31 July, 2006

Dig o'the stump

TVJism: 'Top Gear'

Dutifully copied'n'pasted from The Friday Thing
31 July 2006

A question! Which television programme, we ask you, is the most illegally downloaded in the world? 'Lost'? 'CSI'? 'The Jade's Salon Tin Bath Full of Quicklime Special'? Wrong, wrong and wrong. It is, in fact, the BBC's paragon of geezer, 'Top Gear'. Hugely popular amongst petrolheads and lovers of shouty-bloke-type comedy the planet over, and without a regular slot in some of the world's largest gas-guzzling nations, it is passed round YouTube and torrent sites like Fiesta Readers' Wives around the school bike shed. The mind boggles.

As another series of 'Top Gear' draws to a tyre-shrieking conclusion this Sunday, we ask ourselves the question that shakes the very psyche of the British nation right down to its foundations and beyond. Jeremy Clarkson: is he going soft? Has 'Top Gear', as they say, jumped the shark? And, of course, the clincher: is Top Gear Dog the Scrappy Doo of the motoring magazine show?

Brash, loud, offensive to just about anybody in the whole world who doesn't live in the South-East of England, or wear tight jeans without a belt at the age of forty, we get the distinct impression that under Jezza's gnarled, politically incorrect exterior, there hides, in a very small way, a bearded, cardigan-wearing Bickerton-riding vegan. We would be prepared to speculate, even, that when ordering six pounds of very rare kitten steak at Le Restaurant de Posh in Kensington, he will quietly take the maitre d' aside and request a side-dish of hummus and a nourishing three-bean salad. Time mellows all men.

Oh, and the other two fellas. Y'know. The comedy sidekick with the hair; and the hamster.

The change in the programme has been as sudden as it has been unexpected. Coming back from a month's enforced lay-off as a result of the World Cup, the 10 gallon-per-mile supercars have been subtly nudged slightly to one side in favour of cars that normal people might actually be able to afford. Granted, they still thrash them to pieces as they've done every week since the programme's shouty 2002 re-birth, but all of a sudden there are articles about people carriers without Clarkson and co being insufferably rude. Then, something with a Ferrari just to keep up appearances.

Back in the old days, 'Top Gear' was a worthy, public service magazine programme for the kind of enthusiast that buffs up the company Cortina of a Sunday, dreaming of upgrading to a Volvo. Speed limits were rigidly adhered to, and there were long, detailed discussions on the shape of the gear stick on the Mini Metro. It was, we are sure you'll agree, horribly dull. And hugely popular, despite the presence of Noel Edmonds.

The new programme is very much Clarkson's baby, with just the merest nod to public service. It's not even about the cars anymore. It's three blokes talking wanky bollocks in front of a pub audience, and if you took all the automotive guff away and called the show 'Pow-errrrrrrrrrrr!' it would still stand up as a pretty successful ensemble comedy. If 'Top Gear' was a person, it'd be Billy Idol - the cutting edge of cool, dangerous driving, but, God, he's fifty...

'Top Gear''s laddish rebirth has drawn a steady stream of critics, essentially driven by the programme's none-less-green agenda and its status as 'the cutting edge of cocking about', bestowed on the show when they fired a rocket-powered Mini down a ski jump. Impartiality is one thing to which 'Top Gear' certainly does not subscribe. It openly mocks any link between the automobile and global warming, and would probably attempt to prove this by driving a Range Rover to the South Pole and leaving the engine running for a month. And people would still call this 'a waste of the licence fee'.

Somebody on high has almost certainly had a word: 'A bit more educating, informing and entertaining if you don't mind, and let that be the last caravan you blow up for a while. There's a BBC Charter to renew, and Mrs Jowell's got an eye on the Caravan Club vote.'

William Woollard would be spinning in his grave. That is, if we hunted him down like a dog and bumped him off with Jeremy's dream set of wheels - a Bugatti Veyron with boot-mounted Katyusha rocket system. Come to think of it, with Raymond Baxter's still twitching corpse propping up the Cool Wall, they should bring back 'Tomorrow's World' as well, get a few geezers to fart around on the cutting edge of technology and perhaps scrabble together a hugely successful TV programme. Or, they could just call it 'Brainiac'.

27 July, 2006

a blow for equal rights

Help is at hand for worried female motorists, nervous about driving alone, especially at night. At the flick of a switch the "Buddy on Demand", a blow-up man inflates.

Research by the insurer Sheilas' Wheels, shows 82 per cent of women feel safer with someone sitting in the car beside them and nearly a half do not like driving alone in the dark.

"We're not saying that an inflatable man is the only answer but we do hope it will give women extra confidence and make journeys in the dark less fearful," Jacky Brown, spokeswoman for Sheilas' Wheels, said.

"Christ knows these women are in enough trouble already. They can barely reach the pedals from up there on the shelf. Where they've been left." said Brown idly toying with her diamond wedding ring.

"And I bet they can't even hear the radio over the racket of their biological clocks ticking away."

Brown denied accusations that the firm traded on dated sexist stereotypes, insisting that hard data shows women claim less, are responsible for far fewer driving convictions.

Data also demonstrates conclusively that a car with a parcel-shelf festooned with teddy bears and beanie babies will be covered in parking scrapes and have a shagged clutch.

23 July, 2006

Power Rangers are go!

Q: What could be nicer than a blast through the fine English countryside early on Sunday morning?

A: Getting a mate to stand in the road with a camera and then riding at him. Cheers Mondo!

17 July, 2006

so narcotic outta sight

After hanging around with the bigger boys, hearing stories about what they'd been up to, I suspected that much of it was locker-room talk, braggadocio if you will but there was still a corrosive doubt that I hadn't 'done it' and let's face it, until you've 'done it' you're a boy amongst men and don't get to have an opinion on the matter.

Well I finally did it, and you know what? A lot of those stories you hear are quite right. I got frustrated and thought I'd never do it, and then it happened. Bam! Sure it was a little uncomfortable, and yes, it was downright scary at first. But once you get over that first time it just gets better and better. It feels natural and right, and you start to wonder how it was so difficult. Is it just a mental thing?

Obviously the scraping sound put me off at first and the smell of burning plastic was a little disconcerting but I couldn't be happier.

I finally got my knee down!

14 July, 2006

I'm the lyrical Jesse James

"Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language" Henry James

The British summer, capricious and fickle with her sunbeams may dissapear at any moment. Perhaps this explains why the public are wont to grab it with both hands when it does arrive. When the sun is beaming down on Albion the scent of coconut milk is heavy in the air, and swathes of puffy white flesh are brought forth for pinkening.

Perhaps that's why cabriolet's are more popular in Britain than anywhere else in Europe. It certainly isn't because of the handling improvements lopping the roof off brings.

The ragtop speaks of a youthful joie de vivre, a sun-kissed embrace of summer, just as a folding metal roof indicates that you do highlights and permanent waves for a living.

All this makes a certain kind of drop top all the more inexplicable. The large blousy Peugeot, Merc and Volvo type offerings, as dashing and attractive as a middle aged divorcee in short shorts. For god's sake put it away. Only one adult has managed to pull off the 'grown up in the back of a large open car look' and that person I'm afraid was Hitler.

But most most puzzling of all. The number one mystery that daily tortures my enquiring mind as I travel the glorious highways on a hot sun-kissed day with an enthusiasts eye is...

Why in Christing Fuck have you got the Cunting roof up? Twat! What type of fucking weather are you waiting for?

11 July, 2006

Move over Clarkson

According to CNN car companies have begun working to influence "consumer buzz" on the Internet by releasing "unauthorized" photos of cars ahead of their official introductions.

Market research companies can track photos using embedded metadata. Car manufacturers can see if leaked images are finding their way to the desired audiences and comments posted about the images can be tracked.

Some car companies are also directly reaching out to frequent Internet posters, even lending test vehicles to them as they do to professional automotive journalists according to Bradley Silver, CEO of Brandimensions.

If you're reading this Mr di Montezemolo, I prefer silver or blue to the more obvious red - but if you're pushed I understand. Just park it next to to the Ford GT.


09 July, 2006


08 July, 2006


Not Photoshopped (I was awaiting an update)

05 July, 2006

Motoring apparel

A lot of people ask me, "Driverchris, what's the best thing to wear in the car", I usually reply that a simple choker or some classic small diamond stud earings will set of the latex nicely and can you please hurry it up it's getting hot in these things.

But I digress. The main thing is to be comfortable. For some people that means light, breathable natural fibres. For others it's stripping naked on garage forecourts late at night.

Oh yes, if you have children or drunk exhibitionist friends (it's amazing how one can lead to the other) you'll be wanting to spec a leather interior next time.