Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Why I really... dislike... the word 'hate'

I really dislike Jeremy Clarkson. No, I don't. I've never met him. What's to dislike? Actually, what I often find a shame is that a communicator and entertainer of his calibre and talent can, on occasion, come out with a few things I, personally and sometimes professionally, don't like, and wish he wouldn't. But then, so does Transport 2000 (Jeremy will know what I mean). So at risk of incurring his... dislike... of such criticism (which, if you read on I am really anticipating and hoping won't happen, for all sorts of selfish reasons), I am going to explain why here.

He's got kids, and I think they're around the same age as mine. And because of kids I've become aware of something. In this PC-obsessed age, that Jeremy so witheringly lampoons (usually with total justification), there have been a few small nuggets that have kinda, sorta... to me made sense that they be used with care (actually I like that, Potentially Careful seems as equally cautionary as Politically Correct, yet not so institutionally arrogant). And one involves 'hate'. There is too much of it in the world, in deed, that I don't really need to see it used in word, unless absolutely necessary. And I REALLY don't need to see it used flippantly, whilst accepting that this is a potential route to drawing its bite (a bit of Blogic for another time, I guess). For such a small word, it carries a big punch, and should be used with care. So when Jeremy opines that he no longer hates David Beckham having now met him I cheer, but then shudder when he starts looking around for his next victim to... er... hate. And the media is full of it. A critic goes into print to explain why he hates Harry Potter! So is it any wonder then that our kids start mixing up the words and deeds surrounding such a hateful word with a lot more that is really innocuous?

It's such a shame. I have been asked who I'd fancy most to be the celebrity endorser of Junkk.com, which would need to be, I stress, an unpaid role (so we’ll stand by the letterbox in anticipation of the flood). It required fair thought. Certainly not some celebrity with a book/record/new series to sell who needs a patina of goodness to make them acceptable to hype-obsessed media outlets who in turn are vaguely aware of their public service duties. And while I love most of them to death, the usual green darlings are either a bit too over-exposed (by being few and far between?) or, if I may be frank... obvious (though if the awesome Ray Mears insisted on taking me on summer hols to pick up tips on how to get by when the next ice age comes, I may just let him. He apparently didn't like the new Land Rover because you couldn't make replacement wheel hubs out of baked bean cans any more - how Junkk.com is that!).

No, I plumped for our Jezza. And it did bring a few of my advisors out in a fit of the vapours. But my reasoning was simple. Junkk.com is about choice. We would like people to engage with what we espouse because they see the merit, the benefit.. and WANT to do it. No fines. No shaming. Just reward. And if I can get the epitome of shameless, conspicuous consumption to say, in his own inimitable, eloquent way that there are aspects of Junkk.com he could see himself taking on board… I think that will speak a few more volumes about what we're standing for. Especially if he understands how it would save a bit of time (which I’m sure he needs) and maybe even make a bit of money (ok, not such a problem, but petrol is hitting £1 a gallon soon) ... or pull his highly paid buns out of the fire when no minion is around to get that whatever in the middle of nowhere (I am assuming he will have a web-enabled mobile to access the site for inspiration..

But I don't think I can make him 'our face' when he has to pursue the ratings to support his lifestyle by saying things I don't think he wants to, or really needs to, and that compromise all his highly necessary, well-researched, clearly explained reality-checking messages not just to those in authority, but also those of us (for there are many) who pay attention to his words.

I hope writing this will not spoil any chance we may have of meeting, and potentially enjoying one another's company in the future. Especially as I have a heck of an idea for Top Gear that we'd like to pitch to him. I think it'll be all right, as Jeremy is a big man in every sense of the word, and when he disagrees usually does so with a certain style and good humour. He also, when concentrating on being a journalist rather than a shock jock, has commendable ethical standards, a healthy dose of common sense and a fearless self-confidence to confront the totally barking in an already insane world.

So I hope he'll take the call (we have people on the track of his people). If it helps, I was once a Civil Engineer. And just like his justifiably-admired Brunel, I'm trying to make the world a better place, but am not ashamed to try and do it in an old-fashioned way. I also totally agree that safety cameras, if indeed they do provide that function, should have the limit posted on them. And I once at school sat behind a guy called Aston, which was a giggle at roll-call.