My partner thinks I have a man crush on Jeremy Clarkson.
She's a little mystified by my adulation. As would my friends be. If they knew I liked watching Top Gear. I guess I just outed myself.
Clarkson is much maligned for his politically incorrect comments. He's offended politicians, pop culture icons and countless automobiles. He's been in trouble for using the 'n' word and the 'slope' word.
Clarkson referred to one car as an imbecile. And said that the Jaguar XKR-S: "gets its tail out more readily than George Michael."
I reckon I'm pretty much the antithesis of Clarkson. Well if you believe what you read in the press. Or what your ears hear and eyes see. Which I generally don't.
Clarkson is (allegedly) a sexist, racist, homophobe. He drinks and smokes (I think). He eats meat. He loves cars. And hates public transport and cyclists. I'm an anti smoking, anti drinking, left wing, vegetarian, greenie who owns two bicycles and uses public transport.
I do drive a car but it's not a Lamborghini inter-gallactic-ego. It's a Mazda three.
If I showed up at Clarkson's for a bbq, he'd burn me a cauliflower, then unleash his repertoire of vegetarian jokes.
Clarkson is also a risk taker. Unlike myself. It doesn't get much riskier than driving a car to the North Pole. Something no ones attempted before. And for good reason. Thanks to the warming of the planet, the ice, in some places, is about the same thickness as an after eight mint. Hammond could quite literally have ended up the sole presenter of Top Gear. They could have replaced Clarkson and May. Perhaps with John Prescott and Andrew Ridgley.
The closest I get to thrill seeking is traveling on the Frankston line. Which I've affectionately dubbed the methadone express. That might sound 'piss weak' but my neighbours recently moved to the area and they dubbed it "Frank-ghanistan."
On rare occasions I ride one of my bikes around Melbourne. Which can be tricky. Potentially lethal if Shane Warne's in town. It's a bit like strapping a roast chicken to your head before leaping into a croc infested river.
By far the most dangerous thing I've done is 'rant' at a Grand Final' party, about how crap Australian Rules Football is. They beat up my cauliflower so I took my leave.
My risks aren't in the same league as Clarkson, they're not even in the same pub. Driving on paper thin ice, traveling through Alabama with 'Country and Western is Rubbish' painted on the side of your car, and riding a Vespa across Vietnam. These are man sized risks. By 'man' I mean mental, poorly thought out and ill prepared.
Despite all the opposites between myself and Jezza, I can't get enough of his antics.
Ive seen many specials of top gear and regular episodes. I’ve watched car reviews on the Arial Atom, the Aston Martin DB something. And a host of other cars I'll mispronounce and never get to drive.
In fact I like Clarkson so much I bought one of his books. 'The world according to Clarkson.' Volume one. This is where I discovered a different side of Clarkson.
I read an article where he openly praised Tony Benn, a left wing labour politician who my socialist grandmother more than approved of. Another where Clarkson refers to refugees as 'poor souls.'
One where he talks about the way we make 'snap' decisions about people, based on their shoes, eyes or other little details. Then Clarkson questions the effectiveness of our Jury system given our judgmental nature.
His crowning glory for me, so far, is an article entitled 'The More We're Told the Less We Know.' An insightful exploration of our sound bite culture. It concludes, "there are two sides to every story and both sides are usually right. So you can only have an opinion if you do not have all the facts to hand."
I'm not here to defend Mr. Clarkson's dubious comments. Or to condemn him. What Clarkson's duality demonstrates is that we're not one dimensional people.
I think I know who people are, but I don't, because I don't have all the facts. I base my perception of people on limited information. On real life sound bites.
When I attend a sweat lodge, I think everyone there is a mad hippy with a tenuous grasp of reality. At rainbow serpent I'm convinced everyone is s drug infused tea bag. Occasionally I'll say with absolute certainty, that everybody who likes ACDC is a bogan. All writers and film critics are pretentious scrotums, or the female equivalent. Plus all Chelsea fans are racist and all poms whinge.
These are pretty limited views of people based on my fears or prejudices. Most people aren't all bad, nor are they all good. We're flawed and we'd all do well to remember that.
The next time I'm in a sweat lodge, suffering extreme heat and intensely maddening drumming and chanting. I'm going to try to give everyone a break, including myself.
The next time I hear ACDC blaring out of a car window, I'll consider the occupant, might be, a privately educated barrister.' Rather than a toothless alcoholic with seven kids from four different women.
The next time I see a crazed, naked, white dread head at rainbow serpent festival. I'll give him the benefit of doubt. I'll put his insistence on waggling his penis at everyone down to being high on life, not MDMA.
The next time I see a Chelsea supporter I'll think, 'West London's ours, West London's ours, f**k off Chelsea, West London's ours."
Three out of fours not bad.