It's true, I don't like cars, which explains my reluctance to inject more life into the Jeremy Clarkson debacle around his behavior and subsequent sacking by the BBC. However, being alive generally over the last week in London has alerted anyone, even those averting the issue, that this is a touchy subject and many (about a million) oppose the BBC's reaction not to renew his contract. Was it the right decision. Er? Yes. There are harder decisions than this one to be taken daily in the work force, albeit less interwoven with a product making a yearly profit of 42 million pounds that has had executives groaning in exasperation.
Money and sporting the big honcho mantle of celebrity present a dilemma that in any normal business would find the culprit booted out of the door without a peep. I suppose it's inconceivable that the big honcho take himself off to a review panel, pronto. Or maybe even apologize at the time, free of media duress. Or sign up to anger management sessions. Instead, while participating at a charity auction a day or two after the story broke, his Tourettes-like barrage of expletives about the BBC was mind-boggling. People may have laughed, but surely through crumpled lips of distaste. And after the fervor of the last few days, when the three amigos from Top Gear appear to have withdrawn from the program along with the tank and those signatures, the overwhelming sense is of one individual teetering mentally.
I would like to think that this week's Sunday Times Review article, "Clarkson Unbound" by Nick Rufford, is, at best, a plea for Jeremy to get some help. Because at worst, it reads like the story of the protagonist in a re-working of a bestseller now titled, The Curious Incident Of The Man in the Night-Time, with a misunderstood but laudable condition coated in intelligence. In reality, however, the article is a liturgy of excuses for inexcusable behavior. Boo-hoo Clarkson is not as thick-skinned as he would like us to think he is, (says his mother), and he loves butterflies, the countryside, vegetables, the BBC, he lost his dad when young, is hard-working, cycles, can laugh off things so why shouldn't we, and maintains he has never been depressed. And so bright is this middle-aged savant that he has even worked on historical documentaries that highlight events a world away from crashing four-by-fours into trees.
We can all whittle away the hours of insomnia (from which he suffers), but does his uncontrollable, physically abusive, loud-mouthing mask a helplessness when everyone else is awake? Or is he just the thug with hundreds of acres of Oxfordshire countryside, presumably so he can have no one the likes of him anywhere near him.
It appears that a fun and flush television program, rather than the mental fragility of a successful presenter, takes precedence among a public that, in supporting his unacceptable behavior, is doing no favors for the object of their support. A 20-year-old rock star trashing a hotel room, maybe. It happens. But a 54-year-old with grey teeth and a beer belly. Seriously? And if, according to the article, punching people and thrusting a 20-minute, profanity-laced diatribe down the gullet of a colleague is just a clash between his public and private persona, then could Jeremy's friends and ex co-workers help him grow up before accepting another lucrative offer, via the dentist.