HAVING recently turned 60, Jeremy Clarkson has spent a significant amount of time in his last few columns in The Sunday Times Magazine reckoning with his own mortality. Recently, he learned that, “If you go to a Covid-19 hospital with a body mass index number that puts you in a category called ‘obese’, then you are put straight in the bin.”
He has decided, therefore, to take up exercise. And since he owns a massive farm, and his countryside neighbours have been imploring him to do a “perimeter walk” since he moved in (a suggestion he’s always pooh-poohed because it involves walking), in today’s Farmer Clarkson report (filling the gap while test cars couldn’t be delivered) he reveals he finally bit the bullet.
At 11 o’clock on a sunny morning Clarkson and his partner Lisa took off on an exploratory walk of his farm’s outer edge. He goes to great lengths to make sure you know that he is not a rambler, and therefore does not dress like one: “People who walk in the countryside have got it into their heads that it’s a sport, like deep-sea diving and ice hockey, so they reckon it needs specialist clothing. But it isn’t a sport. It’s a pastime, like cricket or Scrabble.”
Clad in a t-shirt and jeans and already thinking of the pint he’d have when he got back, The Grand Tour presenter began the uphill walk, quickly coming into somewhat testy contact with some locals — one “fat ginger youth in an anorak, walking right through the middle of a field of spring barley” and a dog walker. He requested that she put her dogs on lead, as his sheep (the subject of last week’s column) were in the next field. After these interactions he concluded that, “On the evidence to hand, 100% of people who walk in the countryside are argumentative and unpleasant idiots.”
Walking off his anger, Clarkson reached the most northerly point of the farm, where, “for complicated reasons, there is a gigantic model of James May’s head, which has been viciously attacked by walkers with hammers and their bare fists.” Perhaps a location for May’s next bike ride…
Clarkson’s mood improved, however, when he found an old air raid shelter on his land (don’t you just love it when that happens?) then sullied again when he realised that he also owned a “fridge freezer, a car door, a sofa, six worn tyres and several hundred empty bottles of cider.”
The next milestone on Clarkson’s walk involved finding two dead deer, one bent in half and the other reduced to a head a “a licked-clean spine”.
Eventually, Lisa, nursing a nasty blister, decided she’d had enough and went home, leaving Clarkson to complete the perimeter walk himself. But despite all the death and arguing, and 10 miles of mostly uphill walking, the Sunday Times’s farmer-in-chief says he actually really enjoyed himself.
To read the entire adventure, pick up a copy of this weekend’s Sunday Times Magazine or head to The Sunday Times website.