SARAH VINE: Jeremy Clarkson is a ghastly dinosaur and what he wrote about Meghan was completely unacceptable, but don’t let the Sussexes cancel him
Fair to say, I think, that Jeremy Clarkson is not everyone’s cup of tea.
He’s rude, obnoxious and bigoted. He’s a dinosaur, a relic. He annoys everyone all of the time, and thoroughly delights in doing so. Or at least he used to.
This week saw a very different Clarkson, cowed and contrite, begging the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for forgiveness in a desperate bid to save his career. And while many will delight in his discomfort, I can’t bring myself to join them.
Don’t get me wrong: what he wrote about Meghan was completely unacceptable. Saying he was ‘dreaming of the day when she [Meghan] is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her’, was undoubtedly a bridge too far.
Fair to say, I think, that Jeremy Clarkson is not everyone’s cup of tea
This week saw a very different Clarkson, cowed and contrite, begging the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for forgiveness in a desperate bid to save his career
He was right to say sorry, as he did, soon after the article’s publication last month, and The Sun was absolutely right to take it down. There’s a fine line between strong meat and week-old offal, and that just stank.
But having apologised once, he should have left it at that.
Instead, he decided to grovel, writing on Instagram on Monday: ‘On Christmas morning, I emailed Harry and Meghan in California to apologise to them, too. I said . . . that the language I’d used in my column was disgraceful and that I was profoundly sorry.’
He added: ‘I really am sorry. All the way from the balls of my feet to the follicles on my head. This is me putting my hands up. It’s a mea culpa with bells on.’
You might have thought that would elicit some sort of sympathetic response from their graciousnesses in Montecito. After all, that is some pretty unequivocal bowing and scraping. But far from it.
Instead, they issued a snooty statement, doubling down on Clarkson and making it clear that sorry is just not good enough.
Having chastised him for mistakenly addressing his apology to ‘solely Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex’, they went on to add: ‘What remains to be addressed is his long-standing pattern of writing articles that spread hate rhetoric, dangerous conspiracy theories and misogyny . . . it’s clear this is not an isolated incident shared in haste but rather a series of articles shared in hate.’
Hang on a second. Hasn’t Harry himself made mistakes in the past (Nazi uniforms, racist language and so forth)? Surely he of all people should understand that one — if not more — error of judgment does not define a man . . . or a career.
He was right to say sorry, as he did, soon after the article’s publication last month, and The Sun was absolutely right to take it down. There’s a fine line between strong meat and week-old offal, and that just stank
But then that’s not what this is really about, is it? It’s not about someone who has made a bad mistake apologising to those offended and everyone moving on in the hope of doing better. It’s about cancel culture and a seemingly insatiable need for revenge.
Amazon, which shows the wildly popular Clarkson’s Farm and his Grand Tour series is said to be cutting ties with him. ITV has hinted he might be dropped from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
Let’s face it, Harry and Meghan won’t be happy until Clarkson is living in a cardboard box under a bridge, being spat on by passers-by. He could crawl through Montecito on his knees begging for forgiveness and still it wouldn’t be enough.
They give the impression that nothing short of his complete defenestration will satisfy their hunger to see him thoroughly humiliated. Which, in the context of the original insult, is somewhat ironic.
They don’t want an apology; they want more. Just as the apology demanded by Harry from his family for their treatment of Meghan wouldn’t satisfy them.
Harry talks about saving the royals ‘from themselves’. But that’s nonsense. He is engaged in a much more ambitious endeavour: he wants to burn down the House of Windsor and build it back in his own image.
Likewise the British Press, the only thing that Harry perhaps has it in for more than his own family. Again, he won’t be satisfied until the only person allowed to voice an opinion about him or his wife is fawning biographer Omid Scobie.
That’s why, as wrong as Clarkson was, as annoying as he is, it would be a disaster if the Sussexes succeed in cancelling him. Because a world in which irreverence towards a group of self-appointed moral arbiters is punished with the modern equivalent of the guillotine is not a world in which most people wish to live.
For most of us, Five Guys is a takeaway. For Carol Vorderman, who’s said she has five ‘special friends’, it’s just another month in her busy love life. Good on her. If she can still get all those men pursuing her, why not?
Rishi Sunak showed courage in blocking Scotland’s Gender self-ID law, which had the potential to challenge women’s rights to single-sex spaces such as changing rooms and loos. Yet the Government plans to ban all forms of conversion therapy, sparking fears it will be illegal to question a person’s sexuality or gender identity. This could make it difficult for a parent to question their child’s desire to alter gender — a process that can lead to irreversible changes.
I wouldn’t want anyone to suffer the pain of being denied their sexuality or identity; but given the numbers of young people who regret transitioning, is this course of action wise?
NO LACE PLEASE, MARGOT
Margot Robbie — one of the most beautiful actresses of her generation — looked stunning in a vintage Versace gown at the Sydney premiere of her new movie, Babylon, on Monday. What I can’t understand, though, is why she added that blood-red lace trim to it? The original dress, from SS’95, looked much better without it. Or am I missing some deeply meaningful subliminal message?
Margot Robbie — one of the most beautiful actresses of her generation — looked stunning in a vintage Versace gown at the Sydney premiere of her new movie, Babylon, on Monday
Bottom of the class
I’m sorry, but I think it’s disgusting that teachers are going on strike. Clearly they feel no duty towards a generation of children who have already had their chance of a decent education torpedoed by lockdown.
Teaching is meant to be a vocation. No one goes into it to get rich, and teachers already have a generous pension, holidays most can only dream of — and last year got a pay rise of more than five per cent, with the Government committing to raising starting salaries to £30,000 by 2024.
The same, I’m afraid, goes for the university lecturers, who have an even cushier existence, only they get to strike at the expense of students saddling themselves with thousands of pounds of debt for the privilege. Disgraceful.
For Italians, the Gina Lollobrigida (may she rest in peace) vs Sophia Loren thing was a bit like The Beatles vs the Rolling Stones. You were either one or the other. And, as fabulous as La Lollo was, I must confess I’ve always adored Loren for the simple fact that she once said: ‘Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.’ Very definitely a woman after my own heart.
For Italians, the Gina Lollobrigida (may she rest in peace) vs Sophia Loren thing was a bit like The Beatles vs the Rolling Stones. You were either one or the other
It is bad enough that Scott Mills has replaced Steve Wright on Radio 2; now Ken Bruce — the heart and soul of the station — is leaving. He’s the latest in a huge roster of stars — from Jane Garvey and Eddie Mair to Andrew Marr and Jenni Murray — to abandon the BBC. What do they all have in common? They’re all over 50 and actually know how to do their jobs.
I wonder how Prince Harry feels about the fact that the Iranian regime has used his claim that he killed 25 insurgents in Afghanistan to justify the alleged torture and execution of Alireza Akbari, a UK national. Or is he too busy counting the money from sales of his memoir to care?
You’ve heard about cultural appropriation; the latest thing, my daughter informs me, is blonde appropriation. This is people who dye their hair blonde. Apparently, it’s a micro-aggression. I don’t understand anything any more.
Madonna’s tacky truth or dare
Madonna has announced a new world tour — her 40th anniversary — by releasing quite the most bizarre video you will ever see.
Featuring a motley selection of musicians and celebrities, including comic Amy Schumer and actor Jack Black, it takes the form of a game of truth or dare, in which Madonna asks each of her guests to perform the kind of pointlessly obscene act that only a 16-year-old boy would dream up. One has to dip his undercarriage in his drink before downing it; another has to simulate oral sex using a bottle. And no, I am not making this up.
Madonna has announced a new world tour — her 40th anniversary — by releasing quite the most bizarre video you will ever see
I’m sure the idea is to give the impression that, even at 64, the Grandmother of Pop is as edgy as she ever was; but I’m afraid it just comes across as . . . well, a bit creepy and embarrassing.
Not to mention rather boring. I think I’ll give the tour a miss.
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