Clarkson's Sunday Times Columns

It's daft to expect kids to work for a living. I'm encouraging mine to take up burglary instead (May 9)

It has been suggested that while everyone was hiding under the bed in a tropical haze of sweat and fear, 700,000 people packed their bags and left London for good. This figure may be wrong, though. According to my sources in the property business, it could be 800,000.

Obviously, the frizzy-haired and the mad who research this kind of thing will explain that it's all been caused by rich people abandoning their houses in the capital and moving full-time to their weekend cottages in the home counties. But that's obviously nonsense. Sure, some people with suits and a direct line to the front desk at Scott's restaurant in Mayfair realised in the hibernation that they could manipulate stock markets just as easily from the middle of a field in Gloucestershire, but the number is not that great. It certainly isn't 700,000.

No, the vast majority of those who've left were not well off at all. And they have not just gone from London. They've gone from Britain, driven out under the cloak of Covid but actually by Brexit, back to all those places you couldn't place with any degree of certainty on a map. And this is going to be one hell of a problem for the capital's pubs and restaurants when they finally fully reopen. Because who's going to man the pumps?

British kids? Hmmm. This suggestion causes employers who were raised under the guiding hand of Norman Tebbit to roll their eyes and smack their foreheads in exasperation. "British kids are hilarious," they say. "They turn up on the first day and lean on stuff, looking sullen, and then, on the second, they text at about 11am to say they had too much ketamine the night before and feel unwell."

We've all heard the stories. One young person I know simply couldn't believe it when he arrived home after an eight-hour shift to be told by his mother that he had to do it all again the next day.

Another teenager, after a month of work, was horrified to find that a quarter of what he'd earned had been taken away in tax to pay for the army and street lighting. But not half as horrified as he was the next month.

"Mum," he sobbed, clutching his payslip in disbelief, "they've done it again."

British kids, then, have a bad rap.

They're seen as weak, spoilt, lazy, entitled and completely incapable of doing what you and I would call work. Getting up. Putting on a tie. Being told what to do. And then going home with not much pay. And it's true. They don't want to do that. Which is why so many of them have decided to become burglars.

I'm not surprised. In burglary you're your own boss, you work whatever hours you like, you pay no tax and there is almost no chance that you will ever be caught. We read in The Times last week that in nearly one million burglaries that have taken place since 2015, police failed to identify a suspect.

Yes, in 18 per cent of cases a suspect was identified, but that was usually because he was on the premises when the constabulary arrived, drooling and puking into his swag bag. Anyone with even the smallest amount of self-restraint and intelligence gets away with it, which is why, in 82 per cent of cases, the perps were never identified. In London, where there are a lot of cycle lanes to police, it's nearly 90 per cent.

Richard Littlejohn, writing in the Daily Mail last week, told us how the private security company that monitors the gated community where he lives found a burglar inside his house while he was on holiday and called the police, who took 2½ hours to turn up. By which time the enterprising young kid who had broken in was long gone.

The government is doing some very hopeless things to try to stop this sort of thing happening. In Nottinghamshire, for instance, residents who have been burgled once already are being offered solar-powered security cameras in the hope that the criminals can be captured on film next time. But then what?

Not that long ago I found a CCTV picture of a bright-looking young man coming out of my London flat carrying my television set. It was as though he'd been photographed on an expensive Nikon in a studio, so I had it published in The Sun. And did Plod catch him? No, they did not. I guess they were too busy investigating Leon Brittan and various equally dead DJs.

So let's picture all this, shall we, from a kid's point of view. You worked hard at school and you're about to emerge from a miserable locked-down spell at university with a 2:1. What are your choices? Well, you could go and work in a restaurant for minimum wage and some blisters. Or you could kick someone's door down this evening and trouser a load of tom.

You won't even have to worry about the owner of the property coming at you, partly because you'll be younger and fitter than they are, but mostly because, in London, no one's there any more. Even when they are. In Knightsbridge, for example, I learnt the other day that 80 per cent of flats are unoccupied 80 per cent of the time.

Guns? No one's got one. Knives? Sure, everyone's got one of those in the kitchen drawer, but if you say please and thank you, no one's going to stick it into the side of your head.

I used to say to my boy that he should think about a career in plumbing. I figured that, with his accent and manners, he'd clean up, even if his customers had to do much the same thing after one of his visits. But now I'm thinking that he should consider a career in burglary instead.

The only problem is that when he knocks off for the night and decides to stop off at a greasy spoon café for a celebratory bacon sandwich on his way home, he'll be in a queue of other burglars and there will be no one on hand to serve them.


And here's the Sun column: "No malaria, sun cream or funny tummy… you can’t beat Britain’s beauty". This part will be of interest to Grand Tour fans:

I’ve just spent ten days filming the next Grand Tour Special. Which wasn’t special, or a Grand Tour, as we shot it entirely in England and Wales. But oooh, it’ll look good.

I began by driving from my house in Oxfordshire to a town I’d never heard of, and can’t pronounce, in the middle of Wales.

And there wasn’t one view on the entire three-hour journey that wasn’t jaw-droppingly spectacular. Or sack-shrivellingly beautiful.

Over the next three days, we whizzed around in Wales, and there’s no getting round the fact that in the spring, on a sunny day, some of their scenery is very nearly as good as the stuff you get in Yorkshire. (I’m bound to say that obviously.)

Then there was another pretty drive to Leamington Spa, which sounds like it’ll just be a provincial hell-hole full of vomit-speckled pavements and Subways. But it was a Regency gem, as awe-inspiring as Florence. Only without the boring art you feel duty-bound to go and look at.

After a night in a cracking hotel just outside Rugby, we toddled off to Kent, which I always thought was full of nothing but mobile homes and bewildered Syrians.

Again, I was wrong. It rolled and bristled and was bursting with pubs I wanted to stop at.

Then, we drove along the south coast to the spectacular Seven Sisters cliffs before turning right and heading for Suffolk with its weird and timeless villages and yet more pubs that tugged hard on my steering wheel.

In ten days, we did not see a cloud. But despite this, no one needed to waste an hour every morning plunging their heads into a bucket of sun cream.

No one caught malaria. And we didn’t have to wait around every morning for Richard Hammond to get over the funny tummy he gets every time we go past Calais. Everyone drove on the correct side of the road as well.

I’m not going to say it was all smooth sailing. On the way home, some out-of-practice herbert had crashed on the M25 and I had to divert through the back streets of Harlow, which was a bit rubbish.

The kids didn't have a field day on my land: We should all know where foodstuffs come from, but my young visitors left none the wiser
(May 16)

My rape's gone wrong. It's tufty and sporadic and the insipid hue of powdered custard. Some say this is because it's all been eaten by pigeons. Others blame the ban on insecticides or the phenomenally cold spring we've just had. But these scenarios seem unlikely as, just half a mile away, my neighbouring farmer's crop is vibrant and rich and the lustrous colour of a JCB.

I gaze upon his fields and it's like being at a party with the parents of particularly high-achieving children. You know, your boy is working in JD Sports, selling tracksuits to morons, so you really don't want to hear that "Rupert's on the International Space Station and Alex has just got cold fusion to work".

Frankly, I blame myself because in one field the failed areas are in worryingly neat rectangles, suggesting that I pushed the wrong button when I was operating the seed drill. In another, called Bake's Piece — all fields have stupid names — half the acreage is sort of alive and then, south of a dead straight line, it sort of isn't. And pigeons don't eat in straight lines.

In James May Is a Dildo — I may have named that field myself — there's about ten acres of volunteer rape that is growing all by itself. And it's doing a whole lot better than the stuff that I've nurtured carefully these past few months.

The only good news is that rape prices are way up this year.

Because of the Europe-wide ban on neonicotinoid pesticides — sprays that kill bees — many farmers haven't bothered planting it. So demand will exceed supply. I may only grow an ounce but it could well fetch more than a handful of diamonds.

This is a worry because if locally grown oil-seed rape is expensive, vegetable oil will cost more. Which means consumers will be more inclined to buy palm oil instead. That would be bad.

In the not too distant past Sir Attenborough made a show about some orangutans that live in Sumatra. There was one heart-stopping scene where they had to teach their youngsters how to swing over a river that was full of crocodiles, and I couldn't help thinking: "Why are they doing that? Why don't they stay on their side of the river until the toddlers are less likely to fall into the water?"

Then we got a drone shot that brought the problem into sharp focus. The jungle extended only a few hundred yards from the riverbanks, and after that it was gone, replaced by an endless and completely orangutan-unfriendly forest of palm trees. It was a man-made farm, built so that thick and thin "eco-conscious" people in the West can have fresh, sweet-smelling faces.

These people do not like the vegetable oil that comes from my rape. They even say it makes them sneeze. They'd rather kill an orangutan for a bit of imported palm oil. And there's a very good reason. They don't know anything about where anything comes from. They sit, over an avocado breakfast, telling their friends they want locally produced, carbon neutral food, but it's simply not true. They just want it to be cheap.

This is why I'm such a fan of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme. Because it takes kids who would otherwise spend their weekends in suburban bus shelters into the countryside where, hopefully, they learn about where the bread in their Subway comes from.

Earlier this month I found a gang of them sitting in my garden.

Some were attempting to light a stove, some were moaning about the mobile phone signal, and one was heading for my hedge with some bog roll. Naturally I said, "Can I help?", which is farmer-speak for "get off my land".

It turned out they were on a Dof E course and had been told by their teacher, who was doubtless a jumped-up little socialist who believes that property is theft, that they should have their lunch in the garden of the biggest house they could find. It also turned out that the girl with the bog roll needed "to go toilet".

"Well, you can't defecate in my hedge," I said. "You're not an animal. So let's go to the farm where you can use the loo."

At this point some kind of supervisor arrived to say that while it was OK for him to spend his free time, in the woods, with a load of prepubescent girls, it was emphatically not OK for me to take one of them to the lavatory.

She would have to be accompanied by a "buddy", who may or may not have also been a girl. But before I'd had a chance to think of what pronoun to use, there was the Covid problem of how best I could drive them to the farm when we had to be six feet apart and in hazmat suits. And while that was being sorted out, the poor girl who needed to go toilet was turning maroon.

I then took a call from my tractor driver to say that the supervisor's Peugeot was blocking the track so I asked him to move it. Whereupon he summoned his "I know my rights" adenoids to say that it was a public footpath, and I had to retort in my special menacing tone, explaining that you can't drive on a footpath, or picnic on it, and that you sure as hell can't defecate on it.

With toilet girl now looking like a U-boat's boiler, I received word that another group of cisgenderists had descended on a field called Quarry — because it doesn't have a quarry in it. The field that does have a quarry in it is called Banks.

So I threw Covid caution to the wind, dumped the human pressure cooker outside the farm bog and raced down the track, past all the other abandoned Peugeots to see what was what.

The scene was alarming. Because in a strip I've just planted with an extremely expensive turtle dove mix, it looked like some kind of juvenile scat movie was in full swing. They were kids, I know that, and they were out of their comfort zone. But they were also pushing used lavatory paper into the watering pipes for my new trees. So I was calm but firm when I asked where their supervisor was.

It turned out he was in the village and that's the problem so far as I can tell. Because while it's great that these kids are out in the fresh air, learning how to get around using nothing but abandoned teacher Peugeots as marker points, it doesn't really help them understand the land if there's no one around to tell them stuff.

I desperately wanted to explain my thinkings on palm oil and the need to buy vegetable oil instead, but I don't think these Kardashian and Snapchat enthusiasts would have quite got it. Besides, at some point I'd have had to use the word "rape", which would have meant me writing this in a cell.

As a result they're now back at school and what have they learnt? That the mobile phone coverage in the countryside is dismal, that it's cold and that everyone who lives there is fat and angry.


Chipping Norton has turned red. You would too if you had to live next door to people like me (May 16)

Because everyone was so engrossed last week in Hartlepool and the crumbling "red wall", no one noticed an interesting electoral fact from further south: Labour had taken the Cotswold town of Chipping Norton from the Tories. Yup. My home town has gone communist.

While everyone was writing about the death of the Labour Party and how in future it will only ever be allowed into Downing Street to sweep it, the ECG flickered, and suddenly there was a sign that the obituaries might have been a bit premature. Sir Starmer didn't want to go on the cart. He wanted to go for a walk.

I know that for most people a socialist victory in what's been called David Cameron's back yard does look a bit odd. Because the very mention of Chipping Norton conjures up a vision of honey-coloured stone and wisteria and people arriving in country pubs in their Volvos. The only thing that's red round these parts is the men's trousers. That, however, is far from the truth. Most of us have Range Rovers. I have two.

And I'm the problem. Because if you peer behind the headlines and nonsensical stories about the so-called media power-brokers who live here, Chipping Norton is a town in a state of some distress.

When I moved here 25 years ago, there was a small department store, a brilliant hardware shop, a little supermarket for when you needed Branston pickle, and Parker Knoll, which made armchairs that were even easier to get in and out of than a Shackletons wing-back. You know.

And now? Well, there are five supermarkets and bugger all else. Almost all the banks have gone. The football club has gone. The police station has gone. The hi-fi shop has gone. The hospital has gone. Half the pubs have gone. And if you want to stay the night, you could use what was Keith Moon's hotel. But most people use the new Premier Inn.

Meanwhile, in the outskirts of town, all of the fields are now filled with identi-homes that appear to have been pushed out of a plane as it flew overhead. And they're all full of people who get up, go to work somewhere else and then shop at bloody Aldi.

So far, then, it's pretty much the same story as you'll hear in any town anywhere else in the country. Let's call it the Milton Keynesification of the way we live.

What makes Chipping Norton different, though, is that in the outlying villages all the drinking pubs for the boys who used to stop off on the way home from the farm each night for a swift eight pints are serving boned quail at forty quid a pop. I'm not moaning about that. I like boned quail.

But in the town itself people are moaning. In the olden days they used to hear about people gorging themselves on peach and peacock and being married to women who did not have warts on their faces, but they never actually came face to face with these people. Whereas now, in Chipping Norton, most people who live in the town are knocked over by a Range Rover about six times a day.

I went into the town centre a couple of months ago, when I was suffering momentarily from middle-class guilt, to hand out food parcels, and it was amazing, as if I'd stepped into a recruitment poster for the crystal meth industry. I met maybe 20 people who, between them, had 20 teeth.

Chipping Norton had had a Labour council for as long as anyone can remember. It's only recently that it became Tory, and now it isn't any more. And I can see why, because the people who live in it are now having to live right alongside people like me, and that would bring out an "eat the rich" streak in even the Duke of Kent.

That's why I read all those Labour Party obituaries last weekend with a pale face and an expression of disbelief. Because it's not dead. It's sleeping. And it'll be back unless someone, somewhere, can work out a way of narrowing the divides. Rich-poor. Men-women. And most of all, north-south.

At the moment the BBC has some half-arsed plans to employ people in, I dunno, Middlesbrough, to do the bidding of the power-brokers in Hoxton, and that won't work. It'd be much better to get people in Middlesbrough to make programmes they want to watch. I'd love to see the faces of the BBC execs when they were transmitted. It'd be nearly as much fun as watching the faces of their presenters when Sir Starmer got his arse kicked last week.

The fact is that in recent years rich people moved into Chipping Norton in great numbers and this has annoyed the locals, who responded by voting Labour again. It was much the same story with Brexit, when northerners, who were fed up with seeing their towns taken over by people from other countries, consequently voted to leave the EU.

I will therefore end this morning's column with a plea. If you are wealthy and you are thinking of moving to the Cotswolds, that's fine. But go to Burford or Stow-on-the-Wold instead. Chipping Norton is full.

And I'm referring in particular to the two oafs who came to my local last weekend. You may have had the tweed coats and matching hats, but the way you let your irritating children run round and the way you treated the staff and the way you looked and the way you spoke and the volume you used is why Chipping Norton voted Labour.

You wouldn't walk naked through a mosque with a pint in one hand and a joint in the other, so when you come to the Cotswolds, here's a tip: button it. Or in a few years' time watch the Labour Party roar back to life with an agenda not seen since Vladimir Lenin decided he'd had enough of the tsar.

And don't worry: I do practise what I preach. One of my Range Rovers is now 15 years old.


And here's the Sun column: "Peace between Israel and Palestine? Give Hamas Iron Dome too, then get teenager to shout at both sides"
Today's lily-livered cops can't nick crooks, let alone crack skulls. Quick, dial the 1970s (May 23)

It was yet another dreadful week for the constabulary. Mainly, this was because an on-duty policeman woman was captured on film fist-bumping the sky and generally letting anti-Israel protesters in London know that she was very much on their side.

We've become used to this sort of thing at the Notting Hill carnival, where officers are urged to dispense with Dixon's teachings from Dock Green and twerk the night away with revellers before settling down with a can of chilled Red Stripe and a nice spliff.

But it's one thing to try to get on with a crowd of generally good-natured marijuana enthusiasts, and quite another to prance about at a political protest, in a full policeman suit, letting everyone know that you go to bed every night with a blow-up Yasser Arafat doll.

Meanwhile, in Lincolnshire, a former policeman support community officer — or traffic warden, as we used to call them — was facing jail because she'd been making improvised explosive devices out of shotgun cartridges. According to her bosses, her behaviour was "completely incompatible with what we stand for in Lincolnshire". Really? So IEDs are all right in Humberside but not across the estuary?

On the very same day we read about another PCSO who had been sacked for gross misconduct after hitting the bottle and being convicted of a public order offence. And now she's claiming that she'd been made to work with a constable who, she reckons, liked to chase colleagues around the woods with his penis hanging out. Which, she says, damaged her mental health.

This is the police we are talking about here. The guardians of law and order. And don't think things will improve any time soon, because just hours after we heard about penis-man, a senior officer in Northamptonshire went public with the news that new recruits didn't realise they had to work nights and weekends.

It gets worse. I watched a video on TikTok recently of two policemen women who'd apprehended a youth in London. And while they were talking to him, he scarpered. One of the officers did nothing at all, while the other deployed a style of running that Larry Grayson would call a bit effeminate, and set off in pursuit.

Even if she hadn't been weighed down by a belt-ful of tools, she wouldn't have had a chance of catching him.

There was a time when police officers needed some kind of rudimentary fitness, but now half of them look like Frank Cannon.

Of course, I'm well aware that the police are still very good at solving some crimes. If you drive at 24mph in London, they'll have you in a heartbeat, and round where I live, they raided every single lockdown party before the guests had even started their soup.

They're also excellent at catching dead disc jockeys and politicians who they think might have been up to no good in 1972. But other stuff? No. That doesn't seem to interest them. They tell us that budget cuts are the problem, but it seems to me that the main issue is how the thin blue line is now completely entangled with entitled millennials, socialism, mental health issues and penis enthusiasts.

I bet you any money that instead of getting fired, the policeman woman who supported the Palestinian cause in London last week will receive a "hey mate" email from Commissioner Dick that will have been fully spellchecked by the new Google Docs "woke" filter, which changes words such as manhole to personhole and deletes passive-aggressive expressions. It will also have been signed off with a thumbs-up emoji in a neutral skin tone. But despite these things, the policeman officer will instantly resign and then sue the Met for using the wrong pronoun.

What the police need to remember is that they exist not to keep a few thousand lefties happy on social media but to make millions of normal people feel safe. And we don't care whether they call themselves a force or a service. We don't care about semantics at all.

And, if we're honest, most of us don't care about stabbings either. The victim's mother may go on the news to say he was a happy-go-lucky boy who wanted to be a doctor when he grew up, but many of us sort of suspect that he was a machete-wielding drug-dealer who got into a late-night fight, in a kebab shop, with a rival gang. So we are not that bothered about seeing his killers being brought to justice. Not really.

What we do care about is catching burglars. We want to think, when our telly's been nicked, that Morse will lob some fingerprint powder into his bag and fire up the gunship. Obviously, Plod must maintain an elite division to deal with exotic crimes such as terrorism and murder, but the rank and file? They should be sitting in their squad cars, like Second World War fighter pilots, with their Tasers charged, waiting for the order to scramble.

And I don't want to see footage of the crim being given a silver blanket and helped into the squad car so he doesn't bang his head. I actually want him to bang his head, so often and so hard that for years afterwards he'll be able to use the extremities of his ruined nose as ear plugs.

Let's not forget that when we dial 999, it's because there's an emergency. And we need to think that the police will respond as firemen do — immediately, and with vigour — rather than waiting two days and then asking us to pop into the station for a pamphlet on "victim support" and a crime number for the insurer.

If this is impossible, then maybe the time has come for individual streets and villages to employ their own privatised police force, which has no time for social media niceties and will, if necessary, go fully Jack Regan on the local tea leaves.

I may start such a thing in Chipping Norton. We could call it the Sweeney.


And here's the Sun column: "It’s so cold my nipples are like knobs on a WW2 radio transmitter"
Don't froth over the Fourth Plinth follies: they'll soon join your phone pics in the skip of history (May 30)

Yippee. It's time once again for the great and the good to pull on their silly jackets and their mad bow ties and decide what piece of ridiculous art should be erected on the spare Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. One of the leading contenders is said to be a recreation of an abandoned grain silo built by east European architects in Ghana in the 1960s. And why would we want such a thing in the middle of Britain's capital? No idea, I'm afraid.

So what about Bumpman? This wartylooking chap, sitting on a log, was inspired, says the artist, by 16th-century Wundergestalten pamphlets, which recorded medical anomalies, and he may be a spirit from German folklore.

Again, I have no clue what this has to do with Britain. Except that I wish another German tradition — bombing London — could be reinstated briefly to rid us of it.

There isn't a single option that makes any sense. One, for example, features an umbrella stand and a nan bread. But this, it seems, is the whole point of the scheme. To make people like me froth at the mouth and wonder out loud why we can't have a permanent statue of Isambard Kingdom Brunel up there. Or maybe Frank Whittle. He didn't have any slaves, his jet engine made all our lives better and he was only 5 feet tall, so the sculpture wouldn't need much bronze.

At the very least, could there not be one shortlisted entry that isn't from the Corbyn Kumbaya playlist? Margaret Thatcher, perhaps, with a handbag made out of General Galtieri's scrotal sack. Or Hitler in a Morris Marina. Why does it always have to be so earnest?

The problem is that people like me think art is permanent. The stuff we know about — the Mona Lisa and Turner's train and Constable's hay wain — hangs in galleries, and as we sit there, in reverential silence, pretending to be impressed by the brushwork, we have a sense that it will continue to hang there for ever.

The thing is, though, that most art is not permanent at all. It's reckoned, for example, that more photographs will be taken in the world today than were taken in the first hundred years of photography. We all snap away at clouds and rainbows and dogs, creating what we consider to be artistic, and then one day we lose our phone and it's all gone.

I have pictures of my mum and dad in an album, and in a frame on the linen chest. Whereas I think I'm right in saying that the only pictures my children have of me were left on a Tube train after a big night out. Or they fell into a nightclub lavatory. Eventually, cloud or no cloud, every photograph taken on an iPhone will be lost. For ever.

It's the same story with paintings. Think about all that "art" you see hanging on the walls of tearooms in Devon or the stuff that blots the railings on London's Bayswater Road every Sunday morning. It'll all end up one day with the fridge-door finger paintings your kids did when they were four. In the skip.

I recall pictures that hung on the walls of my parents' house and I have no idea where they are now. Maybe one will emerge in 50 years on Antiques Roadshow, so the producers have the chance to tell some hopeful in a bad jumper that their prized possession is worthless, but I guess the rest somehow ended up being used to light fires.

Of course, we have it in our minds that we always preserve great architecture such as the Parthenon and the great cathedrals and the leaning tower of Pisa. But we don't, or there'd still be a lighthouse in Alexandria, a temple of Artemis at Ephesus, a city called Troy and a crystal palace in south London.

When the Normans built a castle, they built it to last. We know that. Except we don't, because of the 500 they erected, only 90 remain. The rest have vanished.

So what about the art that has stood over the past 20-odd years on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square? The pregnant woman with no limbs? The big blue cock? The ship in a bottle? Well, most of it is now sitting in Gola League museums around the world, being ignored by parties of schoolchildren, and soon it will be moved into underground storage facilities, where it will become a breeding ground for mildew.

Great art, fantastic art, brilliant art, such as the Athena tennis girl — that will survive. But well over 99 per cent of what the world's artists are creating now will be nothing more than a smudge on the internet by 2050. Unless there's been some kind of nuclear EMP war by then, in which case it won't even be that.

This is why we really shouldn't bother getting our knickers in a twist over the Fourth Plinth debate. Sure, one of the entries is a Mesoamerican skull rack featuring the faces of 850 transsexual prostitutes, which is very annoying, and I don't wish to meet its creator, ever. But in the big scheme of things it doesn't matter. Because one day, whether it wins the slot or not, it'll not even be a toenail in the footnote of history.

In fact, you can even use the shortlist of artists as a way to cheer yourself up, because it gives us an insight into what's happening in the leftie, vegan heads of the politically correct. We think they are dangerous and influential, but when they are asked to create their best work, what they come up with is a warty man, some nan bread, a grain silo and a load of ladyboys. Which suggests to me that "woke" is just a modern word for "mad".

Don't froth, then, about the Fourth Plinth and the idiocy that will go up there next. Take your children to London and encourage them to laugh at it. Because it has all the permanence of an ice cream on a summer's day.


And here's the Sun column: "If vegetarians want to produce killer farts, fine…I don’t"
My cunning plan to save the countryside: He's come unstuck herding sheep with a drone and crashing tractors, but it's the red tape that's killing Jeremy Clarkson's attempts to make his farm profitable. Without a revolution, British agriculture is doomed, he tells Nick Rufford

By Nick Rufford (Sunday Times, May 30)

During the centuries in which sheep have occupied the countryside, man has rounded them up by traditional methods. The farmer enters the field with his dog and the sheep run to a distant corner. The farmer whistles and the dog herds the sheep to where they're needed. It's always been done like this and sheep have every right to expect it always will be. So when Jeremy Clarkson arrived in their field with a remote-control drone that made barking noises, who could blame them for scattering in all directions?

Flying the drone low, Clarkson chased them across the field towards the farm gate. For a while the experiment seemed to be working and he imagined being able to sit indoors, out of the cold and wet, rounding up sheep in the way that operators of Predator drones patrol the skies of Afghanistan from Nevada. Quickly the animals realised that, unlike a sheepdog, the drone had no teeth. Once they got used to the noise of the rotors they resumed munching without so much as a skywards glance. "They were completely unfazed," says Clarkson. "They just ignored it."

No amount of dive-bombing or electronic yapping from the airborne sheepdog would make them deviate from the time-honoured rules of engagement between man and sheep. "They just looked at me with gum-chewing insolence as if to say, 'Why is that idiot flying that drone?' "

It was one among many experiments Clarkson has tried in an effort to turn a loss-making farm into a going concern. If it sounds harebrained, he points out the drones are an eighth of the price of a trained sheepdog, which is why New Zealand sheep farmers use them. Perhaps his North Country mules were smarter than their antipodean cousins.

For more than three years he has worked the land in Oxfordshire, trying to balance the books on a farm he renamed Diddly Squat because "that's how much money it makes". As chronicled in his regular "Farmer Clarkson" columns for The Sunday Times, he has ploughed, sown and harvested in what he concedes is not richly fertile soil. He has reared livestock and gathered eggs from free-range hens. He has planted cover to attract game birds and created ponds to breed fish. He has built a farm shop and a bottling plant for spring water.

Things haven't gone to plan. Some of his crops died from fungal disease and insect infestations. He was told his farm shop breached planning and Covid regulations. His bottling plant became contaminated. When pubs closed during lockdown, brewers stopped buying his barley. Hundreds of trout he hoped to sell to restaurants were eaten from his newly dug lake "by otters or cormorants or herons — or all three". He was chased by bees. When he tried to clear woodland, his chainsaws jammed in the tree trunks ("At a rough guess I'd say that 20 per cent of the trees in my woods have chainsaws stuck in them").

He bought a new tractor — a Lamborghini — and managed to drive it "into six gates, a hedge, a telegraph pole, another tractor and a shipping container. I think I'm right in saying I have not completed a single job without at least one crash." All of that while being squeezed by rising costs and weak food prices. To illustrate the problems, on the day I visited a fox got into his henhouse and killed his 36 prize egg-layers.

The sheep have caused the most trouble, through their "sheer belligerence, or should that be shear?" He began with 75, including two rams — Wayne Rooney and Leonardo DiCaprio. Rooney died last year but the flock now has 130 lambs. He compares them to delinquent teenagers who can't walk past a fire extinguisher without setting it off. They broke through an electric fence into a neighbour's field. He replaced it with wire mesh and they got tangled in that.

When he tried last year to shear the mothers, they put up such a fight "it was like trying to turn Jean-Claude Van Damme upside down to cut off his mullet". He had to bring in professional shearers, who charged him £1.45 for each sheep. The wool sold for only 30p per fleece. "That's why the farm is called Diddly Squat," he sighs.

When we sit down in the late spring sunshine outside his barn he's wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt — "the only clean one I could find". Ideally he'd like a T-shirt that says "A bad day on the farm is better than a good day at the office". Even with all the problems, he doesn't regret moving here from London. "I love it for the stolen moments. Summer evenings on a tractor. Leaning on a fence looking at the lambs. In the first lockdown I'd open a chilled bottle of rosé before bed and sit listening to the wood pigeons. God, they were wonderful days."

He has divided the land under cultivation between traditional staples — wheat, barley and oilseed rape. The biggest area — about 200 acres out of 1,000 — is given over to wild meadows that run through the middle of fields. The strips attract friendly insects — and agricultural subsidies. "From the air my farm looks like corduroy. It's got these stripes, which are very pretty come the summer because they're bursting with wild flowers." He has done his best for conservation. "I planted turtle dove mix around the place because turtle doves are on the verge of extinction. There's a rare hen harrier in one of my owl boxes. And I've got a great grey shrike. It may not sound much in global terms but all I can do is look after the postage stamp I've got here."

When botanists visited they discovered the wild patches in his fields were "chockfull of kidney vetch, green-winged orchids, yellow rattle and various other things that sound as if they've escaped from a Victorian book of diseases". He has created a wetland area for wildfowl and marsh plants (he may also release a few alligators to deal with unwanted ramblers, he jests).

Following government advice to farmers to diversify and rely less on handouts, he built a farm shop. He proudly shows me the fridge loaded with local cheeses and the shelves groaning under the weight of apple juice, honey, piccalillis and preserves with names like Winter Morning Ginger Marmalade. All the produce is either his own or from neighbouring farms. He sends wheat to a miller and uses the flour to bake and sell bread. There's a self-service milk machine and branded merchandise, including hats and aprons embroidered with Diddly Squat. He has just restocked after a bumper weekend in which he "sold out of everything".

"That's the thing about selling seasonal products on a small scale — it's inconvenient for the customer. I make a new batch of honey and it sells in two hours. Once I've picked the rhubarb there's no chance of a top-up. I was left with loads of chard because people didn't know what it was, so I called it spinach and it flew off the shelves."

The shop illustrates the plight of modern farmers, squeezed between officialdom and the might of supermarkets, he says. He will have to close it for two months to replace the steel roof with a slate one as a result of a council decree he describes as "pettiness on an industrial scale". "That's OK, though. It makes perfect sense to shut down the business and lay off the people we employ."

After complaints from "a handful of unhappy locals" stopped him selling teas and coffees, he started a visitors' book to prove that most customers are from far afield and are not being lured away from local shops. Far from stealing business, he's creating jobs, he says. He has hired contractors to dig ditches, repair farm buildings and rebuild walls. "We put 20 new hives in last year to make honey. Viktor the Ukrainian bee man is brilliant."

He has lost count of the times his projects have ground to a halt because of someone with a clipboard. "When a pick-up truck comes up the drive, it's somebody arriving to do a manly job of work, chop down a tree, put in a water pipe. When it's a Vauxhall, it's someone from the government to tell you to stop doing whatever it is you're doing. I'm sure other industries are governed, but nothing like farming. In 2019 we had the wettest autumn ever. The ground gets chewed up by tractors. Because of that I was told that I was in breach of some soil compaction rules and I'd lose 10 per cent of the grants. It won't stop raining and I have to drive my tractors. How am I supposed to do it in a way that I don't damage the soil? It's not possible."

Has it put him off farming? On the contrary, it made him want to shine a light on a world that gets scant attention from Westminster or the urban-centric media.

As you drive south from Chipping Norton and climb to higher ground, the horizon opens up to reveal far-reaching views of the Cotswolds and the Chilterns beyond. Clarkson's spread nestles beneath enormous skies. In the early days he shuttled between the farm and a penthouse flat in Kensington. Then one day he flew back to Heathrow from a holiday in Africa, drove out of the airport and had to decide whether to turn left to the Cotswolds or right to London. He turned left and didn't look back. Something in him had crossed over. Now he devotes the time he might once have spent reading car magazines to Farmers Weekly and Farmers Guardian.

London friends predicted the buzz of city life would soon draw him back. Some of those people have joined the Covid exodus themselves. It's easy to see why he fell in love with life among the yellow limestone villages and the rolling, sheep-cropped hills. Even before the abbreviation WFH was coined he was working from home. "All I have to do each day is pull on a pair of jeans and step out of the door of my cottage."

More recently the work has come to him. Amazon commissioned an eight-part series called Clarkson's Farm. The idea was to lay bare the reality of life on the land, as distinct from the bucolic ideal portrayed in some other rural programmes. "All these shows are designed to do the same thing: to show commuter people in towns and cities that life in the rural uplands of Britain is rosier and more sunlit." The truth is that, though rewarding, the daily, muddy grind is often repetitive and bleak. He's embarrassed that his efforts have at times been so shambolic. "I've done other shows where we've messed up for comedic effect. But this time I've really tried."

He vowed at the start of filming he would avoid the kind of sentimentality typified by Kate Humble bottle-feeding a lamb in Springwatch, but he ended up bonding with the animals. He nurses a sick lamb and learns how to be a midwife to pregnant ewes ("the whole process is incredibly sweet and incredibly revolting simultaneously"). At one point a gruff farmhand advises him to cull three sickly ewes — "they're not pets" — and he seems genuinely upset. The camera follows him as he drives the sheep to the stockyards on their last journey. "I don't know what to say about this mission this morning," he says. "I'm a sheep farmer and this is what sheep farmers do." He comes away with tears in his eyes. "This is a powerful advertisement for vegetarianism," he says later, though he's not persuaded and declares his own mutton "delicious" after sampling it.
When his land agent points out his flock is losing money in feed and vet's bills he still can't bring himself to get rid of them. "I love having them around," he says. "The lambs turned the farm into a springtime picture postcard of what Britain can and perhaps should look like."

It's possible, he admits, that he's in love with a vanishing notion of farming — and may himself be an endangered species. Brexit spelt an end to the acreage-based European subsidies that have enabled farms like his to survive. In future, the government will pay farmers to be custodians of the countryside rather than to produce food. Old-timers too set in their ways to embrace the government's green vision will be given money to retire from the land. The upshot could be a rural Britain that resembles a giant theme park, he warns. "They did that in the 1930s and look what happened — we damn nearly starved to death. Covid has shown exactly how fragile the world is. If you want to do something for the planet, eat what's in season and eat what has grown just down the road. That is how you solve it, not by opening the countryside up to ramblers and then buying food from abroad."

Farmers are governed by rules invented to please environmental lobbyists "who live in Hoxton", he fumes. His pet hate is exotic produce flown in to satisfy modern tastes. "If you're trying to go for a zero-carbon country, why fly avocados in from Peru?"

Much of what's imported can already be grown here, he argues. "Why sit on perfectly serviceable land and bring food in from New Zealand?" To prove a point he has recently planted durum wheat, a type grown in the south of France. It thrives in the drier conditions that Britain is now experiencing. "If that's what we are going to have in the UK in the future, that's what we will have to grow."

If all this sounds like Clarkson the climate convert, there are still flashes of the petrolhead of old. Farming has allowed him to indulge his love of machines — like the barking drone. He spends hours browsing the power tools in StowAg, his local farm equipment shop. He can't believe he's managed to get through the past six decades without ever before owning a telehandler, a vehicle that takes the heavy lifting out of farmwork. He has a collection of off-road vehicles that could be straight out of Thunderbirds. He uses a mechanical mole to lay his own water pipes and plans to get a flamethrower to deal with weeds.

The countryside creed of make-do-and-mend appeals to his Yorkshire parsimony. He keeps his ageing Range Rover running "with spit and baler twine" and recently replaced both turbochargers when they blew. For jobs around the farm he wears a patched tweed coat "with 20 12-bore cartridges in each pocket" and a pair of old wellies.

For all this, he still feels like an imposter next to native countryfolk, even after three years. "I'll be walking through a wheat field with my land agent and he'll suddenly notice a speck a millimetre across of [wheat leaf ] rust on one shoot. I know what rust on a Lancia looks like but this is entirely different — and destructive if you don't catch it early."

He still can't attach implements to his tractor despite hours of practice. "I know what a cultivator is, and a drill and roller, and I can reverse the tractor and get it lined up. But there are hundreds of buttons in the tractor — hundreds — not counting the laptop that operates whatever is on the back. I sit there and the buttons just swim on the dashboard. Kaleb, my tractor driver, wouldn't know how to park in London but his fingers dance around those buttons like he's Rick Wakeman."

Some locals may, understandably perhaps, look upon landowners like Clarkson, 61, as hobby farmers. He counters that celebrities are good for agriculture. "I've argued in the past — and some of me still thinks it's a good idea — that the land should be handed over to very wealthy people. Look at James Dyson. He's doing an incredibly good job at maintaining the land. He's only able to do that because he's magnificently rich. And look at pop stars. Steve Winwood is an unbelievably good guardian of the countryside. Sting, Roger Daltrey, Nick Mason … they've all got vast chunks of land and they can afford to look after it. If they were relying entirely for their income on farming they would have to chop down every copse to make it profitable."

On the hillside near his cottage he's building a celebrity-sized house that may be the last one he ever lives in. It's made from Cotswold stone hung on a steel frame, a construction method that allows rooms to be bigger. It sounds high-tech but inside it's a throwback to the days before digital appliances. He's installing an Aga and a coal-fired range. "I managed to find one from an old Yorkshire mining house." He's repurposing his loss-making wool as loft insulation.

With what could be a subtle dig at the prime minister, he points out that he doesn't have an interior designer. "If you get someone else in, it's not your house. What I want is a bare shell. Then Lisa [Hogan, his partner] and I, all being well, are going to go and trawl around markets in Marrakesh and Istanbul and go to the reclamation yards in Somerset and Devon and start to turn it into a home. I'm so looking forward to the day when it's built and I can go to Peter Jones in Sloane Square and get cracking on buying knives and forks and napkins and corn-on-the-cob forks."

While the work is being completed he's in a farm cottage with a trailer in his farmyard for visitors. Will he ever return to the city? He's glad to be out of the rat race and to have distanced himself from carping news bulletins. "Listening to politicians is like listening to [Line of Duty's] AC-12 half the time. Their delivery is all the same and they use acronyms so you don't know what they're talking about. It's just platitudes."

The best thing the government could do for farmers, he says, is close down the section of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that deals with agriculture. "British farmers by and large are extremely good at farming and very [environmentally] conscious. They don't want to burn unnecessary diesel because it costs money. So I'd frankly shut down the agriculture department, let farmers get on with it and tell supermarkets they can only sell what's in season and what was grown locally. Then you've pretty much at a stroke solved everything. Everyone would be healthier, the soil will be healthier, the planet will be healthier and we'd save a fortune [in civil servants]. We can take turns to go and run it on a Wednesday."

Does he miss anything from his prefarming days? He would have loved to have shown the farm to Adrian Gill, a friend and fellow Sunday Times columnist, he says eventually. Gill died five years ago from cancer, aged 62. "He was always ahead of the curve. I'd love to know what he thought about Covid and lockdown."

He's silent for a moment, then his phone buzzes with a message marked "Urgent". It's the organisers of a forthcoming junket to promote the Amazon show. They want his sign-off for the catering arrangements. He looks at the message with a pained expression. " 'The individual lunchboxes will be Covid-compliant and eco-friendly with bamboo cutlery,' " he reads aloud. He shakes his fist at the phone. "This is what I mean about people from Hoxton. I don't want quinoa or hummus or avocados. The show is about ordinary farming. I want pork pies, Scotch eggs and beef sandwiches, with proper cutlery. Served from the back of a bloody Range Rover."

Clarkson's Farm launches on June 11 on Amazon Prime Video.
Spare me Keir's tears. I'm happy to report that bottling it all up has never done me any harm (June 6)

I once said something or did something or went somewhere that caused a group of young people to become so angry that they came to my house and threw horse manure over the garden wall. I was unbothered by this, chiefly because it landed on my flower beds. Later, when I was receiving an honorary doctorate from Oxford Brookes University, a young lady registered her disapproval of something I'd done by throwing a trifle into my face. And again I didn't mind because a) it was delicious, and b) I subscribe to the Chumbawamba school of thinking: I get knocked down but I get up again.

It seems, however, that I am unusual. Other journalists are now so upset by the abuse they get, both online and in real life, that the government has employed a team of meeting enthusiasts and policemen officers to draw up an action plan. Doubtless, there will be much counselling.

I loathe counselling. It's just so American. You pay a lump of money to a man or a woman or a they, and they sit there while you tell them all about yourself. And then, by talking about your problems, you come to understand that your mother was to blame for everything, and this somehow helps you cope when the next ecomentalist comes round to fertilise your face with trifle.

If I thought I'd had a problem with my mother, I'd be able to work that out in my head while doing the washing-up or driving down the motorway. I cannot see why talking about it, out loud, in front of someone else, would make any kind of difference at all.

And I certainly can't see why you would want to explore your innermost feelings on television, in front of an audience of millions. But that's exactly what Sir Starmer did last week when he decided to appear on a programme called Piers Morgan's Life Stories. It should have been called "Wearing my Hartlepool on my Sleeve".

Whatever. Sir Starmer sat there, with teary eyes, telling us about his distant dad and his dead dog and how he'd never really talked about family relationships before. And I'll be honest, a little bit of sick came into my mouth. Because the truth is that a lot of us have dead parents and it's unmanly and un-British to sit there blubbing about them. As my dad used to say: "A bore is a person who, when asked how he is, tells you."

Harry Markle is another offender. This man is an army officer, so he should know better than to make a programme in which he waxes lyrical about the awfulness of his upbringing. The Me You Can't See is what it's called. Though "The Me You Don't Want to See" is nearer the mark.

There seems to be a trend towards not being able to cope with anything. It stems from social media, I guess, because here, in this ridiculous world of make-believe, you block people you don't like with the press of a single button. Which means you can create a bubble where everyone agrees with everything you say.

Lovely. Except, occasionally, you have to put down your phone and go into the real world, where there are racists and homophobes and billionaires and Tories and drunk people on buses. And you can't just rub them out. You have to breathe their air and listen to them talk, and you have to be able to deal with that. It's not a mental health issue in the making. It's called being an adult.

I was completely unstaggered to hear last week that a tennis player had pulled out of the French Open, saying that doing press conferences made her depressed. But then I was very staggered to see that all the foetuses on social media immediately leapt to her defence, saying that of course she shouldn't have to do something she doesn't want to do. Yes, but you see, she does. We all do.

How long will it be before I can refuse to write this column every week because not sitting in the sunshine is causing me stress? Or we can't send our children to bed at night in case they can't cope?

Only this week we read about a mafia boss who blew up a magistrate and killed 150 people including a 12-year-old boy, whom he dissolved in acid. And he's being let out of jail early. Why? It wouldn't surprise me if they said it was because staying there would make him mentally ill.

Half the time when people say they have mental health issues, they mean they are feeling "unhappy". And what's wrong with that? If we are never unhappy, we will never know what happiness feels like, which means life would become one long beige enterprise, like being trapped in Theresa May's underwear drawer.

I've been unhappy in my life and I've either sorted it out by myself, which is what it means to have a stiff upper lip, or I've quietly talked to a friend. Certainly, at no point have I thought, "I know. I'll call Piers Morgan and sit there, under the studio lights, while he tries to make me cry."

My real beef with this issue, though, is that when all these spoilt brats are running around saying they have mental health issues, we won't be listening properly the next time someone who really does have a problem asks for help.

We need to tune our collective radar to listen out for the plaintive cry from the next Robin Williams. Which won't be possible if the screen is full of echoes from a million mosquitoes flapping around in a state of unhappiness because someone just said something horrid on Instagram.


Like spending £40,000 on a weekend in Filey
The Clarkson Review: Kia Stinger (June 6)

My diary is as heavy as a sodden bath towel. It's like everyone in my entire address book has suddenly decided to host a party, and I'm not talking about the sort of party where you sit down with a few friends and a bottle of wine. I'm talking about the sort of monster where you arrive at eight and then it's Tuesday.

There's more good news too. I read this morning that, so far this year, 220 new superyachts have been commissioned, and round where I live new country houses are springing up out of the ground like mushrooms after a shower. At this rate, if they put the Caribbean on the "green list" of travel destinations, then British Airways will have to reattach all the engines it removed last year from its fleet of 747s just to get us all there.

We are heading not for the new normal, but a whole new kind of crazy. Because the next few syphilitic, liver-carbonising months will make the Roaring Twenties and the Swinging Sixties look like a bridge evening in Totnes.

And that, hopefully, will be that for the mealy-mouthed efforts to make us all green and vegan and gender neutral.

Sure, it's easy to imagine, when you are staring out of your kitchen window, that you want to spend the rest of your life listening to the birdsong and eating kale. But you don't. What you actually want is to go to the Greek islands to get hammered and wasted and laid.

I only hope that shortly after the nation realises this and does an abrupt volte-face, Boris Johnson does one too and halts his ludicrous plan to ban from sale all cars that run on petrol and diesel engines by 2030.

I'm not saying you shouldn't be allowed to drive electric. If you are not interested in cars, or you live in Brighton, which is full of mad people and run by lunatics, then of course you should be allowed to potter about in a Nissan Leaf or some kind of wheeled microwave oven. But the idea that I have to drive an electric car is idiotic. It would be like telling a horse enthusiast back at the beginning of the 20th century that they must shoot their nag in the head and get a Lanchester 38 or a Vauxhall Prince Henry.

As I said only a few weeks ago, the looming ban on proper cars is starting to have an effect now. Because if you're running a motor manufacturer, why would you invest any cash in a technology that's breathing its last?

We can certainly see this with the Kia Stinger GT S. They've just introduced a revised version and, thanks to meddlesome emissions regulations, it actually produces four horsepowers less than the older version.

That's always in the back of your mind as you go along, that the engine was tuned by Greta Thunberg, but mercifully you can't really tell because it's still fast and surprisingly enjoyable.

I realise at this point that you don't care. To have got this far into a motoring column you obviously like cars, which means you don't want to spend more than £40,000 on a Kia. If you want to blow that kind of cash on a fast, rear-wheel drive sporting saloon, you'd rather have an Audi Sportback or a BMW 4 series. I get that. I would too.

Especially as the Kia is quite thirsty and produces more emissions than a harbour full of cruise liners. So it won't be cheap to run.

As a driving machine, though, and a place to sit, I've got to confess I liked it a lot. I especially liked the way it played an operatic tune every time I opened the door. It felt like I was walking into a chat show, or coming down the stairs at an awards ceremony.

This kind of thing amuses me. I'm currently toying with the idea of having huge speakers in the gateposts at my new house that play Ode to Joy, loud, every time the gates open. This would make me feel good every time I got home and, as an added bonus, it would annoy my Brexity pals whenever they popped over for a drink.

The Stinger, however, makes other electronic noises that are less pleasant. It was especially vociferous every time I crawled into the footwell to find and hold down the button that turns off the lane departure feature. Because if there's one thing I can't abide, it's cars telling me which side of the road to drive on.

But anyway, despite the thirst, and the emissions, and the steering wheel, which has a mind of its own, and the bonging, and the slightly awkward rear styling that I haven't mentioned yet, and the fact it's a £40,000 Kia, which is like spending £40,000 on a weekend in Filey, it is — as I may have mentioned — a good car.

The gearbox isn't terribly speedy. When you try to shift manually, it can be a bit dim-witted — like it has to remind itself what its job is every time you pull the lever — and it is a surprisingly heavy car, which makes the problem worse. But these are only minor things.

There are other, more important things, like the cabin, which is well equipped and nicely finished. I'm not sure about having the abbreviation for "killed in action" in the centre of the steering wheel — it's a bit unnerving — but as a place to be it's as good as a Lexus.

It's properly comfortable as well. And I don't mean it's comfortable "for a fast rear-drive sports saloon". I mean it's comfortable, full stop. Maybe because it's so heavy it simply irons out bumps in the road before they have a chance to make themselves felt.

This is unlikely, however, because the Stinger wouldn't be quite so fast if it was as fat as the figures suggest. There's a meatiness to the way it sets of f when you prod the throttle, a sense that the turbos and the big V6 are working in tandem to generate a huge hidden force. It's like being caught in a rip tide.

Only you can control it. There's no point fiddling around with the driver modes — they make almost no difference — just leave it in Sport and have a laugh. Feel the way a nicely balanced, front-engined, rear-drive car can be. Revel in what makes a car a car. Enjoy the tingles and the fizzes and the way a gearchange alters even the sound. And know that no one is going to judge you because, hey, it's just a Kia. And how untall poppy is that?

Most of all, though, know this. Kia will sell only a few hundred Stingers in Britain. We actually like being tall poppies here. But they will sell plenty in less socially aware countries in less "developed" parts of the world such as Africa and America and southeast Asia.

This car will introduce thousands of Li Weis and Mbotos and Wilburs to the idea of what a car can be. Which means the car as an entity may well survive Europe's woke-led war with it. For that alone we should salute it.

The Clarksometer Kia Stinger 3.3 T-GDi V6 GT S
Height: 1,400mm / Width: 1,870mm / Length: 4,830mm
Fuel / CO2 28mpg / 229g/km
Engine: 3342cc, 6 cylinders, turbo, petrol
Weight: 1,855kg
Power: 361bhp @ 6,000rpm
Price: £43,330
Torque 376 Ib ft @ 1,300rpm
Release date: On sale now
Acceleration: 0-62mph: 4.7sec
Top speed: 167mph
Jeremy's rating: ★★★☆☆

Head to head: Kia Stinger 3.3 T-GDi V6 GT S v BMW 440i Gran Coupé
Price: £43,330 / £49,440
0-62mph: 4.7sec / 5.1sec
Power: 361bhp / 321bhp
Top speed: 167mph /155mph


And here's the Sun column: "I was punched in the head by rowdy Man City fans during boozy trip to see Chelsea win Champions League"
Cows on the rampage? Better get used to it: I've decided I need new fences to keep my animals safe. Thanks to a Canadian beetle, a Wuhan bat and all you DIYERs, that's impossible (June 13)

Last month I watched some alarming video footage of a policeman near Reading deliberately ramming a cow with his pick-up truck. The poor thing had escaped from its field and was wandering around on a road, in some distress. Apparently it had knocked a shopper over and there were fears it could eat someone's lawn. But even so there was no need to kill it. It's not like it was a brontosaurus or a saltwater crocodile. It was just a cow.

So why didn't plod entice it with a bit of hay, or call a vet, who could have pulled something humane and scientific from his bag of Herriot trickery? Ramming it with a two-ton police truck seems so brutal.

We are told that the cow represented a significant danger to motorists but as the road had been closed this seems unlikely. What seems more likely is that whoever decided to implement a new policy of ramming cows is "a bit thick".

Still, the British plod did better than their counterparts in America because back in March, when officers in Virginia were asked to deal with an escaped cow, they reacted by arriving on the scene in a blizzard of noise and flashing lights and tried to shoot it — which resulted in them missing ten square feet of slow-moving cow and hitting one of their colleagues. Then, after he'd been taken to hospital and the cow had been wrangled to the ground by someone who knew what he was doing, they shot it anyway.

It's all too tragic for words but at least there is a silver lining. I've decided, against all my instincts, to install some new fencing.

When I was younger I used to sit watching the most interminable drivel on television because I couldn't be bothered to get out of the chair and change channels. Now, of course, thanks to the remote control I don't have to. As soon as James May says "Hello and welcome to—" I just press the button and, kerpow, he's gone.

Nor when I want to speak with a friend do I need to go to the phone box and stand in a puddle of tramp urine, or wait for the neighbour to get off the "party line" because today it's considered a "human right" to have a smartphone of your own.

Life is easier and faster in every way. We don't have to crank a handle to start the car. We don't have to put up with feeling green around the gills for 90 minutes when we want to cross the Channel. We don't even have to go to the shops when we want something.

However, when we want to build a fence, we are still expected to use the exact same system as those apes we saw at the beginning of Kubrick's space odyssey. You deploy something called a "fence knocker", which is a heavy bit of iron with handles on the side and is far and away the most tiring thing in the world.

Knocking in one post takes about 20 minutes and in a mile of fencing there are 1,320 posts. And on my farm there is maybe 20 miles of fencing. Get that job done and I could beat Tyson Fury at arm wrestling. That's why I use a different system, which is called "paying someone else to do it".

Except now, thanks to global warming, or transgender issues, or some other kind of woke plague, I can't even do that because there's a massive planetwide shortage of timber.

A small beetle, no bigger than a grain of rice, decided recently to eat Canada. It started in British Columbia, stripping the bark off every tree it could find, and now it's halfway across Alberta. God knows how it's still hungry after all of that but it is and soon there will be no trees left.

And it's not just the six-legged Mr Creosote that's causing the problem, because there's also the Wuhan bat. When that caused the world to shut down, some people went home and spent their newly gifted free time making bread. Some learnt French and some broke out the watercolours. But the vast majority reckoned that because they were stuck at home they may as well spruce the place up a bit.

So off they went to the DIY store, where they bought timber for decking, timber for new fencing and timber for an extension. And this wasn't just happening in Britain. It was happening everywhere.

So now there's a huge surge in demand for what the beetle hasn't eaten and, to create the perfect storm, there's also a shortage of sawmills. After the last recession in 2008, a lot of lumber yards suffered a kneejerk reaction to the sub-prime problems and shut up shop. So now, when timber is cut, there are very few places that can turn it into lumber.

And Covid has also caused chaos with shipping. So even if you can find a tree that hasn't been eaten, and you can find a sawmill that's still open, you're going to struggle to find a company that can deliver it. Which is why you might want to look at getting your wood from Europe. Yeah, well, post Brexit, good luck with that.

The upshot is that fence posts now cost more than most space rockets. And to buy one you have to meet a shady chap called Derek round the back of the pub.

Sure, I have planted many trees over the past year or so, but it'll be 30 years before they can be used to separate farm animals from idiotic policemen, which is why I turned my attention to fencing made from iron.

And it's the same story. Because wood now costs more than heroin, everyone has thought the same thing, and as a result every company making metal fences has filled its web pages with words like "Due to unprecedented demand". Which is corporate speak for "oops, we've sold out".

Walls are not the answer either. Yes, there's no shortage of stone. We are standing on it. But there is a shortage of people who can arrange it so that it doesn't fall over. I have a great guy on the farm but he's 72 years old and can barely keep up with the badgers that knock over what he repairs every night. Asking him to build 20 miles of wall would finish him off. And anyway a drystone wall is no real barrier to livestock. Sheep just clamber over it and, given the right motivation, a cow could win the Grand National. Pigs, meanwhile, are so good at escaping, they make Steve McQueen look like a rank amateur.

I'm fearful then that in the coming months we will see a lot more livestock on our roads and that maybe some new legislation maybe necessary. Legislation that reminds officers they may not deliberately run down cows, or dogs, or any animal for that matter. Just burglars.


l eat meat, use petrol and say the wrong thing. My days in gainful employment must be numbered (June 13)

A barrister called Joanna Toch has been suspended from her practice with immediate effect for going on Twitter and suggesting that the Markles should have named their new girl child Doprah, an amalgamation of the names Doria and Oprah.

Nope. I can't see what's wrong with that either. But it turns out that the Sunday Telegraph columnist Julie Burchill has also been axed, for taking part in the conversation with Ms Toch. And now both of them will have to join the dole queue with various cricketists who said several years ago that girls who play video games get more sex than those who don't. And the Bulgarian swimming instructor who had a full-on naked lady fight with her supervisor. Which doesn't sound a sackable offence to me at all.

For some time now I've harboured a worrying sense that soon everyone will be sacked, because all of us are in a minefield and eventually we are bound to tread on something that goes bang. Or we will be hit by shrapnel from something we trod on back when we were teenagers.

I know that the Sunday Times subeditors do their very best every week to delete views that they fear will cast me into a vat of scalding-hot public opinion, but the fact is that sooner or later I'll come here and say something that is deemed by the hysterical court of public opinion to be unacceptable, and that'll be that. I'll be gone.

Remember Rebecca Wrong Daily? The Labour MP once called the actor Maxine Peake "an absolute diamond" and probably thought as she pressed "Send" that she'd done a lovely thing that would brighten someone's day. Nope. It transpired that Ms Peake had once said that taking the knee was an Israeli invention, so Wrong Daily was called to the headmaster's study and sacked.

And don't think you're safe just because you run a shoe shop in out-of-the-limelight Welwyn Garden City. One day you will ask a new salesgirl to make you a cup of coffee, and it'll be curtains. Then you'll lose your house; your wife will leave you; and your children, devastated by the break-up, will end upon the street sniffing glue and vandalising bus shelters.

You don't even have to make the mistake of asking for a cup of coffee. The salesgirl only has to say that you did, and you'll get the same result.

Look at the case of the American actor Armie Hammer. I met him once and he didn't eat me, but it's been decided that many men in the Hammer family have a dark side and that he may be a cannibal, so he's toast. Closer to home, there's the actor Laurence Fox, who famously went into the socialist bear pit that is Question Time and suggested that the hounding of the Duchess of Sussex had nothing to do with race. And now? He'd struggle to get work as the standard-issue useless husband in an ad for washing-up liquid.

Others who have gone from gainful employment in recent years include the newsreader Alastair Stewart, who got a karate chop to the neck for quoting Shakespeare to a Twitter user who turned out to be black; Brian Leach, a till worker at Asda who was let go for sharing a Billy Connolly sketch on his private Facebook page; Baroness Nicholson, who was axed from the Booker prize foundation for calling a transgender enthusiast "weird"; and Maya Forstater, who in 2019 was told by an employment tribunal judge that her views that people cannot change their biological sex are "not worthy of respect in a democratic society" (last week she won an appeal).

You are therefore not safe. And don't think that going halfway makes you immune. Walk into the office tomorrow morning and tell everyone that you've become vegetarian, and I can pretty much guarantee you'll be fired for not going the whole hog — possibly the wrong word — and becoming vegan.

It's like buying a hybrid car. You proudly turn up in it at the Dog and Guardian in Shoreditch and immediately you will be pelted with cabbages and sunflower seeds for not getting something with no engine at all.

You may imagine that because you have a handle on all the current thinking and would never dream of saying or doing something inappropriate, you are on safe ground. But there will have been a time, back in the Seventies probably, when you didn't think to ask someone what pronoun they preferred, and when that oversight surfaces, it'll be P45 time.

Or someone in the office will discover that your great-great-great-grandfather once sold a cat to a man who lived next door to Edward Colston. And then you'll have to be thrown in the harbour as well.

Figures released last week show that on average British people spend more than three and a half hours every day online. Obviously you're mostly watching old Dad's Army clips on YouTube or buying cucumbers from Ocado, which is fine. But if you are spending nearly a quarter of your waking moments on the internet, it's inevitable that occasionally you're going to see something that will get you fired.

It's really scary for people who still eat meat and use petrol and continue to share inappropriate jokes on private WhatsApp groups. Because you're on borrowed time, and soon you'll get a tap on the shoulder from the HR Stasi.

I speak often to my friends about this, and all of them are frightened to death. They know that if they continue to eat and do and say whatever they've eaten and done and said for the past 40 years, they're going to be out of a job. And even if they don't, they'll still be out on their ear for having eaten and said and done it back in 1974.

All we can do, then, in a world where you're guilty until proven innocent, and then you're still guilty, is tiptoe through life trying to get as much hay in the barn as possible so that when we're kicked into touch, it's not completely the end of the world.


And here's the Sun column: "G7, Biden and Boris are ploughing millions into Cornish economy but summit has still gone down badly"
Life's tough for a B-lister with a TV show to plug. Especially when you can't remember what it is (June 20)

Royal Ascot began last week. It's an event where thousands of people who have absolutely no interest in horses get into fancy-dress costumes and take cocaine while a series of races is staged to see who has the fastest pet. And I wasn't there because I was busy doing PR for my latest television show.

Now, when a Hollywood A-lister on a movie publicity tour is forced by the small print in their contract into a chat show studio, they fly over to Britain and sit on a primary-coloured sofa, pretending to be interested in a fellow guest's new single and applauding wildly as a halfwit from The Bill talks about mindfulness. They then tell an amusing anecdote about Meryl Streep, and in exchange the host shows a clip of them running out of an exploding building, and then they fly home.

For those of us further down the pecking order, things are a bit different, because we are the halfwits at the other end of the sofa. We are the ones who walk into the studio, to village-cricket-match applause, and then daren't say anything because we know that Tom Hanks is also there, pretending to know who we are, and the audience would rather hear from him.

After the show is over, we are bundled into the back of a C-class Mercedes with an air-freshener hanging from the rearview mirror and driven jerkily to London, where, the next day, the real work begins.

Every celebrity and television journalist is invited to attend the launch event, and they all turn up because they know the game. I'm expected to say something stupid. They turn it into a shock-horror story. And I go home, feeling like a media whore for exposing myself in return for a small plug.

The PR launch for my farming show was held in the garden of a hotel located just a few hundred metres from the offices of the PR company that had organised it. In the audience were representatives of Her Majesty's press corps and a lady from the Mirror, who opened proceedings with a question about herons. I don't know why either — it didn't seem the sort of thing that would interest Eric the Leftie or any of her three other readers.

Next up was a chap from the Express, who wanted to know how the locals had reacted to the show. I didn't know what locals he was on about. David Cameron? Alex James? So we moved on, past the Sunday Express, and the pretty girl from Express online, who wanted a selfie, until, after about a year of probing and parrying, the PR people sensed that they'd like to go to nearby Soho House for refreshments and ended proceedings.

I, meanwhile, repaired to the bar, where I noticed the lady from the Mirror was hanging around. I figured she might want to resume her line of questioning on herons. But it turned out she was organising a pap who could take pictures of me leaving a restaurant later that night. This having been accomplished, the paper ran a story saying I was leaning on a lamppost. Which I guess was more interesting than the piece in the Mail, which said I had been wearing jeans that I'd teamed with a black shirt and brown shoes.

The next day I had to appear, via Zoom, on 41 upbeat and zany radio shows, one after the other, for hour after hour. It was like being stuck in a ball pit, in a child's endlessly spinning kaleidoscope. I talked to Steve Wright and then his equivalents in Norway, Finland, Ireland, Australia, Denmark, New Zealand and the Netherlands, trying my hardest to remain chatty and amusing, and wondering, every time I embarked on an anecdote, whether I'd done the exact same one for a chap in Texas ten minutes earlier or whether I was repeating myself on the same show.

Then it was on to the social media people, who all have wacky "concepts" that I didn't really understand. "And now please welcome Jeremy Clarkson to our regular Thursday feature, Pink or Brown!!!" Half of them didn't even mention farming, and I began to think seriously about pouring boiling water on my head to ease the pain.

After a short break, the PR company organised yet another event, this time even closer to its offices, which was weird, since the whole thing was being done by Zoom, which I have at the farm.

We began with some Australian Herbert with Keir Starmer hair who made morning-television noises and then started asking me about cars. Next came a four-year-old girl who wanted to know what my favourite car had been in the show, and then there was an excitable Italian who wanted to know if the future for cars was "weak". After this one I gave my PR minder a hands outstretched quizzical look and she explained that we'd now switched and were doing publicity for the next Grand Tour. Which I couldn't remember filming. Or what was in it.

Eventually we arrived at the Radio Times, which is something I always dread because all it ever does is trap me into saying something controversial, and then puts out a press release saying: "Jeremy Clarkson enjoys killing dogs." The journalist didn't waste time, wondering first of all what I thought of Prince Andrew and then whether I thought it was fair that I still had a career in television at the age of 61, when many women did not.

I mumbled something about Anne Robinson and, after the call was over, turned in despair to the PR woman, who explained that the Radio Times was important because it had half a million readers. Which is a seventh of the reach I have on Instagram and one fourteenth of the number that follow me on Twitter.

You may wonder, then, why I don't just use my own social media to promote the TV shows I've made. Simple. If I'd done that, I'd have had no excuse for missing the race meeting at Ascot.


At last, an alternative to the trusty Range Rover
The Clarkson Review: VW Touareg
(June 20)

Cold hard logic. It has no place in our heads when we are choosing a car because there are so many other, more important things to consider. My son, for example, bought a Fiat because the Chelsea manager at the time was Italian and he wanted to show solidarity. I bought a Ford when I was his age because my dad had one. And I met a man yesterday who has an Alfa Romeo because of something a dead Argentinian did in the Fifties.

There's certainly no point using cold hard logic when it comes to buying a large off-road car because that's as illogical as being a socialist or a vegan. You almost certainly don't need one and will be much better off buying an ordinary saloon or estate car because it'll be faster, more economical, kinder to the environment, more comfortable, better able to avoid an accident and nicer to drive.

Of course some people need one. Me, for example. So I buy Range Rovers, and while mine have been pretty reliable, I'm told they usually aren't. So they don't make any sense either. I'd actually be better off with some kind of Japanese pick-up truck. But I don't want a pick-up truck because I don't want anyone to think that I'm an American.

I try all of the new big offroaders, hoping that one day something will come along that makes more sense than a Range Rover. But it never does. With the best will in the world, you're not going to go shooting in a Lamborghini Urethra or a Rolls-Royce Metrocab. And while the Volvo XC90 is a very safe seven-seat school-run option, it always feels a bit lost when it's asked to do a muddy track.

Land Rover Defender? Yes, but it costs about the same as the Range Rover, so what's the point? Bentley Bentayga? It's better looking since its facelift but it's still a bit of a minger, and getting into that interior while wearing muddy wellies would be like going to bed in your army boots.

Mercedes G-Wagen? Everyone will think you import cocaine for a living. Porsche Cayenne? That's like Babolat making an angle grinder. Audi Q8? For the man who's too timid to go for a Urethra. BMW X5? It's like they designed it in a coffee break because the marketing department said they had to. Oh, and the Aston Martin DBX? Nearly forgot that. Like most people do.

So after you've been through all the illogical reasons for not buying an illogical car, it's time to cross your fingers and hope the Range Rover you do buy was made on a Monday morning and not a Friday afternoon.

Seriously, trying to find an alternative is like trying to find a better holiday destination than France. You can prattle on as much as you like about the Greek sunshine and the Spanish bars and the wondrousness of the Croatian interior. But it's always going to be France. You can even drive there very simply. In your Range Rover.

I'd resigned myself to buying another one this year as there was no alternative, but then Volkswagen sent round its latest Touareg, the only car in the world named after a bunch of armed mercenaries. It'd be like having a car called the Shining Path.

Despite this (or maybe because of it) I've always quite liked the Touareg. Many hundreds of years ago it did a version with a 5.0-litre V10 engine that could uproot tree trunks and restart dying planets, and I especially liked that one. But the Touareg has always been in a lower division than the Range Rover, so it's never really been an option. Until now.

The R version I tried is the most powerful Volkswagen yet made. Because we live in absurd times, it's been built with one eye on the environment, which is why it has two engines. One is a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 and the other is a 134-horsepower electric motor. It's obviously ridiculous that an eco car should have so many parts that have to be manufactured and transported from so many factories, but hey, I don't write the rules. Sadiq Khan does and you voted for him.

The 14.3kWh battery, which robs a chunk of boot space, can be charged by the normal petrol engine or you can top it up using power from Drax. And if you do you'll be able to get to the end of the road before it's flat again.

But let's gloss over the idiocy of hybrid drive and concentrate on the fact that you get a bloody great off-roader that is faster than a Golf GTi.

It doesn't shout about it, though. Even when you're approaching the red line and you're fingering the paddle that will nudge you into the next gear, it's just a hum. And this is in keeping with the ride, which is beautifully damped and controlled. It feels, dare I say it, like a saloon. It feels nice.

It's a nice place to sit as well. And not only is the interior well trimmed and elegant but it also feels like you could stage a hammer-throwing competition in there and nothing would fall off.

My only real issue is with the touchscreen. I know these "infotainment media centres" make sense in the accountancy department because they are a lot cheaper to make and install than all the buttons that would be needed without them, but God they're dangerous.And the more features they offer, the more submenus you need, which means you never really have time to look at the road.

A survey by the Institute of Advanced Motorists last year found that a touchscreen can delay a driver's response time by as much as 57 per cent. Which means they're more dangerous than driving while under the influence of marijuana.

The screen, however, is no reason to steer clear of the Touareg, because all of its rivals use them as well. In fact I can see no reason at all to steer clear of this car. Not even all the hybrid bollocks because, when all is said and done, you do end up with 456 horsepowers.

And I haven't got to the best bit yet. Because after tooling around on the road in it for a few days, I used it to take milk and vegetables to my pigs. After the wettest May in human history, the track was a quagmire, but even though the car was on ordinary, low-profile summer tyres, the four-wheel drive system wasn't in the least bit fazed. So behind the glass screen and Khan-friendly power system this is a proper off-road car.

There's more too. It says VW on the badge and, as a result, it has a VW-sized price tag, but underneath it's made mainly of bits from Porsche and Bentley. So you're effectively getting a Cartier watch for a Timex price. Cold hard logic likes that kind of thing. Which means you'll probably buy another Range Rover. Me too, I suspect.

VW Touareg R 3.0-litre V6 TSI eHybrid 4MOTION
Engine: 2995cc, 6 cylinders, turbo, petrol, plus electric motor
Power: 456bhp
Torque: 516 Ib ft @ 1340rpm
Acceleration: 0-62mph: 5.1sec
Top speed: 155mph
Fuel / CO2: 95.2mpg / 67g/km
Weight: 2,465kg
Price: £71,995
Release date: On sale now
Jeremy’s rating: ★★★★☆

Head to head
VW Touareg R 3.0-litre V6 TSI v. Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid
£71,995 Price £71,040
456bhp Power 456bhp
5.1sec 0-62mph 5.0sec
155mph Top speed 157mph

Jeremy also appears in a Sunday Times article where celebrities' are asked to share the records they first fell in love with and their most treasured recent musical discovery. Jeremy's answer:

The first record I ever loved was either Back Street Luv by Curved Air or the first record I bought — I Did What I Did for Maria by Tony Christie.
The last record I ever loved changes on a daily basis: Time by Pink Floyd, Songbird by Fleetwood Mac. Or Behind Blue Eyes by the Who. There has been nothing released this century that I can even hear without vomiting.

And here's the Sun column: "Don’t pine for Ikea. They’ve got a screw loose on GBNews"
An announcement...
I began posting Clarkson's columns here in 2012 and have very much appreciated the feedback. When the board temporarily went down in 2018 I began posting the columns on the Grand Tour subreddit as well. Starting today I will be posting the columns on reddit only. I want to save a little time by skipping double posts, plus this board has grown quiet. Anyway, this week's column is on reddit, and as usual I will post them every Monday afternoon or early evening PST. Thanks to everyone over the years for your comments and likes--I'll still be checking in from time to time, but from now on the columns will be on reddit.
An announcement...
I began posting Clarkson's columns here in 2012 and have very much appreciated the feedback. When the board temporarily went down in 2018 I began posting the columns on the Grand Tour subreddit as well. Starting today I will be posting the columns on reddit only. I want to save a little time by skipping double posts, plus this board has grown quiet. Anyway, this week's column is on reddit, and as usual I will post them every Monday afternoon or early evening PST. Thanks to everyone over the years for your comments and likes--I'll still be checking in from time to time, but from now on the columns will be on reddit.

Totally understand, it’s always nice to read Clarksons stuff but lately I’m kind of getting “old man yells at cloud” type vibe, so for now.
Thank you Revelator for posting Jeremy Clarkson's columns throughout the years! Even though I haven't always commented on here, your contributions on this thread are greatly appreciated; quite a few of his columns provided lots of behind-the-scenes context behind why Top Gear (and later The Grand Tour) selected the cars to review and the places to visit around the world. It is also interesting to see how his views have evolved over the years along with his reporting dispatches about life on his farm (a hilarious show worth checking out on Amazon by the way). I'll continue looking for those columns on reddit! :)
An announcement...
I began posting Clarkson's columns here in 2012 and have very much appreciated the feedback. When the board temporarily went down in 2018 I began posting the columns on the Grand Tour subreddit as well. Starting today I will be posting the columns on reddit only. I want to save a little time by skipping double posts, plus this board has grown quiet. Anyway, this week's column is on reddit, and as usual I will post them every Monday afternoon or early evening PST. Thanks to everyone over the years for your comments and likes--I'll still be checking in from time to time, but from now on the columns will be on reddit.
Thanks, Revelator. Something that my 99 year old grandfather told me is that "the only constant in life is change," I won't be commenting on Reddit, but I still want to thank you for consistently posting them for us for all this time.
I only occasionally read the columns but the posts here are certainly appreciated. I've actually found them more interesting since he had the farm.
Just here to say that I tested positive for COVID on 9th June, isolating in time for the release of Clarkson's Farm. Watching the show greatly helped me get through the period. Mild symptoms, recovered in 10 days, and the many laughs from the show helped I'm sure, so thank you Jeremy! Have been a fan of Clarkson's since his early Top Gear days, and as a regular reader of his columns I really appreciate Revelator posting them. So thank you Revelator for your selfless service. Will catch up on Reddit for sure from now on. Powerrr!
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Thank you Revelator, I have very much enjoy reading Clarkson´s column. I will certanly continue to read them from your Reddit posting.

Thank again.
I like how informative your post is Revelator. I had so much fun reading your opinions about Clarkson Sunday.