I'm a Jeremy Clarkson fan. There, I've said it....
I should probably pause here, to give the JC haters time to gather up their pitchforks and torches.
Game on. I'll meet you all at midnight in the graveyard of that old, abandoned church. Ah, no, hang on, that'd be classed as a non-essential journey. Maybe next time...
Any road, that being promised, I had no idea the man could see into the future. I know, amazing, or what? But he can.
Let me explain. For want of something to occupy my time during these dark days - I'd just finished my latest jigsaw and I'm saving the new seasons of The Last Kingdom and Bosch for a later date - I thought I'd take a gander at the Big A site for a spot of reading matter, where, after a bit of scrolling I chanced upon Jezza's The World According To... series.
Just so you know, by the way - and despite having annoyed you during his stint on Top Gear, which was probably why you gave The Grand Tour a pass - he did start life as a journalist, learning his craft on a regional newspaper oop north and, as a result, not only is he a very good writer, he's also very funny.
Take The World According To - Vol 1, f'r instance.
Yes, but where does seeing into the future come in...?
Bear with me, I'm coming to that.
I started to sit up and take notice when I hit Chapter 15, in which he describes his reaction to the TV quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, referring to the contestants as: ' poor souls...shuffling up to the centre of the stage with their shirts not tucked in and their dreadful shoes...'
Oops. I wonder if David Briggs, Steve Knight and Mike Whitehill (the creators of the show) read that before they gave him the gig.
But I digress. There's this later chapter: You think SARS is bad. There's worse out there.
In it, Jeremy compares and contrasts a bunch of deadly diseases: SARS, HIV and Ebola, about which experts have supposedly said that if Ebola ever gets on a plane, 90% of us will be dead 'within six months'.
As you can imagine, this wasn't exactly comforting reading while we're all cowering indoors due to a global pandemic lock down.
The next bit would be funny, if it wasn't so prescient, given the chaos displayed by our own government and, more especially, by those clowns in office on the other side of the Pond.
'We like to think that governments have contingency plans for every conceivable disaster. But I got the impression over recent weeks that a lot of people have been sitting around in rooms saying 'ooh' and 'crikey' and 'you can't do that - think of the shareholders.'
And then there's this:
He goes on to suggest that in case of future outbreaks, perhaps we need a scheme that would allow scientists and medical experts to impose, at a moment's notice, a complete ban on all flights, and a global curfew. But if that were to happen, he asks the question: who would run it? Not the, er.. WHO, he writes, as he didn't think it had either the clout or the guts to take on the job.
So, what about the Americans?
While you're laughing your socks off at that idea, here's the kicker (remember this was written back on 4th May 2003):
'I fear not....if they can't find Saddam and Osama, what chance do they have of finding something so small that there could be a million on the full stop at the end of this sentence'.
And now take a look at any one of The Orange Loon's press briefings over the past month.
Y'see what I mean? Spooky or what..?
Oh, and I discovered in Volume 2 that he's not keen on being called 'Jezza'.