Clarkson's Sunday Times Columns

kurthest

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I don't agree with the 'this inspires idiots to hop on an airplane to syria' bit.

I know Jeremy is smarter than believing videogames cause violence, let alone terrorism....
As a general term no. But he does have a point.
Some types of computer games can definitely influence or inspire certain type of individuals to do hideous real life things.
As can some types of television programs or movies.

As an example, there has been several ordinary europeans converting to Islam after watching Islamic propaganda on Youtube or other video sites, and after that became involved in planning and executing acts of terror.
Of course, it takes a certain type of psyche/personality to be influenced to that extent, but nevertheless, those people are out there.
 

Revelator

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More Euro-controversy this week:

At last, a folly to love from the EU do-gooders (June 12)

In 2006 a Baltic mayor with an unpronounceable name helped persuade the EU to reward cities that have shown commitment to the ecological cause by creating the Green Capital Award. Each year the winner would be given a lump of money to further its clean-living endeavours with exciting new projects involving leaves and sunshine and ethnically diverse people smiling and holding hands. It all sounds too revolting for words.

But inevitably it caught on, and in 2015 Bristol became the first place in the UK to win the ?7m award. By the time the council had chipped in, the city's lunatics suddenly had access to more than ?12m that they could spend on all sorts of harebrained ideas and projects.

Immediately they decided to wire up a beech tree with a sound-and-light system that would be activated by falling nuts. I'm not sure I follow the logic of this idea because either the tree would be far away from people's houses, in which case no one would ever see the sound-and-light show. Or it would be in a residential area, in which case everyone would get a full-on Jean-Michel Jarre experience every time the tree decided to shed a bit of its fruit.

Neither option seems terribly sensible, but it was all academic in the end because it turns out that beech trees drop their nuts every two years. And 2015, for the tree selected for the sound-and-light show, was a year off. So that was ?37,000 of our money up the Swanee.

And I'm afraid the lunacy didn't stop there: ?49,000 went on a solar-powered hot-air balloon, ?3,800 was spent on pies for guests at the launch party and Sir Fiennes trousered five grand for turning up to tell everyone the poles aren't as cold as they used to be. They even gave Aardman Animations ?18,000 for the right to use something called Shaun the Sheep in promotional material.

And they contributed towards a ?49,200 system that shrouded one of the city's foot bridges in mist. Who thought that would be a good idea? "I know. Let's drench everyone when they're walking to work." The only reason they didn't come up with an exhibition on slavery to make people in the city feel guilty is that such a thing already exists. Of course it does.

However, they did make a video showing lots of volunteers doing good works. And we were told that a thousand children visited an exhibition on sustainability. Yes. On school trips. But they don't count because the children had no say in the matter.

As I watched them playing with the interactive displays, their faces etched with an urgent need to slip outside for a cigarette, and maybe a snog, I couldn't help feeling that the whole thing was just like the Millennium Dome. A power station for turning money into absolutely nothing at all. It was, I reckoned, exactly the sort of EU-inspired nonsense that will cause millions to vote "leave" on June 23.

However, there is one legacy I reckon makes the whole project worthwhile. It's an enormous pair of wicker whales that appear to be half-submerged in a field. You can see only the head of one and the tail of the other and it's brilliant. Provided the whole thing isn't burnt to a crisp by vandals, which is a very real possibility, it will live on for many years, bringing joy to people's lives.

And therein lies the problem with all the criticism of Bristol's year as Europe's Green Capital. Yes, a lot of money was pissed away by idiots and communists who hate commercialism and shampoo and anything that makes things better and more comfortable. But the city did end up with wicker whales. And in the future it'll be grateful for them.

Today no one is building stuff for the sake of it. They daren't. Because they know that someone will pipe up and say: "Do you know how many incubators the NHS could have bought for what you've spent?" This saddens me.

Every weekend people flock to Broadway Tower in the Cotswolds and stand in its shadow, oohing and ahhing and marvelling at its splendour. Many wonder why it was built, and the answer is simple. It was built by a rich woman who wanted to find out whether it could be seen from her house 22 miles away.

Britain and France are littered with other examples of this madness. We call them follies and we love them. There are castles that were built to look as though they'd fallen down hundreds of years previously, and gothic temples and pyramids and rocks upended by druids in Wiltshire, and in South Yorkshire a Tuscan pillar that was built by someone to celebrate the fact his best mate had got off a court-martial. Nobody said when it was finished: "Yeah, and how many incubators would that have bought?" Mostly people wrote to its creator to thank him for the work.

I have thought often about mounting a replica Spitfire on a plinth on my farm, but I know that if I do, the planners will tell me to take it down and the Daily Mail will say that I should have spent the money on something more productive and in the end it won't have been worth all the heartache.

That's why I'm in favour of ideas such as this EU Green Capital malarkey. Of course, because it's an eco-thing, it attracts madmen and unwashed women who will waste most of the money they're given but occasionally they'll come up with something wonderful. Such as the wicker whales.

I have no idea how such things promote sustainability or cleaner living or even what relevance the whales have to a field in Bristol, but because they were built with eco-money by eco-people for an eco-future, nobody dares say that the ?84,000 they cost could have been spent on a hospital. And the planners won't make them be dug up.

So the north has its angel and now the south has its whales. And that's why I shall vote to remain in the EU when the time comes.
If Jeremy goes through with the replica spitfire, he could use the Airfix model James May built for Toy Stories...
 

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Revelator

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This week's column will please lovers of Tweety, but not Sylvester:

Come quietly, Tiddles, or it's jail for your owner (June 19)

When I was growing up among the dark and satanic slag heaps of northern England, I well remember watching big flocks of golden plovers hopping about in the spoil, looking for tasty morsels. And in the family garden we would regularly see bullfinches and blue tits and chummy little wrens playing tag with the sparrows.

One day, at dusk, a truly gigantic swarm of starlings arrived and spent a few moments painting extraordinary kaleidoscopic shapes in a sky that had been dyed a fabulous mix of purple and orange by the setting sun and the emissions from the mines and the power stations. You can forget herds of wildebeest and the Grand Canyon. That was, and remains, one of the most spectacular things I've ever seen.

At school I drew pictures of terns in my exercise books and I wrote projects on ospreys and peregrine falcons. I loved birds and I still do, even though I can't remember the last time I actually saw one.

These days I have a farm in the high, rolling hills of the Cotswolds. And sometimes I take a bottle of wine with me and sit at the highest point, on the still sharply defined earth banks of a Neolithic fort, thinking about, oh, just stuff.

It always makes me sad, though, because the only birds I see are the pheasants and partridges I reared and then failed to shoot last winter. Once, I saw a small flock of yellowhammers darting around in a hedgerow, and sometimes a gang of fieldfares will arrive in a tree to ravage it. But mostly the skies are as empty as they are on Mars.

I've planted acre upon acre of game crop and I've erected owl boxes and I've created wild, untended motorways for the insects and the voles to use. Because if you get the insects and the voles, you get the birds. Except you don't. Not any more. The fact is that in 1966 there were 210m birds in the UK and now there are fewer than 166m. That's a fall, in just 50 years, of 44m. And that's huge.

Sometimes the RSPB raises this point, but then, because it has been hijacked by lunatics and communists, it always comes to a shoulder-saggingly political conclusion, blaming the empty skies on the motorcar, and people who eat meat, and fertiliser, and Margaret Thatcher.

Last week, however, we learnt the awful truth. The extinction-level event that has reduced the dawn chorus to nothing more than a moment of quiet reflection is actually the domestic cat. Yup, your precious moggy has wreaked more havoc on the world's wildlife than the Exxon Valdez and the Torrey Canyon put together.

Let me give you some numbers. In America the number of birds killed by cats every year is--sit down for this--3.7bn. In the UK it's 55m. And that's just birds. They also murder--and there's no other word for it--220m small creatures such as shrews and voles. Ever wondered why you never see hedgehogs any more? Well, for an answer, stare into the slitty, unblinking puddles of evil that masquerade as a cat's eyes.

I appreciate there are people who like their cats but I have no idea why. They spend 80% of the day asleep and the other 20% ignoring you. Occasionally one will leap onto the kitchen table and raise its tail so you can see its anus, and then, after you've given it some extremely expensive food, it will go outside to kill whatever it can get its claws on. For fun. Tom and Jerry wasn't a cartoon. It was a documentary.

Make absolutely no mistake about this. If you were 6in tall, your cat would amuse itself by tearing you to pieces, instead of doing what it does now; which is sit around, waiting for you to die of loneliness.

This is what cat owners must understand. That they are feeding and housing an animal that kills for a laugh. Which means they are giving house room to a psychopath. "Oh, but he's so clean and he always disposes of his poos so thoughtfully," says Marjorie in her moggy's defence.

Yes, Marjorie, but Fred West also disposed of his poos thoughtfully, and you wouldn't want him living in a basket in the kitchen, would you? Cats also ruin furniture, give me asthma, wake me up in the night by fighting and clog up Instagram. And what do their owners get in return? Nothing. That's what. I asked my colleague James May last week why he has cats and he actually said: "Because they don't care about me." So what's the point, then? He might as well have an ant. Or a stick.

If I were in charge of everything, I'd announce the immediate introduction of a cat amnesty. Owners would be told they had 24 hours to hand their cat in to a police station, and anyone who failed to comply would have to go to prison.

Because we face a simple choice. Cats or birds. And I'm sorry but that's like saying, "Would you like to spend a fortnight in St Tropez this summer or would you rather fall into some farm machinery?" However, it seems there is a third option. According to John Bradshaw, who somehow makes a living by being a cat behaviour expert at Bristol University, it may be possible to breed the murderer traits out of a cat.

He says there are only a dozen or so genes that differ between a domestic cat and the bigger, more jungly and more effective hunter variety, and if these could be studied more carefully, then boffins could rub them out.

Yes, and after they've removed its killer instinct, maybe they could give it paws without vicious claws, and doe eyes, and perhaps a gene that makes it want to put its head out of the window when it's in a car, and fetch sticks and retrieve downed pheasants from the middle of a lake, and bark at burglars and love its owner to death. Because that, surely, would be the perfect pet.
Clarkson makes at least one mistake--in order for Tom and Jerry to be a documentary, Tom would have had to successfully kill Jerry and several thousand mice afterward.
 

volvoturbo

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This week's column will please lovers of Tweety, but not Sylvester:



Clarkson makes at least one mistake--in order for Tom and Jerry to be a documentary, Tom would have had to successfully kill Jerry and several thousand mice afterward.
Great writing though, one of the most funny columns I read of him recently, had a really good laugh!

He should actually have referred to the example of Australia, where cats are a real plague, killing millions of wildlife and endangering species. Cats are indeed one of the best hunters on this planet, and as clarkson says, they do it for fun. I like cats but have 3 dogs.

My garden is actually full of birds, I hear them every morning and I see them eat all my red, blue and black berries, to my frustration. We need more cats over here.
 

speedyvespa

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Best article yet. Fellow bird lover, I have two cats that stay INDOORS or go in their outside pen. Never ever allowed to roam freely. They don't care as long as they get fed and are allowed to ignore you except when they flash their pink starfish at you whilst you're eating your dinner.
 

Mr. Nice

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I wholeheartedly agree with Clarkson about cats. They are evil little creatures that make their owners' homes smell of urine and feces, kill a plethora of creatures, and cause humans to have toxoplasmoids in their brains, which causes these people to engage in behavior that can only be described as crazy and stupid.

The following will help you to understand more about toxoplasmosis:


Cats, Toxoplasmosis & Serious Mental Illness
 
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Elijah B.

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I'm grateful for these column reposts. We're a couple behind now. Any chance of being brought up to date? Thanks.
 

Revelator

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I'm grateful for these column reposts. We're a couple behind now. Any chance of being brought up to date? Thanks.
We're not behind: Last week's column was posted last week, and since I usually post on Monday, yesterday's column is below:

I'm going to hell in a handkerchief and no one cares (June 26)

Yes. I'm going to ignore the elephant in the room. I'm going to pretend it isn't there, that there was no real news at all last week and no important resignations. And instead I shall write about hay fever.

Hay fever is one of those ailments that garner no real public sympathy. It's like insomnia. Tell someone you can't sleep and they'll say, immediately: "Oh, I can. Head hits the pillow and I'm out like a light." Which, as David Baddiel once pointed out, doesn't happen when someone says they're blind. You don't reply by saying: "Ooh, I'm not. I can see colours and shapes and everything."

Last week I was filming in Wales, in fields full of long grass, on what might fairly be termed a perfect summer's day. Except it wasn't perfect because of my allergies. My eyes were not so much bloodshot as actually bleeding. My nose was a tap. And I felt as though death might well be near. And all I got from the crew was an "oh". It was as though I'd told them I'd cut my finger.

It used to be worse when I was younger, but did the school care? No. Not even a small bit. In fact, it used to deliberately make everything worse by making me play cricket. I'd be forced because I wasn't any good at it to stand in the long grass, miles from what passed for the action, until I had actually sneezed out a lung. Occasionally the ball would come my way, scalding hot from re-entering the Earth's atmosphere, and from all over the pitch people would order me loudly to catch it.

Which was impossible, because I was sneezing and blind and completely disabled. Usually the ball would connect with the end of my hopelessly outstretched middle finger, driving the entire digit into the palm of my hand, before falling, to a chorus of "You useless prat", to the ground.

Later, much later, when I really should have been in hospital, they'd tie pads to my legs and give me a bat and make me stand in the middle of the pitch so a huge boy called Phil Lovell could throw at me what was, to all intents and purposes, a rock. And I wouldn't know it was coming until it hit me in the left testicle.

I would beg the teachers to let me off cricket but they would have none of it. They would talk about the trenches and how people didn't moan about hay fever back then, and two days later send me back out to have the other testicle mashed to a pulp as well.

I was sent, eventually, to a clinic, where the doctors determined, by stabbing me in the arm about 400 times, that I was allergic to grass and should avoid it where possible. Which is pretty tricky in a country where only 2% of the land has been built on.

But it was an actual doctor's note. An official document that I could present to the teachers ... who simply tore it up and told me to report to the cricket field immediately.

In the sixth form I simply refused to do it and they would punish me by giving me two hours of detention on a Saturday afternoon. They would actually punish me for being ill. Except, of course, it wasn't really a punishment, because sitting in a room, with the windows shut to keep out the pollen, reading a good book, was, frankly, a lot better than having my fingers and my testicles broken.

Exams? Absolutely no concession was made at all back then. I sneezed so much onto one history paper that after two hours it looked as if I'd vomited on it. Eventually I was expelled, for a number of reasons, some of which involved my refusal to play cricket. Which means I was expelled, in part, for having hay fever.

Since then, of course, the world has changed. Teachers are no longer allowed to fondle their pupils. Police constables have been banned from clipping apple scrumpers round the ear, and victims are allowed to do pretty much what they want until they get "closure".

Yet hay fever is still treated as a mild and pathetic ailment that troubles only the weak and the feeble-minded. A friend of mine told the people who'd photographed him jumping a red light that he'd been sneezing at the time, but he still had to pay the fine. He was lying, of course, but they never even bothered to find out.

You could say your burqa slipped and they'd let you off. You could say you had premenstrual tension and they'd offer you counselling. But hay fever? No.

Last week, as I sneezed and retched my way round the hay fields of Wales, my cameraman, who is a genuinely decent old-school socialist, told me that drug companies have developed a cure but won't release it because they make more money from selling stuff that reduces the symptoms.

Yes, Ben, and there are aliens in the Nevada desert, the oil companies are suppressing an engine that runs on water and Mrs Thatcher was the devil. Your theory falls down, I'm afraid, because the one thing hay-fever sufferers know for a fact is that no pill or potion works. It should say on the bottle, in huge letters: "This is totally useless." Hay-fever alleviants either do nothing at all or send you to sleep, which is fine if you are a student but not fine if you are driving down the motorway.

There are injections you can have before the season begins, and they too are a terrible con. Because when you go back to your doctor in July to tell him that you are still sneezing and crying every time you walk past a hay bale, he will say: "Yes. But think how much worse it would have been if you hadn't given me ?75." And there's no arguing with that.

Some scientific research was being done to help sufferers, but that was a pan-European effort, and now, well, that's the elephant in the room, isn't it? And I'm not going there. I'm just waiting for the autumn, when it will be dark and cold and wet and we will have a prime minister we didn't elect. And everything will be better.
 

Revelator

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Politics this week:

Our only hope is a second vote and a truly rotten PM (July 3)

At work recently we had a vote and decided to invest a considerable sum of money in a new venture that within a week we could see was not going to work. We all sat around wailing and gnashing our teeth until someone had a brilliant idea. "I know," he said. "Let's have another vote." So we did and, as a result, financial ruin was averted. Phew.

Today lots of people me included are suggesting there should be a second vote on this whole Europe business, but we're told by people in suits that this is not possible. And when we ask why, they say: "Because you just can't."

Why not? Where in the constitution does it say we must abide by the result of a plebiscite, no matter how moronic that result might be? It doesn't say that. It doesn't say anything in fact because we don't really have a constitution in Britain. So we can do what happens to be sensible at any given moment. And what is sensible now surely is to hold a vote when everyone is equipped with the most powerful tool in the box: hindsight.

Of course this would infuriate millions of idiotic north of England coffindodgers who are prepared to bankrupt the country simply because they don't want to live next door to a "darkie". Many will write angry letters full of capital letters and underlining to their local newspapers. And there will be lots of discontent in various bingo halls, but who cares? They'll all be dead soon anyway.

It's also true to say that a second vote would make us look ridiculous on the world stage. But better to look silly for a short time than to live for ever in a dimly lit, poverty-stricken, festering nest of warts, mud and minority-bashing incidents on the bus home every evening.

The last time Europe was truly united the Romans were in charge, but then one day everyone decided they didn't like the wine and the roads and the baths and the smart uniforms any more and for the next 500 years Britain endured the Dark Ages when everyone died at the age of 27, in hideous agony, having achieved absolutely nothing at all.

Then there was the Reformation when a bunch of people decided they wanted to go it alone without Mr Pope. The 30-year war that resulted killed up to 40% of Germany's population.

It'll be the same thing all over again if we leave the EU. The Germans will grow tired of supporting the Greeks on their own and become Hitlerish again. The French will go on strike. Hadrian's Wall will have to be rebuilt and manned with armed guards. England will be plunged into a recession so deep that we will be forced to eat one another and then Vladimir Putin will arrive in a tank and there will be a war.

Yes, 17.4m people voted to leave the EU believing that they'd immediately get their job back from that bastard Latvian at No 24 and that new and exciting trade deals would be done and that the NHS would get ?350m a week.

But now they have realised that, actually, all the money we save by not being in the EU will have to be spent policing the camps around London's St Pancras station that will need to be built to house the million Syrians who've been ushered onto a train in Paris. And that the fishing quotas won't change. And that going abroad on holiday will be too time-consuming at the airport and too expensive. And as a result many are ringing Jeremy Vine to say that if they were given their time again, they'd vote to remain.

This is the problem. We could soon be in the situation where 80% or 90% of the population is lying in the street, covered in weeping sores, begging for a second referendum, and we won't be able to have one because a man in a suit says: "You just can't."

It's such a stupid state of affairs that even my hair is angry. I toss and turn at night, beating the pillow with impotent rage as I think how little humanity would have achieved if it had never been given the opportunity to change its mind. And how my kids are going to live miserable lives because our generation was too stubborn and too frightened of looking silly to say: "Let's try that again."

There is, as I see it, only one glimmer of hope. One chance that the day can be saved. And tragically it is called Tom Watson.

He is, as I write, still the deputy leader of the Labour party. He is also very possibly the worst human being on the planet. I hate him on a cellular level. I dislike him so much that on long car journeys I often amuse myself by thinking up new and interesting ways of peeling off all his skin.

The hatred began when he began to persecute friends of mine in the world of newspapers and it was curdled with added venom when he initially refused to apologise after accusing an innocent man of being a rapist and kiddie fiddler. He is a terrible man, but given the tumult surrounding the Labour leadership he does stand a chance of being the party leader by the time the country is faced with its next general election. Of course, Watson has suggested that he won't run for his party's leadership but then that's what Michael Gove said.

And if Watson does become leader, all he needs to fix this Brexit mess is to say in his manifesto: "If I am elected, I will hold another referendum on Britain's EU membership."

He'd win by a landslide. Even I would vote for him. And then in the referendum that followed, the young would actually get off their arses and go to the polling booth, millions would change their mind, we'd be back in the bosom of the EU, the uncertainty would end, the financial tap would be turned back on, the recession would be avoided, Scotland would hang around, there would be no famine and Putin's tanks would remain in their bunkers.

The only downside, of course, is that we'd end up with a horrible, horrible man as prime minister. But that, in my book, is a price worth paying.
 

raul

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Has the Queen any power to say that the referendum is not binding, and that UK will remain in the EU????
 

Tzarrim

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It's hilarious to see people who didn't agree to the voting outcome to state with certainty why the brexit voters voted as they did, including Jezza. It comes as no surprise that what they think is the reason is of course a terrible one, because it suits their needs. It's called framing and I expected better from him.
 
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