Thursday, July 13, 2006

Get Your Snobbery Right

Arrogance and a haughty attitude are what we have come to expect from Jeremy Clarkson. Sadly, his sneering tone has now adopted that terrible fashion of the English middle-classes - outright, hypocritical hatred of America. I say hypocritical, because far too many of the criticisms of America made by Brits would be seized upon as insufferable, intolerable American arrogance if the two positions were reversed.

Jeremy Clarkson's article in the Sunday Times this weekend proved nothing except for the fact that he is a bilious, hate-filled man, and that he must walk around England with his eyes closed.

And I really don’t like the way that every small town looks exactly the same as every other small town. Palmdale in California and Biloxi in Mississippi are nigh on identical. They have the same horrible restaurants. The same mall. The same interstate drone. Live in either for more than a week and you’d be stabbing your own eyes with knitting needles.

I wonder when Clarkson visited an English small town for the last time? If he did happen to stroll around the town centre, I reckon we could all have a fair stab at what he would see. A Pizza Hut, and/or a Pizza Express, probably. WHSmith would undoubtedly be the biggest newsagent. If he wanted music, a Virgin or an HMV wouldn't be too far away. Or a Marks and Spencers, a Debenhams, a Boots, a BHS, a Carphone Warehouse, a Waterstone's, a Borders, a Caffe Nero, a... well, you get the drift.

Indeed, it was an article in the Times itself a year or so ago that made the point most forceully. With a headline along the lines of "Are all British towns the same?", it had a photo of a typical high street. At first glance, I thought I recognised it as Oxford. Later, I realised I was wrong - it had all the right shops, but in the wrong order.

Do Brits seem to think it is all that terrible that Newbury and Darlington, Swindon and Cambridge, Middlesbrough and Derby are roughly interchangeable? Does living for more than a week in any one of them drive people to "stab their own eyes with knitting needles"? Of course not. But that doesn't stop Clarkson from indulging in the fashion of knocking the Americans. We might like to feel superior to our more powerful cousins across the pond, but it really isn't doing any good. It's like one of Clarkson's hated lard-arses pointing out other fatsos in the street, when if he looked in a mirror, he'd soon realise he needed to start exercising as much as those he criticses.