Look At It This Way - March 13, 2015

Jeremy Clarkson leaves his home in London, as he laughed off his latest controversy telling reporters he was "just off to the job centre" after the BBC suspended him following a row with a Top Gear producer. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday March 11, 2015. The star was suspended following what the BBC said was "a fracas" with producer Oisin Tymon. Speaking outside his London home, he joked: "I've been suspended haven't I? I'm just off to the job centre."  See PA story SHOWBIZ Clarkson. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Jeremy Clarkson leaves his home in London, as he laughed off his latest controversy telling reporters he was "just off to the job centre" after the BBC suspended him following a row with a Top Gear producer. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday March 11, 2015. The star was suspended following what the BBC said was "a fracas" with producer Oisin Tymon. Speaking outside his London home, he joked: "I've been suspended haven't I? I'm just off to the job centre." See PA story SHOWBIZ Clarkson. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
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There are two things I love in life. Characters and cars. Stick them together and the craic is cracking.

And what I quite like about Jeremy Clarkson is he can go from nought to naughty, or nasty, in about the time it would take me to hit reverse at first sight of an empty space in Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s multi-storey car park.

That’s fast, by the way, none of this edging back and forth like a bumper car doing the parking equivalent of a 30 point turn. I’ll leave that to the old gents with the sticky out ears and flat caps – and parking sensors on cars twice the size they should be and driven at half the pace their engines require.

All’s fair in love, war and the Vic’s car park at visiting time – especially if you time it for when they’re putting the yellow discount stickers on the M&S stuff in that airport terminal-like main reception area. Saw a chap in Asda woven check pyjamas doing his shopping there the other evening.

Didn’t have the nerve to tell him that more than his ‘George’ label was showing – it put me off the chipolatas. And it’s a long walk back to the wards. Fortunately he got a lift back in a wheelchair and covered his blushes with a tub of hummus and three of his five a day.

I half expect to find Jeremy Clarkson test driving mobility scooters in years to come – on some TV yesteryear channel a bit like ‘Dave’ which incessantly features Top Gear repeats although luckily none as old as the earliest episodes featuring Noel Edmonds. That’s just wrong.

It’s like finding Mr Blobby in the back of the pink limo for a love tryst with Lady Penelope and Parker… although at least Blobby’s skin tones would blend in if they parked up for a discreet canoodle.

Would there be life after the BBC if they gave Clarkson the boot? You betcha. He’d walk straight into the clutches (yes I can keep these car puns running) of the Other side. In years to come we could find him doing a Victor Meldrew like rant about traffic jams as he glares belligerently at the HS2 zipping from Old Oak Common to Brum alongside.

Or he could make car advertising a little more – well – about cars rather than skidding about on ice, or leaving trails of brightly coloured graffiti on public buildings, or being chased by strangely lascivious looking floppy dolls which look like they’ve tripped out of an X rated episode of James May’s Toys series in which Chucky challenges Ken to a race in Barbie’s ’96 Hot Drive N Sports Car red convertible.

Or the Beeb could do the decent thing and substitute Clarkson for Brian the Confused.com robot flogging car insurance – and stick his ego on the car mashing conveyor belt to be crushed to oblivion before help arrives in the form of a 500,000 (at the last count and rising) name petition calling for him to stay.

You can’t blame the BBC for being sensitive. Jezza was on his third warning after several offensive gaffes preceded what may or may not have been a ‘fracas’. That’s somewhere between ruckus and affray, but not quite brouhaha enough to be laughed off.

Today’s broadcasters are rightly on a tighter leash. History has taught chiefs the folly of looking away when one steps out of line. It’s all about driving standards up.

But against my better judgement I rather hope Clarkson stays.

He’s the only one capable of holding that trio together. The others may front their Toys series or the truly dire Total Wipe Out but it’s no match for the wit if not wisdom of Mr C.

I find him anachronistic and often offensive – but like a souped-up Alf Garnett given the run of life in the fast lane he’s a caricature and should be seen as such. He’s engaging even if he forgets to engage brain before opening mouth.

He’s the sort of fella you’d find in a newsroom 20-30 years ago arranging to meet up over a jar early doors with some Ashes to Ashes cop from the old canteen culture days. They got the best assignments – and the best looking women.

When Clarkson left Top Gear in 1999 the audience for the show halved.

He may talk the talk and walk the walk but he actually delivers some really insightful verdicts on cars – if you like that sort of thing. And I do.

I may drive a Nissan Note but I’ve the heart of a Jaguar (ideally the new compact XE) since denting a 1972 powder blue 4.2 Jaguar as my very first car at 20something.

See, it’s not just men who are all ‘torque’ and trousers.

U-boat captain ‘truly sunk’

“I was fast asleep on my submarine when the Customs men boarded and arrested me.”

There are some quotes you really don’t expect to read in this day and age.

It came from self styled U-boat captain Richard Williams (pictured), of North Shore, after HMRC mounted a ‘take VAT’ style raid upon his converted narrow boat in the early hours moored outside the Royal Armouries, Leeds.

You really couldn’t make it up. The investigation established that Williams had illegally netted well over £1m on false VAT returns – a truly elaborate four year scam involving non-existent sales and even hiring people to work in phoney call centres to add credence to the operation.

To add insult injury he even drove a Mercedes with the number plate VAT 100.

Short of sticking little taxmen on the side every time he successfully torpedoed a VAT bill it couldn’t have been more obvious.

You could say he’s finally been given Das Boot. Either way, he’s well and truly sunk.