Full throttle, half-cocked

For the first time in what seems like a long time, Johann Hari has written something I can agree with. My one qualification is that I haven’t watched “Top Gear” a sufficient number of times to gauge whether Johann’s representation of the program as little other than a eulogy to speed is wholly accurate. My guess is that things are a little more nuanced, however, I’ve seen and heard enough to know that if Johann is a little unfair, then it is just a little.

I’m hoping for Jeremy Clarkson’s sake that his automotive knowledge really is as towering as I suspect, because he knows bugger all about almost everything else. His performances on Question Time over the years have left me apoplectic. A bore and boor who can out-bigot Littlejohn; your archetypal bigmouth bully who regards facts as optional extras, derides experts as fuddy-duddys with no experience of “real life” – unlike a multi-millionaire TV personality – a professional sneerer who ‘knows what he knows’ but who is rarely confronted with the truth of how little that actually is. Not even sticking one on Piers Morgan can alter my opinion of him.

Well, maybe a little…

Clarkson’s attitude to speed on our roads encapsulates his anti-intellectualism perfectly. He’s the champion of common vandals whose contribution to society is the destruction of speed cameras proven to reduce deaths; no doubt a better class of yob than the sort who go around key-ing Mercedes.

According to Wikipedia, Clarkson has a clean driving licence. Evidence, some might say, for the claim that Clarkson is nothing more than an eccentrically opinionated blusterer who is only ever half-serious about anything he says and given to turns of phrase that are designed to provoke his detractors rather than accurately reflect his views. The joke is on us – that is, those of us who take him at face-value – some will no doubt say.

Maybe. But so long as speeding remains the most socially acceptable form of gambling with other people’s lives – having overtaken (no pun intended) drink-driving – then some of us won’t be laughing at good old Jeremy.