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Authors: Jeremy Clarkson

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The World According to Clarkson

BOOK: The World According to Clarkson
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The World According to Clarkson
Book Jacket

PENGUIN BOOKS

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO CLARKSON

Jeremy Clarkson made his name presenting a poky motoring programme on BBC2 called
Top Gear
. He left to forge a career in other directions but made a complete hash of everything and ended up back on
Top Gear
again. He lives with his wife, Francie, and three children in Oxfordshire. Despite this, he has a clean driving licence.

The World According to Clarkson

JEREMY CLARKSON

PENGUIN BOOKS

PENGUIN BOOKS

Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London
WC2R 0RL
, England
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
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(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London
WC2R 0RL
, England

www.penguin.com

These articles first appeared in the
Sunday Times
between 2001 and 2003
This collection first published by Michael Joseph 2004
Published in Penguin Books 2005
1

Copyright © Jeremy Clarkson, 2004
All rights reserved.

The moral right of the author has been asserted

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject
to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent,
re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s
prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in
which it is published and without a similar condition including this
condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

EISBN: 978–0–141–90135–0

To Francie

Contents

Another Day’s Holiday? Please, Give Me a Break

All This Health and Safety Talk is Just Killing Me

Men are a Lost Cause, and We’re Proud of It

We Let Them Get Away with Murder on Radio

Willkommen and Achtung, This is Austrian Hospitality

Gee Whiz Guys, But the White House is Small

Flying Round the World, No Seat is First Class

They’re Trying to Lower the Pulse of Real Life

Forget the Euro, Just Give Us a Single Socket

I’d Have Laid Down My Life for Wotsisname

Creeping Suburbia isn’t Quite What I Expected

Is It a Plane? No, It’s a Flying Vegetable

Is This a Winner’s Dinner or a Dog’s Breakfast?

Call This a Riot? It was a Complete Washout

Being a Millionaire is Just One Step from being Skint

What Does It Take to Get a Decent Meal Round Here?

Cutting Lawns is the Last Word in Civilisation

An Invitation from My Wife I Wish I Could Refuse

How Big a Mistake are
You
Going to Make?

America, Twinned with the Fatherland

Cornered by a German Mob Bent on Revenge

Wising Up to the EU After My Tussles in Brussels

A Weekend in Paris, the City of Daylight Robbery

It’s a Work of Art, and It was Built on Our Backs

They Speak the Language of Death in Basque Country

Reason Takes a Bath in the Swimming Pool

You Can Fly an Awfully Long Way on Patience

What I Missed on My Hols: Everyday Madness

Rule the Waves? These Days We’re Lost at Sea

Why Can’t We Do Big or Beautiful Any More?

Learn from Your Kids and Chill Out Ibiza-Style

Going to the Dentist in the Teeth of All Reason

Sea Duel with the Fastest Migrants in the West

My Verdict? Juries are As Guilty As Hell…

The More We’re Told the Less We Know

Without a PR Protector, I’m Just Another Fat Git

Why Have an Argument? Let’s Say It with Fists

Speaking As a Father, I’ll Never be a Mother

I’m Just Talkin’ ’Bout My Generation, Britney

Chin Up, My Little Angel - Winning is for Losers

A Murderous Fox Has Made Me Shoot David Beckham

I Bring You News from the Edge of the Universe

Go to the Big Top: It’s Better than
Big Brother

The Nit-picking Twitchers Out to Ground Britain

Cricket’s the National Sport of Time Wasters

Have I Got News… I’m Another Failed Deayton

Home Alone Can be the Perfect State for a Child

Ivan the Terrible is One Hell of a Holidaymaker

In Terror Terms, Rambo Has a Lot to Answer For

House-Price Slump? It’s the School Run, Stupid

The Lottery will Subsidise Everything, Except Fun

The Shuttle’s Useless, But Book Me on the Next Flight

When the Chips are Down, I’m with the Fatherland

Save the Turtles: Put Adverts on Their Shells

Give Me a Moment to Sell You Staffordshire

A Quick Snoop Behind the Queen’s Net Curtains

Who Needs Abroad When You Can Holiday in Hythe?

We Have the Galleries, But Where’s the Art?

You Think SARS is Bad? There’s Worse Out There

Mandela Just Doesn’t Deserve His Pedestal

In Search of Lost Time, One Chin and a Life

In Search of a Real Garden at the Chelsea Show

To Boldly Go Where Nobody’s Tried a Dumb Record Before

Beckham’s Tried, Now It’s My Turn to Tame the Fans

The Unhappiest People on Earth? You’d Never Guess

Welcome to Oafsville: It’s Any Town Near You

If Only My Garden Grew As Well As the Hair in My Ears

Men, You Have Nothing to FEAR But Acronyms

Red Sky at Night, Michael Fish’s Satellite is On Fire

I Wish I’d Chosen Marijuana and Biscuits Over Real Life

I’ve been to Paradise… It was an Absolute Pain

Eureka, I’ve Discovered a Cure for Science

Why the Booker Shortlist Always Loses the Plot

Look in the Souvenir Shop and Weep for England

Eton - It’s Worse than an Inner-City Comprehensive

A Giant Leap Back for Mankind

What a Wonderful Flight into National Failure

The Peace Game in Iraq is Jeux sans Frontieères

The Juries are Scarier than the Criminals

They’re Trying to Frame Kristen Scott Donkey

All I Want for Christmas is a Ban on Office Parties

Another Day’s Holiday? Please, Give Me a Break

According to a poll, the vast majority of people questioned as they struggled back to work last week thought that England should have followed Scotland’s lead and made Tuesday a bank holiday.

Two things strike me as odd here. First, that anyone could be bothered to undertake such research and, second, that anyone in their right mind could think that the Christmas break was in some way too short.

I took ten days off and by 11 o’clock on the first morning I had drunk fourteen cups of coffee, read all the newspapers and the
Guardian
and then… and then what?

By lunchtime I was so bored that I decided to hang a few pictures. So I found a hammer, and later a man came to replaster the bits of wall I had demolished. Then I tried to fix the electric gates, which work only when there’s an omega in the month. So I went down the drive with a spanner, and later another man came to put them back together again.

I was just about to start on the Aga, which had broken down on Christmas Eve, as they do, when my wife took me on one side by my earlobe and explained that builders do not, on the whole, spend their spare time writing, so writers should not build on their days off. It’s expensive and it can be dangerous, she said.

She’s right. We have these lights in the dining room which are supposed to project stars onto the table below. It has never really bothered me that the light seeps out of the sides so the stars are invisible; but when you are bored, this is exactly the sort of thing that gets on your nerves.

So I bought some gaffer tape and suddenly my life had a purpose. There was something to do.

Mercifully, Christmas intervened before I could do any more damage, but then it went away again and once more I found myself staring at the day through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars. Each morning, bed and the blessed relief of unconsciousness seemed so far away.

I wore a groove in the kitchen floor with endless trips to the fridge, hoping against hope that I had somehow missed a plateful of cold sausages on the previous 4,000 excursions. Then, for no obvious reason, I decided to buy a footstool.

I took the entire family to the sort of gifty-wifty shop where the smell of pot-pourri is so pungent that it makes you go cross-eyed. Even though the children were lying on the floor gagging, I still spent hours deliberately choosing a footstool that was too small and the wrong colour so that I could waste some more time taking it back.

The next day, still gently redolent of Delia Smith’s knicker drawer, I decided to buy the wrong sort of antique filing cabinet. But after the footstool debacle my wife said no. So it seemed appropriate that I should develop some kind of illness. This is a good idea when
you are at a loose end because everything, up to and including herpes, is better than being bored.

It’s hard, I know, to summon up a bout of genital sores at will, but with a little effort you can catch a cold which, if you whimper enough, will easily pass for flu. And yup, even lying in bed watching Judy Finnegan in a Santa suit beats the terminal cancer that is boredom.

Boredom forces you to ring people you haven’t seen for eighteen years and halfway through the conversation you remember why you left it so long. Boredom means you start to read not only mail-order catalogues but also the advertising inserts that fall on the floor. Boredom gives you half a mind to get a gun and go berserk in the local shopping centre, and you know where this is going. Eventually, boredom means you will take up golf.

On the day before Christmas Eve I sat next to a chap on the train who, as we pulled out of Paddington, called his wife to say that he was finished, that he had retired and that from now on his life was entirely his own. He was trying to sound happy about it, but there was a faraway, baleful look in his eyes which said it all.

He would spend a month or two at home, breaking interior fixtures and fittings and generally killing everything in the garden, and then one day he would accept an invitation to tee off and that would be it. His life would be over long before he actually stopped breathing. Pity. He seemed like a nice chap.

Or what about fishing? You see those people sitting on the side of the canal in the drizzle and you wonder:
how bored do you have to be at home for that to be better?

The answer, I suspect, is ‘not very’. After a week I was at screaming pitch and I couldn’t even cook some sausages to put in the fridge because one afternoon, when my wife wasn’t looking, I had tried to mend the Aga. And the thing had come off.

I could have put it back, of course, but strangely, when you’re not busy, there is never enough time to do anything. I wrote a letter and still have not found enough space in the day to put it in an envelope. Mind you, this might have something to do with the fact that I spent eight hours last Tuesday on the lavatory. Well, it’s as good a hobby as any.

Apparently the British work longer hours than anyone else in Europe and stern-faced men are always telling us that this causes stress and heart disease. Fair point; but not working, I assure you, would give us all piles.

Sunday 7 January 2001

All This Health and Safety Talk is Just Killing Me

You may recall that after the Hatfield train crash last year six-chins Prescott, our deputy prime minister, turned up at the scene and gave the distinct impression that with a bit more effort and a lot more investment, nobody would die on the railways ever again.

There was a similar response last week to the news that the number of people caught drinking and driving in the run-up to Christmas rose by 0.1 per cent. All sorts of sandalistas have been on the radio to explain that if the drink-drive limit were lowered to minus eight and the police were empowered to shoot motorists on sight, then death on the road would become a thing of the past.

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