Jeremy Clarkson and the Waldorf Salad

Who wouldn’t be grumpy after a day of this on a 5/2 diet?


Remember "Waldorf Salad", the episode in Fawlty Towers in which an obnoxious American guest arrives just after 9pm wanting dinner? Sorry, says Fawlty. The kitchen's closed, how about a salad? The guest is furious. I'm tired, I'm hungry, I've driven all the way down "some back road called the M5", he says. I want a hot dinner. Finally, exasperated, he asks: "How much of this Mickey Mouse money do you need to keep the chef on?"

I know how he felt. Anyone who goes to hotels or restaurants in England knows how he felt. And since I suffer from food anxiety, I know it more than most. Not getting a hot dinner can make me seriously grumpy. Same with breakfast. Once, I was so fed up with waiting for breakfast in a Scottish seaside hotel that I walked into the kitchen and offered to cook the eggs myself.

So while I haven't as yet thrown a punch (as Jeremy Clarkson is alleged to have done, though as I write what actually happened is still unclear), and while the BBC may have felt it had no choice but to suspend him pending an investigation,I sympathise with the Top Gear presenter. I'm sure he didn't mince his words.

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He'd had a long hard day's filming, he'd clearly spent his two-hour helicopter ride to Yorkshire dreaming of a steak, and he's on a diet, too (a 5/2 diet, I gather), which won't have improved his mood.

No wonder he was grumpy when told all he could have was a cold cheese platter. "I haven't worked with Jeremy Clarkson," wrote an anonymous producer in The Times on Monday,"but from what I hear, he is no worse than most middle-aged male presenters.

On the night in question he was hungry and tired, which is a lethal combination; a good producer would have made sure there was a hot meal ready A TV crew, like an army, marches on its stomach."

As for Danny Cohen, the BBC's director of television, described by William Langley in The Sunday Telegraph as a leading light in the Beeb's "PC-crazed clique of metro-liberal zealots" and by Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail as "Desperate Dan" ("desperate" as in desperate to get rid of Clarkson): why, given that Top Gear earned the BBC more than £50m in overseas sales alone last year, didn't he ensure the Top Gear team were properly looked after on the road? At any other network, says Langley, "Clarkson would get a personal chef and a team of liveried servants".

Clarkson's mate and fellow Sunday Times columnist AA Gill was scathing about the decision to hold an inquiry a BBC producer rang him to say that if incidents like this on film and TV locations around the world were all reported in the press, "there would be no room for any other news".

Worst of all, though, says Gill and the most ridiculous overreaction was the decision to cancel the next three Top Gears. In reality, these don't belong to Clarkson or to the BBC: they belong to us, as BBC licence-payers. We've forked out for them already so it's not their money that's being wasted. It's ours.

Tabloid money: "just accept that you're born to be useless"

"But instead of choosing something suitable, such as a workers' caff, wealthy Emily picked a posh restaurant in her Islington constituency, which offers bottles of white burgundy Btard-Montrachet Grand Cru at £220 a pop. With the cross-dressing artist Grayson Perry due to attend and tickets at £95, I'm not sure how many white van' drivers will be there."

"Petra Ecclestone's fashion line, Stark, is £4.4m in the red four years after she started it with Daddy's money and zero business experience," says Carole Malone in the Sunday Mirror. "Why don't empty-headed rich girls like Petra fit for nothing other than navigating their way around the world's Chanel shops just accept that they were born to be useless. Why try to justify their existence with business ventures doomed to fail on account of the fact they're daft? Because the truth is a few more trips to Chanel and a few less forays into business would have ended up costing Bernie a lot less."

"A new report from the London School of Economics shows that the capital's richest people have emerged four times wealthier from the 2008 recession, while the poorest Londoners have been hit the hardest," says Brian Reade in the Daily Mirror. "As a large chunk of that quadrupled wealth has come from the value of their homes soaring ever upwards, can someone please explain what the moral objections to a Mansion Tax are?"