Round the Bend


The latest from British tele-personality Jeremy Clarkson is called Round the Bend (ISBN 978-0-718-15841-5, Penguin books 2011), and is a collection of Clarkson’s motoring columns in the Sunday Times.

I have reported previously, you do not read his Sunday Times column (or watch his television program, Top Gear) to be educated about cars.  You become a fan of Clarkson’s for his pithy sense of wit.

Before you read any of the small chapters, you will be smiling at just reading the headings, such as “David Dimbleby made me wet myself,” (Mercedes-Benz CLK Black Series), “Lovely to drive, awful to live with” (Porsche Cayenne GTS), “A car even its mother couldn’t love (Porsche Panamera), “You’ll really stand out – for paying too much” (Mini Cooper S Convertible).  You get the idea.  In fact, one wonders why the manufacturers give Clarkson a car to play with.  They must believe that any mention is better than being ignored.

But then open any chapter and read such metaphors as “The plastics would have looked shoddy on an Ethiopian’s wheelie bin,” (Lotus Evora 2+2), or “In time you do get used to them (the brakes) in the same way that you get used to having no arms.  And when you do, the rest of the car is a big slice of bonkers joy,” (Mercedes SLR McLaren) or again, “The drunks are trying to find someone who still knows what a steering wheel does, half a dozen chatty souls are inviting you back to their places for more drinks and you have a devil on your shoulder telling you that, yes, it would be a brilliant idea to go with them,” (Lexus RX 450h SE-L).

In no way do you have to be a petrol head (or these days, a diesel head) and you will not read anything about CO2 emissions, as the only emissions that Clarkson would write about are those experienced by pubescent boys.

The Greens and climate change do not escape.  “It (the Green Party) may be woolly on the issue of climate change – it keeps claiming that the world is warming up when every single figure shows it’s actually cooling down – but on road safety the Green Party seems to be bang on the money.  It says casualty figures aren’t dropping because the roads are full of gormless morons.”

But give Clarkson just a little chink in the bodywork of a new car and you will be met with such descriptions as, “Ugly to behold and hateful to drive, it is not cheap, elegant, comfortable, practical, prestigious, clever, economical, luxurious, well designed …”  You get the message!

At B. 685 in Bookazine, it is a hefty price, but it is a hefty book at 400 large pages, though the font size is also large (which certainly makes it easier on the eyes).  Coming weekly in the Sunday Times would almost be enough for me to take out a subscription, but in book form, his (self) opinions can become a little too much, reading chapter after chapter.  Intersperse a few days between each and this book will keep you chuckling for weeks.