawning cameraman. "You got that right, sonny," grins Clarkson in the studio.

In fact, if there's one genuine service JC offers society, it's puncturing this awful, self-satisfied air around certain strata of society to which Cameron now plays with all his might. Mainly, I'm thinking of cyclists. Cyclists REALLY hate Top Gear because Top Gear thinks we're cunts. And you know what? Top Gear's right about cyclists. We really are cunts. We demand to be taken seriously as road users, despite going of necessity at dangerously slow speeds - and then, as soon as we hit a red light, it's over the pavement! Our reckless disregard for the rules of the road is matched only by our contempt for those who dare infringe them in a car - who hasn't had 'al qaida' fantasies upon seeing some white van double-parked across a cycle lane? Yes, riding a bike - far from being some morally fibrous , envirnmentally conscious, karma-earning activity - is in fact the closest the average person comes in their daily life to clinical psychopathy. Long may Top Gear reign, that Clarkson might continue to knock us down a few pegs.