Tag Archives: Jeremy Clarkson

Memo to All Idiots: Stop Being Idiots

10 Aug

This morning a friend sent me an email letter to which was attached a ‘hilarious’ photograph of something she saw on her travels across the US (I won’t say which state it was in, but if you assumed it was a Midwestern one, you would not be wrong). It was of a bumper sticker that read:

If I pass you on the right, your in the wrong.

The car displaying this sticker was unsurprisingly red and had hubcaps on its wheels which spun even when the vehicle was stationary.

Unlike in England where two-way roads are so narrow bicyclists barely have the space to travel down them, most roads in America are multi-laned in each direction. Americans drive on the right side of the road (and before any Britons assume that I mean right as in correct, rest assured I mean right as in not left: you will not find me in any motoring-based morality arguments like that). The general rule is that those driving the speed limit should drive in the right lane, and that the left lane be used only by those who are speeding (which happily makes it quite easy for coppers to spot lawbreakers).  The left lane therefore is also known (by twats) as the ‘fast lane’.

Clearly the driver in the red Ford displaying said bumper sticker feels strongly about this guideline. He is clearly so outraged by those in the left lane travelling at the speed limit that not only does he feel the need to overtake them, he also takes the opportunity to remind them that they are in fact wrong’. I can only deduce from his placing of a non-removable decal on his vehicle (not even on the bumper, mind, but across the rear window) that the ‘fast lane’ issue is a passion of his, something he feels in the very pit of his soul.

Perhaps I should admire his commitment. However, I do not. Because he is clearly an idiot, and idiots do not deserve admiration for anything they do.  There is one simple clue to his idiocy—though I’ve no doubt there’s plenty more evidence available—and I trust that you all spotted it instantly within my unbiased description above.

It’s the word your.

Not driving fast in the ‘fast lane’ may be frustrating and naive, but if you need a clear cut example of something that is across-the-board, out-and-out wrong, you need look no Stop Sonfurther than the word your.

Your means ‘belonging to you’. I assume the driver meant you’re, meaning ‘you are’. While I acknowledge the two words sound the same, they are in fact two completely different words. The bumper sticker might as well as read ‘tomato in the wrong’. Tomato does not mean you’re and your does not mean you’re.

God gave us the English language to use to communicate with one another. It’s a great language. It’s got words like crumbly and delicate and trumpery, fantastic words that incorporate a range of sounds and many shades of meaning. But the language only works when used correctly. Using words incorrectly destroys marriages (my darling, our love is so holey) or results in incarceration (I have the head of that old dear hanging over my fireplace).  Using words incorrectly is wrong.

If I ran the world (which as of yet, I do not), people driving slowly in the left lane wouldn’t give me much pause. But people who say your when they mean you’re would immediately be banished to Idiot Island (formerly Molokai) where they would be exiled until they learned to speak correctly. If that took their entire lifetimes, then so be it.

Just Don’t Wear Them Backwards

15 Apr

While I was out in the garden yesterday tending to some suckling clover, I was startled by a bit of a ruckus next door. Without any effort of my own making, I was able to overhear a conversation between the lad next door and his mother.  From what I could decipher, some chores of his had not been done (she had asked him to take the bins out the other night at approximately 5.45 and again at 6.30 yet he had left without doing so to go watch Clash of the Titans with that Liam Williams kid whose mother leaves a lot to be desired in the responsibility department). The lad’s defense was simply that he had not heard her request on either occasion or he would have definitely done his job.  A few mild swears were tossed about (coming from both parties so this gives you a sense of the kind of people I have living next to me). I was just about to abandon my activity when I heard Lady Muck make a comment which upset me terribly.

She said, “And take off that ridiculous cap, you look a right twat.”

Having been keeping tabs on this boy for a number of weeks (he is my prime suspect in the case of bicycle tracks through my tulip bed), I know the cap of which she speaks. It is commonly referred to as a baseball cap, and I feel it is an unfairly maligned article of clothing.

I have already spoken extensively about my love of baseball. The intelligence, bravado, and strength that it takes to be a great player, I feel, means that anyone wearing a hat in any way associated with this great sport always commands a certain amount of respect.

The design of these hats, of course, is based on a specific purpose, which is shielding one’s eyes from the sun. This is why you often see cricket players wearing similar caps, though their brims are just slightly shorter (if you know what I mean). Baseball caps also keep one’s hair out of the way, which could be helpful when one needs to focus on driving or performing keyhole surgery. That’s another feature which shouldn’t be sneezed at.

Because of their width, baseball caps are also useful for publicly stating your support in a team, musical group or cause. They come in so many varieties that they are a comfortable and useful way to advertise your philosophy of life to every Tom, Dick and Harry you pass on your way to the off license.

My shrew of a neighbour therefore was completely disregarding the cap’s historical significance and practical application when she made the above comment. And I know the reason she did this. It’s because the baseball cap is symbolic of America. When Britons aren’t fawning over America, they’re dragging it down. (You’re such a fickle country, you are, but I love you.)

True, America’s got its problems. I’d be first in the queue to admit that (well, actually, I’d probably be second behind Jeremy Clarkson). But it’s outrageous to assume that everything American is bad. That’s just racism. Just because millions of drunk, ignorant, and loud Americans sport baseball caps twenty-four hours a day (many of them even wear them while bathing) it does not mean that the cap itself is the problem. I wish my neighbour would realise that her son has in fact always been a right twat and probably always will be, with or without the baseball cap on his head.

Listen to me, England, you are some of the most compassionate and accepting people I’ve ever known. Don’t blame baseball hats for the idiocy of some who wear them. That’d be like blaming hooded sweatshirts for youth crime, and I know this great nation would never entertain a foolish idea like that. Not only should the lad next door be able to wear his baseball cap, he should do so with pride. And he should do so while reimbursing me for the emotional pain his reckless cycling has caused me and my tulips.

Let’s Talk About . . . Freedom of Speech

3 Dec

When I was about aged nine, each Tuesday, I would kiss my parents goodnight, climb under the covers of my bed, and take out the transistor radio secreted in my bedside cabinet. With the earphone in my left ear (in those days, we were satisfied with just the one), I waited patiently for my clock to chime midnight for that heralded the beginning of my favourite radio series—a locally produced lecture series called “Let’s Talk About . . .” There would be a few seconds of theme tune and then the voice of Dr. Langley Crispier, whom I imagined was most certainly greying at the temples in that most distinguished way many scholars do, would say “Let’s Talk About” followed by the most deliciously exciting pause before announcing the topic of that week’s episode. There was no way of knowing in advance what would be discussed. What made the anticipation so palpable was the fact that, after those few seconds of silence, that man could have said anything.

Except, of course, he couldn’t have said anything. He couldn’t have said “Let’s Talk About Barack Obama’s Presidency,” because this was long before Obama even dreamt of such a thing. He couldn’t have said “Let’s Talk About Emetophilia,” because that would have been too disgusting to hear about at that late hour. He couldn’t have said “Let’s Talk the Bomb That Will Be Hitting Our Town in Three Minutes,” because that would have caused total panic. He couldn’t have said “Let’s Talk About the Policy of Adding Poison to the Food Served at Tim’s Cafe,” because that would have been slanderous (and anyway Tim’s Cafe was a major sponsor of the show and the food there was delectable). Despite America’s laws protecting free speech, Dr. Crispier was not totally free to choose the topic for that night’s speech.

This why I feel compelled to punch in the face those who defend the obnoxious shite that is spewed by the likes of Jeremy Clarkson, David Irving and Ann Coulter with the phrase “Well, it’s a free country and we have free speech.” I don’t stoop to violence, of course, but goodness me, I sometimes want to.

The first problem involves the word free, which can mean “without cost.” Do you think Jeremy Clarkson would be willing to post a rebuttal here for free? I’ve a feeling I’d have to provide him with a rather large cheque for the privilege of publishing his “free” speech. But cost does not always refer to dollar signs. Ask a parent whose gay son committed suicide because of bullying or a worker whose rights are abused because his employer is non-union. The old chestnut “You can’t yell Fire! in a movie house” is true because people could get hurt. Words that perpetuate ignorance and hate may be without cost to Jeremy Clarkson, but someone is paying the price for them everyday.

Ultimately this is what is most important about free speech. Freedom works best when it’s coupled with responsibility. The greatest gift that language offers us is its ability to change the world. I so admire those who use that gift wisely.

I am not arguing for changing laws protecting free speech. But with freedom comes responsibility. If an injured fox were lying in my driveway, I technically have the freedom to run over it with my motorcar. Despite this freedom, I would not because it would be cruel, stupid and messy. It would not be the right thing to do.

But Jeremy Clarkson would run over the fox. And then the BBC would pay him thousands of pounds to talk about it on a television show. And if people were offended, the Sun newspaper would accuse them of wanting censorship.

And that makes me want to vomit (and not in a sexy way).