I thought I’d managed to sidestep the Martyrdom Of St Jezza. I know nothing about cars – well- I know they have seats and four wheels and something called an engine that makes them go. I cannot drive – yes- there are a few of us dinosaurs left. I had a driving lesson once, in an empty carpark. The moment I touched the accelerator we ran into a brick wall. I put it into reverse and tried again. We shot backwards into the opposite wall.In moments I had turned a perfectly nice Mini into something which looked like a large, crumpled suitcase.
So I am no petrol head, though I’ve seen a couple of ” Top Gears.” That was enough. What caught my attention first was the hierarchy.Big Jezza is boss. The other two- the one who looks like a small rodent and the one who looks like a walking mop, fawn upon The Master, feeding taglines for him to top, giggling with delight when they are made the butt of his razor wit. They are the straight men to his Comic Genius.They are the weedy kids sucking up to the big bully.
And then there’s the language. There may be people who believe that the whole show is made up on the spot, that this is all witty spontaneous knockabout fun.I have one word for you – teleprompter. Oh – it’s technically very clever and delivered with flair and (over rehearsed) panache, but the whole thing reeks of over-writing and hours spent hammering the keyboard.
Now, I may not know anything about cars, but I know a lot about language and style, and I can de-construct a sentence faster than Jezza could strip down a gearbox.
Let us consider some of The Big Man’s gems.
“There is something really funny about the sight of an angry young woman being hosed into the gutter by a tank.”
The keyword here is “funny.” It’s a nice, soft word unlike ” amusing” which is a bit prim. So you’re set up for something cuddly- and you get a neat little cameo of police brutality. It’s initially shocking, and then…a bit sniggery. The Master is appealing to your dark side.It’s a bit of schadenfreude for the masses.
Let’s try another one:
“Speed never killed anyone- suddenly becoming stationary – that’s what gets you”
I must admit this is quite clever- the reversal of expectations, the playing with words.It’s the sort of thing Oscar Wilde would come up with on a bad day. In fact that would be a good description of Clarkson’s writing style.He’s Oscar Wilde in lead boots.
Here’s one last example:
” There’s no such thing as cheap and cheerful. It’s cheap and nasty, and expensive and cheerful.”
It doesn’t actually mean anything. He’s playing with words here. Perhaps worth half a snigger.
Clarkson is surface all the way through, with a polish of malice on top. There. I’m feeling better now. Except that I’m not.
When the sad news broke ( A Nation Mourns) James May ( the one who looks like a mop) said ” It’s a tragedy.”
No James. It isn’t a tragedy.It’s the just punishment of a loud mouthed, overpaid lout.
150 people killed in a plane crash. Now that is a tragedy.