The Vehicle That Ran Out Of Gas

At the end of last year, I began to reflect on everything that had been closed following the end of a personal chapter. I pondered the good, the bad, the highs and the lows; it dawned on me that the common ground was not mutual but individual. I wanted to think that counting down and being excited about a new Grand Tour episode was a shared experience but it wasn’t, it was and always will be, an individual thing I had with myself. But Ev, why is this worthy of me reading this monologue? Well readers, it’s because after 17 years a family institute is drawing itself to a close and I need to pay tribute to a constant in my life.

Cruising

Readers will know that, had it not been for a crush on Richard Hammond I probably would never have found myself watching and following a motoring show, I’ve joked that I’d watch him present paint drying; guys if that could be arranged that would be ace! Cheers. Back in 2017 I attended the launch of second series of The Grand Tour; as press I was there to capture some content and report back, but on arrival I was asked how I’d got access and they asked for the answer I gave and I wrote ‘Richard Hammond’s face.’ Yet aside from the cooing from me, I’ve always seen 2002-2015 Top Gear/Grand Tour as a constant in my life, when I was unwell in and out of hospital with ME and neuropathy the specials were there ready to pick me up; when I had two wisdom teeth extracted I asked the dentist if he minded me playing Richard Hammond coming down the stairs on his return in 2007. He said yes, if it calms you while we numb your mouth up. Sure thing, I sense he must have thought I was a bit unhinged, heck the hinge came off my brain a while back. When I was bullied at school the re-runs on Dave would bring the calming energy I longed to have with the meditation and mindful-bollocking-ness. I’ve often considered and pondered the PR consultancy I’d have given to the BBC and Top Gear after Hammond’s accident in 2006 – the things I’m sure you think of too. Oh, that reminds me I need to order my electrolytes…. And, when I needed memory aids there would be an episode I could assign to a particular exam topic to aid my memory. I can still give you a running download of the themes and motifs in Jane Eyre thanks to a 2012 Top Gear episode. It was ironic that I was so engaged yet it took me 5 times to pass a driving test. But, there again, I bought a Fiat 500 Abarth because Richard Hammond drove one on the show – and I told that to the car salesman who looked at me like I was joking, the reality was, I wasn’t joking then and I’m not joking now. But, he did miss two things. 1. Not economical, if you fancy spending every week at your petrol station, go for it Glen Coco and 2. Everyone can hear your engine half way down the road so you won’t need to drop them a text to say you’re outside. I wouldn’t recommend the vehicle to anyone who is crazy and follows their other half to check they’re loyal because your wife will hear you before you’ve stepped foot in your friends home. Disclaimer, I used my Abarth photos as it felt the most apt for this post, but I now have a Polar Bear friendly Toyota Yaris Hybrid. For me, the show acted as a constant, it was there when I needed to be alone with my emotions, but it also acted as a religious event in my family home. Every Sunday, we would sit down and watch the latest edition on BBC 2, all gagging for a laugh about a subject we had no real interest in but the chemistry/personality was what connected my family, even during difficult times. It was a constant.

The Next Junction

When Jeremy Clarkson made his derogatory comments about Meghan Markle I thought the ending of The Grand Tour was close but to my surprise there was more gas in the tank; secretly I never truly prepared myself for the end and I’m convinced lots more would sit in my boat than me. I had said for some time, The Grand Tour would always have a reputation to uphold, the reputation that fans had swooned and engaged with for decades. We wanted the jokes, the destinations and the 4K imagery yet in recent specials I felt it was missing – but maybe this was the mental space I was in during those years or maybe it was because the show had found it’s mojo. I won’t lie, but The Grand Tour has been through a real change; when it aired in 2016, the first series felt staged with lots of jokes designed to make fun and test the editorial boundaries Amazon had. Some things worked, others fell flat like the ‘I guess he’s not coming on’ but the trio noticed and took on board what fans were taking to social media to moan about. No longer were they just recording content to please the BBC but their audience who had given them their platforms in the first place. There are a collection of Grand Tour episodes which for me enter the constant clause we discussed earlier, the episode I watched the day I was diagnosed with a chronic neurological condition, the episode I watched the day I landed that pay rise or promotion they too have been weaved into my life tapestry.

Sandjob

On Sunday, my family recreated the magic that we had during the noughties. The snacks, the blankets ready for a special. I had dug out the M&S cookie dough, if you don’t know you need to get to know. I was living my best life, and yes I did say that in my mind like Gypsy Rose. The latest episode for me tapped into something that had been missing for a while, it captured what the fans who share my dingy boat believe is authentic. It’s the jokes and essentially the package we all fell in love with during the infamous Botswana special. I loved it, but then I loved the previous two. Watch now.

The end is near

We are reaching the end of this journey, Clarkson shared that the show is reaching its natural ending. The stunts, the destinations and themes have all been explored and now it’s time to put to bed while the show can go out on its high. The trio have shared the final instalment is due later this year, Clarkson appears to be the only presenter to be very literal with the ending while Hammond has skirted round the subject “We’d like to land it at the moment of our choosing and when we decide, right that’s enough, we’ll stop that. We are near that moment.” PR advice, be literal it’s far easier to unpack than waffle. Many thanks. But, that being said, surely the waffle gives us the faith that we have at least another special to watch and say goodbye to.

For me, I often imagined it being on through my whole life, but heck if my teens are anything to go by, Dave will be there to replay the episodes until we reach our pension years folks.

I know that the chances of Jeremy Clarkson, James May, Andy Willman and Richard Hammond reading this is very slim, slimmer than my waist line…so on that bombshell, thank you. Thank you for injecting political incorrectness and fun into mine and my family’s life. Thank you for being the background noise of every project and giving me years worth of gifs, jokes and Mastermind wins. Thank you and Goodnight.

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