CLAXO - The Review
This is not a review that Claxo himself would wish to acknowledge. Many would say it's not a PROPER review at all. In fact the task of reviewing was set for me as as a challenge by a friend of mine, who should have known a lot better. However, it's the best he's going to get from me, and is a lot more than the great man deserves.
How Hard Can It Be? * Jeremy Clarkson * Penguin * 332pp * £7.99
When I picked this book up, after delaying the experience as long as I could, my first reaction was slight surprise to see that it was the fourth volume in a series called 'The World According to Clarkson'. By the time I'd read a few of the entries (which had started life as Sunday Times columns) this slight surprise had changed to sheer amazement. How can people want to read so much of this stuff?
Apparently, they can. The columns have titles like 'Ruck off, you nancy Aussies', 'Into the breach, normal people, and sod the polar bears' and 'Call me a spoilsport but I'm glad my dad wasn't a lesbian.' Along the way we learn that Bob Dylan is Clarkson's 2057th favourite recording artist just behind Pinky and Perky, that business men at leisure on trips abroad who tuck their polo shirts into their trousers will look like Americans, that trouser-suits are the international dress of terminally dull women and that soon we'll be able to turn on the TV to see Jeremy Paxman in clown shoes refereeing political debates settled by mud wrestling. You get the picture.
Jeremy Clarkson has a genuine sense of humour. The trouble is it's the same sense of humour we find throughout this volume. Imagine variations of the same joke appearing several times on all 332 pages. That's the impression I need to convey.
My worst nightmare is to board a train and find myself sharing a carriage with Claxo writing his column. He might be keen to try out his jokes on me. Actually, he probably wouldn't. Instead, he'd be tapping in morose silence on his laptop. Even Clarkson the man must want a rest from Clarkson the image sometimes. But just supposing he did want to speak. One of us would be sure to go out of the carriage window. This would probably be me, because the back cover of this book identifies Clarkson as 'the tallest person working in British television'.
I have a confession to make. I couldn't stomach this entire book. Normally, I make it a point of honour to read the whole of anything I'm reviewing. The reviewer has a duty to try to understand what the writer is trying to say. But all Clarkson is saying is, 'Look at me. Aren't I an outrageous character?' Yes Jeremy, you are. You work very hard at it. Now go away.