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On Your Bike, Jeremy Clarkson

 

I am delighted to read that Top Gear have dropped Jeremy Clarkson.

I know that Jeremy, deep down, as Russell Brand says of such people,  is a beautiful soul, but is just misguided, yet I don’t think I could spend much time in the same room as the guy. Apart from his obviously reprehensible behaviour of late (and of not so late, as I talked about before)

, his program (and I say his because that’s the way most people consider it) is just not my cup of tea.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Jeremy.

But of course, it’s a revolving door. He’ll be back, grinning, on some other channel soon enough.

But it’s still a great day. An important day.

Why?

I’ll tell you.

But first, full disclosure: I am not a top gear fan.

I am also very happy that “fellow presenter James May has hinted that Clarkson, Richard Hammond and he “came as a package”.” I truly hope that it is indeed, the “end of an era.”

A better, brighter, more just less bigoted era might just replace it. One with fewer fucking cars, too, wouldn’t be half bad.

Aside from the fact that glorifying cars is not necessarily the best way to change society the way it needs to be changed, I just don’t see the draw/ appeal of a program talking about cars.

Cars are boring.

I mean, I have a car.

I need the car.

Not every day.

my bike

For most of my commuting, I have the lovely bike you see in the photo. It is proudly sporting the new 2015 membership sticker of WWF, my favourite charity helping keep some species from falling over the bring of the Sixth Extinction that climate change among other things (caused by cars among other things) is causing.

It’s a nice car. A Honda Civic.

But one of the things that galls me about Top Gear is the way they take the piss out of small cars with more fuel-efficient engines…

My daughter laughed the other day when she saw a Smart Car. “Look at the little car, Daddy. It’s funny.” she said. But she’s three. She knows nothing of energy conservation and traffic congestion. Grown men should know better.

Of course, grown men should also know not to be racist. Whether they are on the television before millions worldwide or not.

But getting back to cars being boring…

What most car enthusiasts don’t seem to understand is that cars are not cool.

Not even fast ones.

Only to other car geeks.

Yes, car enthusiasts are just another kind of geek.

And I can tell you, I know about geeks.

I write poetry, for god’s sake.

I have always loved reading and writing.

I used to keep budgies (that’s parakeets to you yanks.)

I used to show said birds in competitions.

Train spotting is no different to car spotting, really. The guys who think rockets are cool, and spacecraft, and astronomy, and comics, and science fiction movies, are more or less of the same ilk as those who bore me talking about how fast a car goes, how many cylinders it has, what the difference between horsepower and torque is…

I’d rather watch a gardening show. That’s my kind of geek.

 

Nevertheless, there are millions of car geeks. Who watch this programme.

So here’s why this is important news….

Over the last few weeks a lot of people said it would not happen.

But it fucking did…

And that’s important because the reason those people would have bet money on Clarkson getting away with it yet again is because the franchise was worth so much. Too much money involved. Can’t afford to lose the cash cow that is Top Gear and its syndication throughout the globe.

But the BBC, or whoever it is there who’s important enough to make these decisions decided that the money wasn’t as important as the moral right. Clarkson might make the BBC a load of dough, but sometimes money can’t justify things that we know are wrong – even though we see examples everyday.

So… if we can potentially lose money by doing the right thing in this instance, why not do the right thing in other instances?

The US could make lots of money from the Keystone Pipeline. But they don’t need it so bad they want to deal with the potential disaster of a leak, or the global climate change it will help intensify.

Fracking is a big source of revenue for states and towns, and the big powerful fossil fuel companies that do it, but having water we can drink without dying is more important.

Exxon Mobil and other such companies make billions in profits and hand over some of that to the politicians that grease the wheels. But reducing climate change is going to affect negatively millions more people than the few fat cats who will use their money to buy up real estate in Greenland while we all boil (or freeze in Europe, when the gulf stream stops).

 

There is no good reason we can’t do the right thing in these cases.

In some cases they already are. Because people clamoured for it.

We just need to keep clamouring.

Jeremy Clarkson and Dumping Animal Carcasses: we just don’t do that shit anymore.

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So Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson was in the news the other week – in hot water, again –  for being Politically Incorrect. Being a wanker, is the term he’d understand. Being more than normally so, that is. We all know he likes to poke fun at Mexicans for being lazy. He apparently used the N word when saying the old rhyme to choose between two things.

This is Clarkson’s apology:

“Please be assured I did everything in my power to not use that word. And as I’m sitting here begging your forgiveness for the fact that obviously my efforts weren’t quite good enough.”

He actually said that.

What a wanker. If he knew enough to not say the word aloud, he knew enough to not actually say it at all, and to replace it with anything else. “Tiger” is the word I heard in Boston when I lived there. If he said it, he meant to say it. End of fucking story.

Reading another article about his apology, I saw Clarkson had plenty of fans and others supporting him. I was a little concerned at one quote saying he got away with such indiscretions because he was too powerful to get rid of – it reminded me of a certain ex DJ who was very popular and had the BBC fixed just the way he liked it: too scared to stop him doing his despicable things.

I was temped to comment on that, but I have decided that commenting on newspaper articles is like trying to have a rational discussion in the middle of a Jerry Springer show (or a Spanish chat show, on occasion): it’s fucking pointless, because nobody else is there for a rational discussion, just a shouting match.

Anyway, back to Clarkson. Aside from whether he is or isn’t a racist, and the notion that all such Englishmen who believe in the superiority of their former Empire being intrinsically racist, he thought he could get away with it, as a joke. While Jeremy might really believe it was only a joke and not meant to offend, I’d love to see him say the same thing where I used to work in the South End of Boston, or in the South Bronx of NY, or South Central LA. Anywhere outside the South Bank of the Thames.

And as for those people who claim we always said such things, well, yea, I remember saying it before I ever understood what the N word meant. But it ever entered my head to say it in company once I was an adult – even in the company of people of Jeremy’s generation and attitude.

What Jeremy and his ilk need to understand is that you can’t do or say certain things nowadays, despite the fact that you or me or everyone always used to. We just don’t do that shit any more.

As a kid I used to call people a faggot or a fairy with impunity. I didn’t know any better, but nobody would catch me saying it now – even those, like Jeremy, who might laugh as if it was funny. Fat people were an easy target to poke fun at, but that’s just not funny anymore.

It’s not so much setting an example, as adhering to a set of guidelines that I believe should apply to everyone, in a society I would like to see. Like not littering, even though I know I could get away with it; teaching my child not to litter, and having to explain to her that there are indeed people in the world who throw their cigarette butts on the ground, and having no answer to her question: “What we going to do?”

“We’re going to wait till such dickheads grow a brain, love,” is, unfortunately, the only answer.

Even dickheads like Jeremy Clarkson can grow a brain, I believe.

The world has changed; in many ways for the worst (and Jeremy no doubt has many opinions about this as he pisses around the countryside in fast cars – full discloser: I sometimes drive, and I sometimes enjoy it; I watched a few episodes of Top Gear and I did enjoy it, especially the actors doing laps. But do I give a fuck about the difference between a Lamborghini, a Maserati and a Ferrari? No. Do I care what size the engine is? No. Would I prefer to be able to either cycle or travel by jet pack? Yes.)

In many ways, though, society – even our shitty parasitic Western one – has changed for the better. We’re a lot more civilised in some respects, and humane.

Perhaps being civilised creates some minor inconveniences. Since smoking was banned in bars, we all like not smelling of smoke after a night out. Do I like having to go outside on the street to have a conversation with my smoking buddies? No. Do I disprove of my mates who throw their butts on the ground? Very much so. (And your time is ending, littering cigarette smokers, very fucking soon. Before my 3-year-old is allowed to read this blog, you won’t be flicking your butts with impunity – just like the shit-leaving dog walkers’ time ended [and I was one of them back in the day, we all were]). There are more rules to living in a globalized world with going on 8 billion people. Get used to it. More rules are coming.

Which brings me to farmers. The dumping of carcasses a few weeks back at the bottom of a scenic cliff in Ireland is a symptom of someone who doesn’t really care about animals, who views them as objects. While I am a hunter and have no problem killing animals, I am not callous about how they die, and I don’t condone the dumping of useful animal carcases. (It is a pity that there are few birds of prey that could have availed of the meat. Perhaps when the kind of farmers who say that his or her forbearers always shot and poisoned raptors just like they still do to foxes, have ceased to do such things, there will be.)

Perhaps the owner could not afford to feed the cattle and horses. It’s better to kill the horse if you can’t feed it than let it starve. Of course, a little bit of swallowing pride might let you spend your last dime on a fucking phone call to the ISPCA (shout out to all the good men and women there!). But even if you are going to kill it, a quick death, rather than pushing it off a cliff would be more humane. The removal of ear tags suggests that the animal was dead before going off the cliff, but the presence of a live horse on the top and absence of machinery tracks pushing the carcass off the cliff (nobody has the strength to do it by hand) shows the animals were probably alive, so the ears were cut off while they were alive. A horse trusts its owner, knows him or her, and damn well knows it’s about to be pushed to its certain death. It’s less humane than borrowing your neighbour’s shotgun, or bolt gun. (What farmer can’t afford a blot gun?)

The farmer who did this obviously sees nothing wrong with what he did. Like the people who still drown puppies and kittens rather than get their dogs and cats spayed (cheap in Ireland if you’re a pensioner).

But we just don’t fucking do that shit anymore.

We don’t allow people leave children unattended in their car, or anywhere else. Not even for two seconds while they run into a shop for a pint of milk. You can’t have your kids babysat by anyone under sixteen. We don’t have kids in cars without child seats and booster chairs, don’t drive ourselves without seatbelts, and certainly don’t drink and drive anymore. We don’t leave our dogs in the car in the sun, or chain them up in our garden. We don’t shoot them when they’re too old to be useful. You don’t leave sheep ignored for months on the hill, or have horses unshod because it’s expensive to shoe them.

Sure, there are some folks who still do all these things, including let their kids bounce around the back of the car (which some of us reminisce about, having 8 kids in the car: two in the front seat, one in the back window). There are people who ignore their dogs’ shit, who still dock their dogs’ tails and who get their ears pinned. In Spain there are yet many hunters who shoot their dogs at the end of the season rather than spend the money feeding them till next year – and fuck me blue but do those cunts (sorry Maia, a very bad word, but it was the only apt label) make me mad for giving other hunters a bad name.

The point is that though a few idiots linger in their insistence that they should be allowed to do what they’ve always done, nowadays the rest of us disdain those people.

The rest of society has shifted around such people. Just like it’s shifted around Clarkson and he’d better move soon, too, or his popularity will shift. Because if he doesn’t, then before my 3-year-old can read this blog, even if she were let, it will be politically uncorrect to like the clown (read wanker).