Jeremy Clarkson’s £10m testosterone fest

Jeremy Clarkson is guilty of committing the most cardinal of British sins.


Jeremy Clarkson: not entirely serious

If we believe the newspapers, Jeremy Clarkson, axed from the BBC's Top Gear this year, will earn £10m a year for the new show he is preparing for Amazon. Jeremy Paxman, writing about lunch with Clarkson in the Financial Times last weekend, mentioned he was seeing the famous petrolhead to two BBC producers beforehand: suddenly they turned into "a pair of spitting cobras" a reaction he found odd. Even if you don't like Clarkson, or cars, it's hard not to find some of his comments funny.

"Driving most supercars is like trying to manhandle a cow up a back staircase, but this [the Audi R8] is like smearing honey on Keira Knightley The Ferrari F355 is like a quail's egg dipped in celery salt and served in Julia Roberts's belly button Think of it [the Alfa Romeo Brera] as Angelina Jolie. You've heard she's mad and eats nothing but wallpaper paste.But you would, wouldn't you?"

Paxman says he couldn't tell any of these cars from a Toyota Prius, but he can tell the metaphors aren't entirely serious. "The problem is that too much of the media and the media class have no sense of humour." Clarkson, now 55, is beginning to feel what he calls "the onset of disintegration", creaky knees and so on, and his lifestyle is a heart surgeon's bad dream. "If I'm awake, I'm smoking."

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Perhaps the resentment he arouses is due to his committing to what Paxman calls "the cardinal British sin of being successful". Or maybe his real crime is being "too noisily male". Not that he cares: he, James May, Richard Hammond and producer Andy Wilman, along with their creaky joints, are busy preparing another testosterone fest: four middle-aged blokes, as Paxman says, who have "crossed from Old Telly to New Telly".

The PM's diet of celebrity gossip

Clarkson is an avid reader of Mail Online's Sidebar of Shame (despite claiming not to know who most of the people mentioned are). It's a habit he shares with David Cameron, according to Rachel Johnson in The Mail on Sunday: the PM admitted as much at a party last week.I suppose it's good to knowNo. 10 keeps abreast of celebrity gossip, though much of it is not very edifying.

This week, we learned that 20-year-old Lana Scolaro, one of the "Rich Kids of Instagram", thinks nothing of blowing $15,000 a month on luxury shoes, bags and clothes. She also has a penchant for Herms Birkin handbags, which cost thousands of pounds each. Her parents once bought her one for £30,000 after she got "good grades". The Rich Kids of Instagram, says the Daily Mail, are "a group of super-wealthy youngsters who post pictures of themselves doing things most of us can only dream of, such as flying in private jets".

Meanwhile, Alain de Botton in The Spectator puts a dampener on Christmas by saying that mostly the food is mediocre and the presents a "sickening reminder of materialism". Perhaps he's been reading too much Sidebar of Shame.

Tabloid money: King Coal will never return, but King Kindness should#

"It's so tricky finding Christmas presents for young people unless you throw in the towel and give them money," says Jennifer Selway in the Daily Express. Thanks to digitisation, the traditional stand-by of a DVD or CD is treated like "some unidentifiable agricultural implement from the 18th century". Watches have been made redundant by smartphones, which themselves come with "a contract that will lock you into a punitive tariff until the end of time". Of course, "when all else fails" there is the "sure-fire answer" of a pet, as "all teenagers want a puppy". However, the obvious downside of this is that you will have to look after it.

The papers are full of the exploits of Major Tim Peake, "only the fourth British person to join the 200-mile club and become an astronaut", says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun. But while I "enjoyed the spectacle of his little boy jumping up and down with glee as the mighty Soyuz spacecraft blasted off", I don't think it'll inspire a future generation of explorers, engineers or scientists among today's children. After all, "he's not living on the Starship Enterprise". Instead, the spaceship is "more like a grain silo with third-world grocery store lighting". And he needs to go to the toilet in a "vacuum cleaner tube". It's hardly inspiring: "no school child is going to decide to take up science because they want to spend their lives in a grain silo, upside down, watching moss".

The closure of Kellingley Colliery, the last working pit in the UK, will hit the 450 workers who worked there hard, says Kelvin MacKenzie in The Sun. The maximum redundancy payment is only £14,250. This might seem "pretty good", but the fact is that "after 30 years risking your health to keep us warm, it's nothing". Indeed, "many of these men aren't trained for anything else and, in any event, there's not much work around". The government should persuade major firms to invest in the area. While "King Coal will never return King Kindness should".