Jeremy Clarkson's funniest quotes of 2020

As he reaches his 62nd birthday Jeremy Clarkson concludes that he can’t have long left

Don’t write him off just yet — he’s only 62

In a particularly poignant mood ahead of his 62nd birthday, Jeremy Clarkson, reflecting on the fact that his father died at the age of 61 and of the sad and untimely passing of some of his friends, has concluded that for him, “death cannot be that far away” either.

In a feature in this weekend’s Sunday Times Magazine, the columnist and star of The Grand Tour and Clarkson’s Farm wrote movingly about the deaths of those he’d lost as well as on the trials and miseries of ageing and wondered just how is it that some people can maintain a sense of stoicism and even good humour in the face of their impending mortality.

“Over the years I’ve been with many people in their last moments,” he said, “and I’m always staggered by how sanguine they are. How accepting of their fate.”

Recalling the death of his father, Eddie:

“Even though he was only 61 years old when the icy hand of death came curling through the window, like a tendril of nerve gas, he didn’t thrash around wondering why he had to go when Arthur Scargill did not. He simply decided his last word should be ‘Geronimo’. So he’d shout it out, loud and proud, close his eyes and then, a few moments later, open one and say quietly, ‘I’m not dead yet, am I?’.”

“Even in his final moments then he wanted to make us laugh. Imagine that. Knowing that you are minutes away from death and accepting it without a fight.”

As he approaches the twilight of his years (he’s actually only 62), however, Jeremy said that he is beginning to develop a bit more perspective and insight on death.

“It’s not that I believe I’m going to a better place and that in this better place I’ll be enjoying a refreshing glass of ass’s milk and some honey with AA Gill and all my other dead friends who, like my dad, died far too young. I don’t. I know I’m going to be in a hole where I shall rot. And I shall be there for ever, or at least until a property developer decides he needs the graveyard for a new housing estate. And then I’ll be landfill.”

Jeremy Clarkson's funniest quotes of 2020

In the meantime, though, for Jeremy, there’s the travails of an ageing body to deal with, one kept alive by the wonders of science, “medical Sellotape” and pills galore, which prompted the question as how an elderly gentleman should spend his time.

“Some imagine that they should spend their final years doing as much world travel as possible. They want to see new places and smell new things, and taste new fish, and I can’t see the point because all you’re doing is creating memories you’ll never be able to savour.”

Although Clarkson has more than a few memories worth savouring, he said, that still doesn’t stop his family whose “eyes glaze over because I can’t name a single Stormzy hit” from seeing him as a relic, something akin to “a human typewriter”.

All that said, there are a few upsides to getting old though, chief among which, he insisted, is the lack of a requirement to look fit and stylish. He scoffed, in particular, at those attempting to wind back the years by joining gyms and working out.

“At best you’ll look like a pipe cleaner in a ball sack. And you still won’t be able to run the hundred metres in 11 seconds or do pole-vaulting or swim a length underwater or win the Tour de France. People in gyms are chasing their youth but it’s gone. And it doesn’t matter how many downward dogs you do, it’s not coming back.”

He said that fellow seniors should embrace the opportunity not to wear matching socks and put “stuff” in their hair in favour of finally being free to wear a jumper full of holes, to let one’s ear and nose hair sprout freely and to drive a Volvo. Then there’s the ability to enjoy new hobbies too which, for Jeremy, now consist of walking, birdwatching and gardening, given that age often brings with it idleness and the need to “waste” some now-abundant free time. The things he once found boring, he said, are now a “lovely” way to while away the hours.

“I started going for walks in the pandemic, mainly because if I was far from the house I was far from the fridge. This is something I hated as a young man. I couldn’t see the point of ‘going for a walk’ if I was simply going to end up back where I started. But I love it now because I can see the hedgerows changing with the seasons and I can pause a while to study an interesting-looking bird’s nest. And when I get home I can look it up in a book to find out what sort of bird made it.

“I bought some secateurs the other day and find them mildly arousing. I also enjoy using my new wheelbarrow.”

Jeremy Clarkson kills some trees to save a forest

No number of cosy tartan blankets and thriving vegetable beds, however, can make up for the inevitable cruelties of loss and decay that age brings, Jeremy said. The funerals sadly begin to come thick and fast and then there’s the differences in the way health can affect two people of similar ages.

“When you’re 22 and all your friends are 22 you can all do the same things, but when you’re 62 it’s different. Some people will be able to do underwater fencing while others will be worn out from doing up their shoelaces. And the ones who have to take a breather on a flight of stairs will be resentful of those who are up there already, bouncing around on their wives. Old age is not a place where friendships can flourish. There’s too much bitterness. Too much envy.”

Once a person reaches a certain age, Jeremy said, the most difficult question becomes the one as to how much time one has left.

“Why do these imponderables prey so heavily on our minds? I guess it’s because we struggle to

cope with the hope. When we know the end is coming, that hope is replaced by despair and somehow that’s always easier. Maybe that’s why people on their death beds are so calm. Or maybe it’s the opiates. We don’t know the answer to that one either.”

Offering at least one nugget of wisdom on the subject, Clarkson said that David Bowie, who died at the age of 69 in 2016, had written something on the topic which he felt was pertinent and which summed up the great imponderable well. In his 1973 song Time, Bowie wrote:

“Time, he’s waiting in the wings. He speaks of senseless things. His script is you and me, boy.”

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