Driving Fun

I have frequently referred to Jeremy Clarkson as the Greatest Living Englishman, because he is.  Not only is he unrepentantly un-PC, he’s wonderfully talented as both a writer and a TV presenter.

The fact that he and I agree on practically everything — about cars, politics, social life and society, whatever — doesn’t hurt, either.

So sit back and enjoy a partial retrospective of his 30 years’ work as a car reviewer for the Sunday Times.  And just to whet your appetite, here’s a little excerpt from one:

Many years ago I refused to road-test the Vectra on Top Gear, arguing that if Vauxhall couldn’t be bothered to make the car interesting in any way whatsoever, I couldn’t be bothered to drive it.

To understand just how dull this car was, you need to visualise a chartered accountant in a tweed jacket with elbow patches, playing cricket, in a period drama by Jane Austen, in Belgium, while reading out details of the Enron scandal in a Birmingham accent.

This car was Mogadon in metal, hypnotherapy with a hatchback. Driving it was as interesting as listening to the details of someone else’s dream, and thinking about it had exactly the same effect on your neck muscles as that moment at school when the master dimmed the lights and said: “First slide, please …” You immediately nodded off.

They said, remember, it was a car for the new millennium. And how far did it get? Well, it’s only 2002 but already it’s gone.

I can’t stop with just one.

I have read hundreds of surveys in women’s magazines about what women look for in a man and usually it’s a sense of humour or nice eyes. Not once have I ever heard a girl say that what she wants, more than anything, from a man is an ability to do power slides.

It needs to be explained to Gary that, when he’s doing 100mph round the bypass, with jungle noises bouncing the doors off their hinges, his girlfriend is not sitting there thinking, “Gosh. This man’s car control is exemplary and I hope that later he will perform similar miracles with me.”

She is thinking: “Bleedin’ Ada. We’re going to crash and I wish this plonker would slow down.” But of course she can’t say that because then she’d find herself at the side of the road, in the rain.

We need the people who did those amazing Australian “If you drink and drive, you’re a bloody idiot” adverts to pick up the baton on this one. And I think I have the tag line already. “A smooth ride: if you give her one, she might let you give her one.”

Brilliant.  Like I said:  the Greatest Living Englishman.  Here’s his smooth ride.

Different List

The Daily Mail  has published its list of the Top 39 (?) Beautiful Moments of the last one hundred years.  Of course, a lot of the things they celebrate are among the events I’d have added to my list of the worst moments in the past century (e.g. election of Obama), but there ya go.

Here’s my list of beautiful moments (since Jan 1, 1923, in chronological order).

  1. 1923: Calvin Coolidge inaugurated
  2. 1940: Battle of Britain
  3. 1945:  VE- and VJ Day
  4. 1947: AK-47 first submitted for USSR military trials
  5. 1963: getting my first air rifle (birthday present)
  6. 1964: Beatles release A Hard Day’s Night  album
  7. 1967: Beatles release Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band  album
  8. 1968: first Shakespearean acting gig (in Hamlet)
  9. 1968: French-kissed a girl for the first time
  10. 1969: Moon landing with Neil Armstrong / Buzz Aldrin
  11. 1970: bought my first beer (age 15, Castle Inn, Hillbrow, Jhb)
  12. 1971: lost my virginity
  13. 1971: first played on stage to an audience (rhythm guitar)
  14. 1971: member of team competing on S.A. schools’ radio quiz (we won)
  15. 1971: graduated St. John’s College (First)
  16. 1972: arrested during anti-apartheid demonstration
  17. 1972: bought my first two centerfire guns (Mauser 98K, Llama XI 9mm pistol)
  18. 1973: first professional music gig
  19. 1974: co-founded Pussyfoot Show Band (later Atlantic Show Band)
  20. 1976: bought a Rickenbacker 4001S bass guitar
  21. 1979: first apartment (solo)
  22. 1979: joined A.C. Nielsen
  23. 1980: Ronald Reagan elected
  24. 1980: Borg-McEnroe Wimbledon final
  25. 1981: Hill Street Blues first episode aired
  26. 1981: slept with four different women over a single weekend
  27. 1982: first marriage
  28. 1982: visited America for the first time
  29. 1983: first extramarital fling
  30. 1984: first presentation to the Board of a major client
  31. 1985: bought my first computer (Apple IIe)
  32. 1986: emigrated to America
  33. 1989: Berlin Wall came down
  34. 1989: birth of the Son&Heir
  35. 1997: my first trip to London
  36. 1999: published my first novel (Vienna Days)
  37. 2015: B.A. degree (summa ) in Western European History (UNT)
  38. 2016: Donald Trump elected
  39. 2017: met New Wife again, after over 40 years apart

Ten Things That Make Me Proud To Be American

Inspired by the Brit list, here is mine.

In drawing up my list, I hearkened back to my travels outside the U.S., and asked myself:  what were the things I missed most whilst Over There, and what were the things I was glad to have or see when I returned?

My Top Ten (in order):

  1. the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
  2. the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
  3. the notion that what isn’t expressly forbidden, is allowed
  4. checks and balances on government
  5. the freedom to succeed or to screw up (and then to try again)
  6. a jillion TV channels
  7. huge pickup trucks
  8. restaurant- and other choices
  9. rodeos
  10. interstate highways

The first five on the list are self-evident, especially as they are almost universally absent from foreign countries;  and I’ll talk about that in yet another post because it deserves a longer exposition.

The last five points are personal, but important.

Only when your TV is confined to a few (usually State-controlled) channels do you realize how nice it is to have a choice — even among dreck.

Large pickup trucks are lovely — they are powerful, not really necessary (unless you’re pulling a large trailer or farming) and one of the things that tourists comment on the most.  And the fact that pickup trucks are by far the most popular choice among ordinary Americans says it all.

Drive along a non-U.S. highway with a gnawing hunger and see how hard it is to find a restaurant of any description along the way.  Granted, our choices are often only from the Usual Suspects (the top 30 chains), but at least there’s a choice.  In Yurp, you often have to go into a town to buy food, which is okay if you’re a tourist, but it must suck if you’re a local.

Nothing says “America” like a damn rodeo:  tough people doing a dangerous thing for fun.

It’s only when you’re trying to get from point A to point B without having to go through C, D and E that you appreciate the freedom associated with our highways.  Now, as  rule I myself try to avoid the stupid things as much as possible;  but when you need one, it’s there for you to use.

Conspicuously absent from my list are things that are uniquely American, but that don’t touch me:  the Grand Canyon, the Empire State Building, Broadway shows, the Rocky Mountains, etc. etc.  Landscape features are just things — the Grand Canyon is a large hole in the ground, the Hoover Dam is a chuck of concrete, every country has a Broadway, the Alps are just as stunning as the Rockies, and so on.

But a busy shooting range and gun show (see point #1) are so much more American than anything one may find elsewhere, and ditto all the other related stuff in each point.

Proud To Be Murkin

So, prompted by this silly survey which asked Brits what made them proud to be British, I ask of my Readers:  what makes you proud to be an American?  (If you need any kind of inspiration, follow the link to see what kinds of things the Brits suggested.)

For once, by the way, I’d urge you all to shed your (well-founded) gloom and pessimism about the current state of affairs under Biden and his bunch of filthy Commies, and think of the good stuff — and there’s lots, let me assure you.

Keep your list to the top 10, unless you can’t.  My own list will appear tomorrow.

Don’t Mess With East Texas

While not a Righteous Shooting (an ordinary citizen wasting a goblin), this shooting is certainly righteous.

Executive summary:  Scumbag waves a gun in a woman’s face as she’s sitting in her car.  She calls her husband and the cops.  Cops arrive, find said scumbag who points the gun at them, whereupon they shoot his ass dead, tra-la, tra-la.

I know that part of East Texas quite well.  This is not a population you would want to mess with.  As the goblin discovered.