Friday, 2 December 2011

track record

The most surprising thing about Jeremy Clarkson’s ‘shoot the strikers’ comment on the BBC One Show is that people were surprised that he made it. Clarkson, who has a new DVD to promote, has developed his own niche market in this sort of thing. Any regular viewer of Top Gear or reader of his newspaper columns knows this is how Clarkson makes his not inconsiderable dosh. A casual racial stereotype here, a quip about murdering prostitutes there, pepper his reviews of the latest hatchback or four wheel drive.

What has received little attention was a comment Clarkson made later in the show. He apparently made a joke about people committing suicide on the railways. I say apparently because I couldn’t find a transcript or video clip and the Beeb has pulled the edition of The One Show from iPlayer. The joke was referred to in the BBC news report on the programme and several newspapers have summarised the comment, though none gives a direct quote. Here’s The Guardian’s reference:
Clarkson went on to shock viewers by saying trains should not stop for people who have committed suicide by throwing themselves onto the rails.
Well it’s just Jezza being Jezza isn’t it and no doubt he and his mates Hammond and May will have a snigger about the whole incident next time they meet up at the license fee payers’ expense to do their boy racer shtick.

Unfortunately, I am no longer surprised when I receive a text or email from a parishioner apologising that they will be late or miss a church meeting because of a suicide on the railway line. At the moment it is an almost weekly occurrence. I find myself wondering how desperate someone must have been to throw themselves under a train. I pray for their family, if they have one; I pray for the driver of the train and for the emergency services called to attend the scene of the incident.

I can’t help but think it might do Mr Clarkson some good to attend one of these incidents with the public sector workers who have to do their work in these situations: the police; the fire brigade; the paramedics; the ambulance crew. The same people he jokes about in these terms:
Frankly, I'd have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families. I mean, how dare they go on strike when they have these gilt-edged pensions that are going to be guaranteed while the rest of us have to work for a living?
Who knows, one day Jezza may find himself in an accident and in need of the people he quips about executing. I hope they don’t treat him as a joke.


St said...

I always like the idea of posts such as this but then remember the wonderful, endorphine-producing glory of situation-defusing humour. You may not find Clarkson funny. In fact you can choose not to and grit your teeth when he is trying. Or you can just role with it. I often laugh at things which, in the cold light of day, aren't funny. I think that, usually, Clarkson's facial expression gives the game away. I am suspicious of any group that fails to work out how to laugh, with others, at itself. Not for nothing does the Bible exhort people to be 'slow to anger.'

Philip Ritchie said...

'I am suspicious of any group that fails to work out how to laugh, with others, at itself.'

I find nothing to laugh about when it comes to railway suicides and sadly those who take their own lives aren't around to laugh at themselves either. Nor do I find it funny to diminish the work of those tasked with dealing with the aftermath. That's the focus of my post not Clarkson's playground banter about strikes.

MagsB said...

Of course Clarkson doesn't consider for one instance the terrible effect that railway suicides have on the driver, the paramedics, the family, etc. This is because he is a Professional Prat.

He does it a-purpose, ST, and I agree with you that we should be slow to anger. But we should be fast to express our contempt, don't you think?

(Here via Archdruid Eileen, btw)

love, MagsB x

MagsB said...

*Instant* not 'instance.' D'oh!