Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Jeremy Clarkson Book of Happy Endings

Unlike Wales, plain women and his BBC paymasters, I like Jeremy Clarkson. The obsession with motor cars and himself does not move me, but I enjoy his unmasking of lettuce and willingness to wander around in public looking like Jeremy Clarkson. His facial tributes to John Carpenter's The Thing (mid-transformation) never cease to please.

News that he had taken his first wife as a mistress - a lady who must be an echoing cavern of self-loathing - ushers him into the Alan Clark Waiting-Room of Caddish Eminence. The time has come to drop the sports jacket and jeans for a gap between the front teeth, trim 'tache, cravat, blazer and personal tankard behind the bar of a country pub near Maidenhead - where they call him "Major" and keep a room upstairs in case the Jaaaaaaaaaaag breaks down and he needs to comfort his secretary.

Jeremy also puts me in mind of a niche Christmas gift market for unpopular men that has not yet been skewered by the axis of socks and cologne. I call it "The Jeremy Clarkson Book of Happy Endings".

The target buyer is a recently-divorced woman. She has the house and most of the money, but there's one thing she can't take from the noisome octopus to whom she was lately wed - his puerility. And divorce gives him the chance to rediscover it.

He's already kitting out his batchelor hutch with all the apparel of midlife adolescence:

  • a water sofa-bed
  • a fridge with easily-distinguishable bacon and lager sections
  • a PC with patent "Plasterer's Radio" self-degumming monitor
  • a compact recording studio, still in its box, and, above all,
  • a giant flatscreen HD television on which to wallow in the films of yesteryear.

What he least expects is such an apparently-thoughtful gift as "The Jeremy Clarkson Book of Happy Endings" from his ex-wife. This bangs all the right gongs:

  • It look like a Ladybird book, evoking teary memories of childish thumbing through the "Kings & Queens of England" in search of good beheadings
  • It is endorsed by Jeremy, which guarantees wit as dry as a Martian Martini, and
  • "Happy Endings" reminds him of something that happened to Mike on a golfing holiday in Bangkok, which would have been alright if the girl in question hadn't turned out to have been a chap.

Plus the fact it's a book means that, alongside his car manual and bound volumes of Viz, he now has a library.

And so he settles down in the director's chair with his feet up on the boxed set of Japanese import "Wacky Races" DVDs and opens "Clarkson". On the right-hand page he sees a picture of a Turkish gangster shooting up a seraglio. Excellent. On the left he reads the following text:

Kevin Spacey is Keyser Söze in "The Usual Suspects".

The nightmare begins. The picture lured him in, then the words delivered the coup de grace. Before he can cover his eyes, the film is ruined. But he cannot stop. Jeremy beckons. In misery he turns the page. A sweaty man in a baseball cap stares at him.

Soylent Green is people!

He blinks back the tears as his fingers flick across to the wheaten features of a brown-suited child, receding down a Georgetown sidestreet.

The psychiatrist is dead. Obvious since the scene with his wife in the church, when you think about it.

On he goes, through the wreckage of his film archive. Merry is the widow, for she has understood and overcome a fundamental male survival technique.

Men have no long-term memory. That's why we compile lists - not only because we believe in wasting time better spent shoe-shopping or listening to women, but because otherwise we'd forgot your names and where the kids' schools are.

This is a true blessing, and proof of the existence of a genial and thoroughly clubbable God. It means that we rarely reflect upon the essential shallowness of our own existence, have no problems with enjoying football and will, after a shandy, chat up your sister at a christening once again.

It also explains why we watch the same films over and over. I for one can never remember that Stapleton's sister is in fact his wife, despite the mundanity of such arrangements back in Wales, and therefore approach each reading/viewing of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" with a lamb-like skip.

Women, on the other hand, need to know. This is why they read the last page of a book first, to assure themselves that it is worth reading. This is also why they ask what men are thinking all the time. Men, like my near namesake in "Under Milk Wood", are either thinking of wet corsets or nothing.

And so the divorcé looks forward to evening after curry-stoked evening in his celluloid back catalogue, with the flicker of the cathode reflecting his rapt gaze of amazement as the Mafia and entire US Government kill JFK from all possible angles, some gunman takes out Carter on a charcoal Geordie beach, and the Christian copper dies at the setting of the pagan Summerisle Sun.

"The Clarkson Book of Happy Endings" is the ex-wife's silent revenge, for her former spouse can't stop reading on despite the horrors it holds. Men are all addicts, and if it's bad for them they just can't stop. His meagre interior life dissolves in each acid page, but forward he goes like Scott of the Unconscious, snivelling "Why Jeremy, Why?", until the last page.

There Edgar Allan Poe meets his red-rimmed stare, holding a rubber mask in his ivory hands.

And you would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for those meddling kids.

It's "The King in Yellow" for this post-decadent century. Buy it now ladies, and our world is yours.

"Pa vo beuzet Paris, Ec'h adsavo Ker Is."


Gadjo Dilo said...

You're right about film endings - though, conversely, I think Brit guys still find comfort in an occasional WWII film as that's really the only ending we remember with certainty. Clarko is bigger than God in this part of the world, and now his ex-missus has compared him and her to Charles 'n' Camilla, I fancy next time he comes he'll be offered the throne, a la Albania / C. B. Fry.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Your pen picture of my dear departed Harold was uncannily accurate. I shall purchase a copy and make it the centrepiece of a shrine to him in the back bar of the Plug & Socket.

No Good Boyo said...

Wise words, Gadjo. The idea of hawking clapped out British TV celebs to Balkan pisspots has the makings of an new and even more amusing set of diplomatic crises.

"King Gjeremi of Albania today further elaborated on his condemnation of Queen Esther of Macedonia as a 'nosebagging tent-model'...".

I miss those grim-Brit war films now that I have to work in the daytime. Despite its lefty pretensions, CH4 was choc full of John Mills of an afternoon.

Kerr-ching, Daphne! Your virtual copy is in the post.

Gorilla Bananas said...

A proper bloke's movie isn't spoiled if you know the ending, though. The Italian Job - they get the gold but they don't. Doesn't matter when you can look forward to Italians being humiliated in their home patch by a bunch of cheeky cockneys.

No Good Boyo said...

I have to disagree there, GB. Statistics have shown that 48% of all pub conversations address the question of whether they get away with it or not in The Italian Job.

That is why page 17-18 of The Jeremy Clarkson Book of Happy Endings shows a coach hanging off the Dolomites with the legend "They don't get away with it. Twenty years a piece in Regina Coeli".

Sauti Ndogo said...

C.B. Fry, then Norman Wisdom, then Samantha Fox, now Jeremy Clarkson. The quality of the Balkans' favourite Brit has declined over the past 90 years.

No Good Boyo said...

There's a thesis there, Sauti. Fry and, arguably, Wisdom were the peak of a convex cycle that began at the bottom with the Ottomans, improved slightly with mad Holstein princelings and then slumped to Jeremy via Samantha.

Are Botham and Boycott busy these days?

looby said...

Can I have a bit of help with the Breton?

No Good Boyo said...

Certainly, Looby. It's from a legend about the sunken city of Ys, which will rise again when Paris is no more. The chap who wrote the King in Yellow wove references to the myth into his work. It has a nice vengeful feel.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

May I just point out that Gadjo, as the name indicates, lives in Romania not Albania. Clarkson's popularity in those parts obviously derives from his description of the Ceaucescu Freeway as the best road in the world. His ridiculous impersonation of a gypsy in the same episode, by wearing an ill-fitting pork pie hat, no doubt helped.

No Good Boyo said...

I was impressed by Transylvania's roads, showing as they do a peculiarly Romanian disregard for gravity and boring old trees. The road sign for the Borgo Pass gladdens the almost human heart.

Ian Plenderleith said...

I wish that I really did enjoy watching football, but that stopped years ago. Instead, I just watch it. I don't know why. I think it's because I haven't worked out yet how not to watch it, and I doubt that I ever will.

No Good Boyo said...

Your an addict, Pop. You convince yourself that if you hang on a little longer your luck will change and something interesting will happen.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Long term memory is a myth invented by the ladies, who have all their lives neatly cataloged in these tidy multi-colored-inked diaries with pink covers.

So there.

No Good Boyo said...

It's true, Snoop. I don't even know why I suddenly have a sock drawer, let alone what's in it.