So the leaks from the BBC now suggest – as many might have predicted – that Jeremy Clarkson may get to carry on presenting Top Gear for the BBC, provided he ‘sorts himself out’. When all’s said and done it’s only a television programme and while I’ve watched it for years, it’s not real life and my own life won’t be poorer for its loss; just like the Six Nations Super Saturday, disappointment at England’s triumphant winning-but-still-losing climax yesterday evening was a thing of the moment and today we begin anew.
The Daily Mail reports, of Clarkson: “Jeremy wants to stay with the programme and one possible way of him doing that would be if he could face up to his own shortcomings.” And he “…needs to rest and sort himself out.” Lurking in the background of all this is, of course, the spectre of ‘rehab’, but if Jeremy Clarkson, of all people, succumbs to pressure to be ‘Prioried’ then it really is the end. Going into rehabilitation is the last resource of those hopelessly unable to control their urges; it’s the desperate act of frail mentalities brought low by something they crave.
And one of the most destructive cravings the modern world has to offer is the belief that you can offload your own responsibility for your actions onto the shoulders of others… for money. Like priests selling indulgences, mediums offering to contact the dead or lower level mountebankery such as astrology and palmistry, there is something in some people’s empty lives that turns them to extra-corporeal assistance in dealing with the everyday business of getting through every day. (I suspect soaps, trash-TV, ‘reality’ shows and Bake-Off perform much the same function.)
I’m not suggesting a wholesale turning back of the clock to a mythical time of pastoral ‘bliss’ where most waking hours were spent in the Sisyphean struggle for survival, but hasn’t the pendulum swung rather far the other way? To some people the most important things in their lives, apparently, are social media, smart phones, games, online communities and the acquisition of stuff. And while they do live within families, often the other players in their game of life appear as ghosts, icons, cyphers and – in the case of parents – servants, just a cast list of bit-parts, rather than a true ensemble piece.
May, Clarkson and The Hamster... on a quest!
Now, some say a spell in rehab is like an extended bath in the magical fountain of eternal youth. And that entering through the portals of the Priory is like embarking on the modern-day Labours of Hercules, emerging from which you will be a happier and stronger self. All I know is that expecting strangers to sort out your personal shit is an addiction all of its own. And on that bombshell…
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