Clarkson on: idiots
As we know, Royal Ascot is a place where the great minds of Britain dust down their top hats and gather in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen to watch some of the world's finest equine breeding stock compete for glory on a course steeped in pomp, circumstance and history..
Oh no, hang on a minute. I seem to be stuck in the wrong century. Because now, the whole event has been hijacked by a bunch of overpaid Audi- driving chavs with rented fancy dress costumes and flammable wives who think we'll mistake them for great-minded philanthropists simply because they are there, smoking Parvenu cigars, drinking the wrong champagne and being terrified that they are all holding the picnic cutlery incorrectly. As if a great mind could give two shits.
This month, I sat at a party next to someone who had tickets for this hateful glimpse into everything that's wrong with Heat-obsessed Britain, and she had about her person a letter instructing her on the dress code.
Now let me make one thing absolutely plain. Dress codes are for the terminally stupid. Telling your guests what to wear implies that a) you are a megalomaniac or that b) you've invited such a bunch of witless fools, they'd all turn up in bearskin hats if left to their own devices. I simply will not go to any establishment that requires me to wear a suit, or a tie. And even if my bestest friend were to celebrate his 40th birthday with a fancy dress party, he'd be doing so without me.
Anyway, the dress code required for Ascot was even more barmy than I could have imagined because it said tans must not be streaky and that knickers must be worn. What kind of halfwit cares about how the chavs paint themselves orange? And surely, if the whole place is going to be full of spivs, the only upside is that we get to see some arse every time there's a gust of wind.
"I simply will not go to any establishment that requires me to wear a suit, or a tie"
What puzzled me most though is who getsthe job of checking? "Can I see your ticket, miss?And now if you'd like to stand on that mirror..." Actually, I'm thinking of introducing a similar policy for the Top Gear studio audience. Speaking of which... I understand that it's very difficult to get tickets for our studio days. People stop me in the streets all the time saying they have been trying for years and then, just last month, a story appeared in the papers saying the waiting list, even as it stands now, will take 18 years to clear.
You would imagine then that those who do get tickets are mustard-keen fans, eager to be a part of the moment when we stitch all the films together. We certainly hope so, because without audience laughter and a bit of banter, it's a flat day for us, and we end up with a useless, dull-sounding show.
Mostly, the audiences are great. But recently - I won't say when, for fear of upsetting any good guys who were there - we found ourselves faced with 700 zoo animals. You could have cracked the funniest joke in the world and all you'd have got in return was a face full of tumbleweed. It was horrid, and it made me very cross to think there were thousands of people sitting at work that day, who hadn't got tickets because they'd all been sent instead to the cages of the Cotswold Wildlife Park.
This has made me think. You know how foreigners coming to Britain are soon to be faced with a 'citizenship' test before they are allowed to live here? They'll have to say they know what a wee wee is and that it is considered bad manners to rape your hostess at a dinner party.
Well surely, such a test could be implemented at Ascot. "Do you have an Audi RS4?" If yes, you are a cock, and you can't come in. And we could adopt it at our studio too. "What is a Mercedes?' If you think it is a type of grain, or the top of a carrot, you are barred, just as surely as if you turn up wearing knickers.