Monday, December 5, 2011

Bottom gear

Jeremy Clarkson has been in the news, running off at the mouth in his usual manner offending this time striking public sector workers in Britain, saying they should all be shot. He's made a career out of being provocative, like so many in the media all around the world including here, so why this particular remark should have incensed audiences more than usual I don't quite understand. Of course there have been rather too many mass shootings over the last year (even one is more than most of us would prefer) but it was, after all, a joke, albeit a clumsy one, made in his Grumpy Old Man persona. He's become such a star that he's very familiar to millions of viewers all around the world, not one of whom would have taken him seriously.

One of his Top Gear co-presenters, Richard Hammond, the short one who thankfully survived a horrendous crash a couple of years ago, is on the other hand seen as inoffensively cute and appealing - though there are a couple of drinkers in the Nag's Head at Longhope who say he's less nice than he appears: all very happy to sign autographs for pretty girls, but ignoring the adoring little boys who want the same thing, and not willing to participate in community events. Shame, that's the best thing about living in the countryside, especially in England, especially in Herefordshire, as I can say with authority having lived there, and not far from the Hamster's place either. That's it above, Bollitree Castle, between Bromsash and Weston-under-Penyard: an 18th century folly built to look like a much older castle. Behind the 'moat' and the wall is a rather nice country house with a big courtyard and gardens, the ideal place for a meet of hounds which is how, thanks to the Ross Harriers, I got to go there long ago, riding lovely black Reef (who was, strictly speaking, Wreath, as in funeral - stupid idea and even stupider name, as well as hard to say). Now I bet no-one gets to go there: it's all private and closed to view, and Richard apparently flits in and out by helicopter.

So he's missing all the fun of community events, like church fetes and open gardens and village barbecues. Silly man. If ever you're driving through the English countryside and happen across one of these events, stop at once and go in. They're great fun.

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