Motoring Television

Jeremy Clarkson Runs Out of Gas

Fracas (n). The act of punching an innocent victim in the mouth.

I blame Paddington Bear, without whom Jeremy Clarkson would never have been sent to Repton, a minor public school dedicated to gentrifying the obnoxious sons of travelling salesmen such as Eddie Clarkson, and his wife, Shirley.  Their tea-cosy business was never going to make them rich and if it hadn’t been for the unexpected commercial success of their stuffed toy, young Clarkson would have ended up in one of the local Doncaster schools, rubbing shoulders with the proletariat and growing bitter for what might have been.

What a tragedy for the world and for him personally.   He’d never have learned to hide the Yorkshire accent he was so ashamed of.  He’d never have acquired the studied fake self-disparagement that earned him the love of an entire nation.  He’d never have acquired the violent swagger that a school bully learns by soundly thrashing the youngest and smallest new arrivals.

jeremy clarkson

Whatever else you can say about the English public-school system, there’s one undeniable fact.

It has unfailingly churned out generations of utter prats, all running on the same antiquated software, complete with hard-coded pre-digested jokes about Frenchmen, Belgians, Krauts, black fellas and foreigners in general, a sort of verbal secret handshake in the Masonic Order of the Prat.

You recite a pre-programmed stereotype.  Frenchman, striped t-shirt, bicycle, string of onions.

I say yuk yuk.

Now we know who we are.  I wonder what he yuks about with David Cameron.

Jeremy Clarkson is, of course a typical if rather minor product of this system, and but for Paddington Bear, he’d never have learned that endearing trait of living in the past, where the past consists of a series of wars you learned about from reading the Victor.  Where it’s possible to film Top Gear in Argentina with a car numberplate that evoked the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas war.  Yuk yuk, yukked the three middlle-aged public schoolboys.  Take that, Johnny Foreigner.

The public school is a truly character-forming system that has, for centuries, produced sociopaths who rampaged across the world, at the head of various private armies, like the East India Company.  This is also the system that produced so many appalling clods in government.

And this is the same system that produced an utter prat like Jeremy Clarkson who reverted to form when he found himself back on his native Yorkshire soil, once again becoming the school bully he undoubtedly was in his young days.

What exactly did producer Oisín Tymon do to provoke Clarkson’s ire?  Simple.  He made sure that Clarkson and his fellow presenters had something to eat when they arrived back at the hotel after the kitchens had closed and the chef had gone home.  He stayed up late to make sure they were all right after their impromptu piss-up in a local pub, and their arduous helicopter trip back to their hotel.

Well, you can see why Clarkson was so annoyed, can’t you?  What’s a 54-year-old Head Boy to do when some First Former  has the absolute cheek to tell him the hired help have gone home?

No steak and chips?  What?  Why didn’t you have them horse-whipped?  I’ll have you sacked.  You’ll never work in the BBC again.  Don’t you realise who I am?  Here, have a punch in the face and be grateful for it.

Well, one of them would never work in the BBC again, but this time Jeremy got the names mixed up.

What a prick.

Goodbye, you overbearing, pre-programmed bore.




Law Motoring

Scrapyards. What’s Not to Like?

Somebody backed into the old motor and made shite of all the plastic trim surrounding the reg plate.

Very annoying.  Very, very irritating.

Even more irritating when I went for the NCT and they failed me due to what?  Sharp edges, that’s what.

Sharp fucking edges.  Nothing else was wrong with the car.  Nothing at all.   Nothing.  It was perfect apart from a little bit of cracked plastic.

Why the fuck is that  a failure in the NCT?  Am I likely to be driving along at 75 mph  when some hapless pedestrian gets sucked into my slipstream and hacked to pieces by the jagged edges of the broken plastic around the registration plate?

It wasn’t the only sharp-edged thing they failed me for though.  The rear indicator was also cracked where some fool with a supermarket trolley banged against it.  That’s a fail too.

What next – ugliness?

Sorry Sir, but your car is revolting,  Somebody might get sick if they see it.  Fail.

Is this the Nanny State or what?  My car is dangerous because it has a little bit of broken plastic on the boot lid.  What?

Anyway, this being Ireland, the tester explained how to get around the problem.  Just put a bit of tape over the sharp bits and bring it back.

But it will still be broken.

True, but it won’t be sharp any more.

Jesus Christ!

I stuck some duct tape on the broken bits and sure enough, it passed the re-test, which was good for me, though annoying, since I couldn’t see why it failed in the first place.  But at least, as a visual, I didn’t have to give them any more money.

Now, I don’t know what you’re like, but it annoys the shit out of me to pay good money to thieving main dealers for grossly-overpriced parts.  I’ve always been like that and I probably always will be.  It annoys me.  It annoys me especially when that part happens to be a piece of plastic that contributes not a tittle to the car’s safety or performance, and so I left it for a while, but eventually it started getting on my nerves.  I didn’t like that silver duct-tape stuck all over the boot of the car, and so I finally dropped in to that well-run scrapyard, operated by those well-spoken, polite, helpful Polish lads.

I don’t miss the days when you had to explain yourself to a fat smelly lout who might or might not speak any English — and he’d be a local guy.Thankfully, all the scrapyards these days are operated by well-educated Central European people who understand exactly what you want and can communicate in good English, for a change.

I approach the counter.

Have you got this, that and the other?

I will check.  One moment, please.  Yes, we have.  Do you want it?

I do.

Please wait.

And within ten minutes, a polite, well-spoken Polish lad appears with precisely the part I require.

How much?

Twenty euros.

It took me half an hour to remove the old part and fit the new one.  Suddenly, the motor doesn’t look like battered any more and I didn’t have to pay a main dealer hundreds of ill-deserved notes for an over-priced replacement.


Jesus, I love scrapyards, although it’s a pity that times have changed so much.  In the old days you could wander in there yourself and randomly tear useful bits off cars as they teetered three-high, swaying gently in the wind.  These days, for some reason, you have to wait at a counter when you’d be more than happy to have a go yourself with a socket set, but no.


Why else?  It’s the Nanny State, isn’t it?  The State that isn’t happy to let people skin their knuckles in scrapyards but is quite prepared to let disabled people languish untended in their own homes to save money on home helps.  Ah, but that’s for another day.



Motoring Matters

Sadly, my beloved Bockmobile finally reached the end of its useful life a little while back, so I bought an old car, just to keep me going while I decided what to do about more permanent transport.  I mustn’t have been thinking straight when I bought it, because it matched none of my requirements, and I hated it from the start.  Most of all, I kept kicking myself for buying a petrol motor after driving diesels for years.  Why would anyone do that?


Doing the NCT

Your ball-joints are bollixed, he said.

Excuse me?

Your ball-joints need to be replaced.  They’re worn out.

Tell me about it.

Look, he said.  Here.  The wheels are wobbly because the ball-joints are worn.  You’ll have to get them fixed before we can give you a certificate.

That’s not too bad, I said.  Anything else?

Not too bad?  He seemed disappointed.  That could be expensive to fix.

Not really, I said.  Anything else?

Yes.  Your headlights are out of alignment.

Ok.  I’ll get that sorted.  It’s not such a bad result.

The tester folded his arms and narrowed his eyes as he raised himself up to his full height.  One final thing.

Christ.  Here it comes.  What?

Your passenger door.


It’s sticking.  A little. Bit.


Sticking.  Passenger door.  Yes.

He seemed deflated at the sight of my obvious relief, as well he might be.  I thought I heard a little click from the half-shafts when turning, which could work out a bit dear.

Down the corridor, masochists watched through the wired glass as  mechanics poked and prodded at their vehicles, but I’ve never been able  to do that.  It’s a personal thing.  I always thought the testers were laughing at my car when they called each other over to examine something:

Have a look at this.   Did you ever see such shite?

Death trap.

In some cases they could have been right, and this is the reason I wasn’t too dismayed with the test report.  Twice in my life, I’ve been at the wheel of a car when a front wheel broke off.  On one of those occasions, I had just slowed down from 70mph when the car fell flat on its face and gouged a thirty-foot groove into the road.  Don’t tell me ball-joints.   I know ball-joints.

One annoying little quibble.  When I was a lad, you could go and buy the new ball-joints, knock out the old ones with a pair of lump-hammers and bolt in the replacements, all in the space of about an hour.  Now, you have to go out and buy entire aluminium one-piece castings — a nuisance, a waste and needlessly expensive.

Still, it was worth the price just to see the tester’s face as he handed me the certificate.

That’s fine now, he said.

Thanks very much.

You’re, eh, welcome, he forced himself to smile but I could tell he had murder in his heart.