- Mar 27, 2005
- Boston, MA, USA
- #Jaguar #XKR, #Saab #9-3
Not his exact words, but I'm paraphrasing.
From his Telegraph column:
From his Telegraph column:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/main.jhtml?xml=/motoring/2008/07/12/mrmay112.xmlJames May said:There's nothing quite like a nice warm gin and tonic
Recently, you will no doubt have seen that there has been a bit of a stink in some of the papers about my drive to the North Pole with Jeremy Clarkson. So I would like to use this week's column not to offer an unreserved apology.
The question everyone is asking is this: is it right for two grown men to be seen on television - on a public service channel at that - drinking gin and tonic while in charge of a powerful four-wheel-drive vehicle? The answer is obviously yes. Yes it is.
Jeremy Clarkson and James May on their North Pole expedition
Cold comfort: James May says he deserved a gin and tonic after his expedition with Jeremy Clarkson
I'm not suggesting you should do this sort of thing on a public thoroughfare. That would be worse than stupid. But we were at least 400 miles from the nearest road, so what, exactly, was the problem? That we might have caused an accident? That we were setting a bad example to other people driving to the North Pole in a Toyota pickup?
I have been vilified for asking Clarkson to "slow down while I cut the lemon", but what was this if not due consideration for health and safety? Had he kept going at that speed I might have been flung across the cabin and stabbed him through the throat with the carefully honed expedition instrument I bought from John Lewis the day before we left.
The flaw in the argument of some of these so-called reporters is that, while they might be familiar with Gin Lane, none of them has driven to the North Pole with Clarkson. Only I have, so only I have a valid opinion on the matter, and my opinion is that it's pretty bloody awful.
We didn't wash for 10 days. It never got dark but I had to attempt to sleep in a frozen tent with an exploding paraffin cooker and another man, who cocooned himself completely in his sleeping bag and then writhed around all "night" like a blasphemous maggot. We ate food made from rehydrated Guardian social services job adverts out of dog bowls, and had to arm ourselves before going to the lavatory in case we were caught with our rancid pants down by a polar bear. Tell me we weren't entitled to seek brief respite in the juniper berry.
To be honest, I not only condone this sort of thing, I wholeheartedly recommend it, should you find yourself driving to the North Pole in a Toyota pickup. There is something satisfyingly surreal about huddling inside eight layers of arctic clothing at an ambient temperature of minus 30, then chipping a tiny piece from the frozen wasteland, dropping it into your drink and then allowing the lot to course, terrifying in its coldness, down your throat in defiance of the lethally low thermometer reading. Gin and tonic is seen as a hot-weather drink but believe me, it tastes best when it's the warmest thing on offer.
What's more, serving a decent gin and tonic - quite a skill in itself - throws up unique challenges at those latitudes, and my efforts should rightly be seen as pioneering work in the quest to establish it as a truly global drink. Normally, a G&T served at a wedding reception or a poncy garden party is too warm. Near the North Pole, it tends to be too cold, ie frozen.
You probably keep your tins of tonic water in the fridge. I was forced to store them in a large Thermos flask half full of water at about three degrees, itself procured only after a scary session with a saucepan and the suicidal paraffin heater. In the open (and that included the inside of the car, where the heater was never used) their contents froze and burst the tins. At least three servings of tonic are still there, locked for eternity in the instant of effervescence, relics as poignant as Captain Oates's boots.
But still some people - people no doubt enjoying the privileges of a comfy chair and a loose-fitting shirt - see fit to condemn our actions from a position of ignorance. I do not have a view on how people should behave on the field of battle, because I've never been there. People who have not driven to the North Pole with Clarkson are likewise not entitled to a view on how best to endure its horrors.
When we had completed our expedition I was asked, by a reporter, if my life would be better or worse for the experience. I decided it would be worse, because occasionally I would remember it.
I take some solace, however, in the thought that I remember slightly less of it than I might have done. Thanks to Gordon's.
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