Jeremy Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson

Clarkson on: Nelson Mandela

You know how Greenpeace is prone to charging around the sea in small boats, trying to stop perfectly harmless oil rigs from being sunk. Well once - just once - they came up with a cunning plan.

They argued that the earth is 46 million years old, a number that's hard to handle. So they asked us to think of it as being 46 years old - middle-aged in other words.

A leaflet explained that almost nothing is known about the first 42 years and that dinosaurs didn't appear until just last year. Mammals came along eight months ago and it wasn't until the middle of last week that apes began to walk on their hind legs.

This was an amazing read but it was all complete mumbo jumbo because their claim that the earth is 46 million years old is simply not true. It's actually 4,600 million years old which makes their idea even more mind boggling. The last Ice age didn't happen at the weekend. It happened half-an-hour ago!

However, I don't want to get into an environmental debate here. What I want to talk about, in fact, is the puniness of Nelson Mandela.

If you divide time by a thousand million, to make the planet 46 years old, it means that 70 years passes in four-hundredths of a second. So, as far as the earth is concerned, Nelson is simply not relevant at all. And nor was Hitler. And nor was Jimi Hendrix. Truth is, in four-hundredths of a second, absolutely nothing that you do or say will make the slightest bit of difference.

For 4,600 million years, you weren't born and you'll be dead for even longer so it is therefore vital that you explode out of the womb like your hair is on fire. In real time, you've only got 600,000 hours and then you'll wind up on the wrong side of the flowerbed.

So what's the best course of action? Well you could watch Pride And Prejudice which manages to make an hour seems like a day, but prolonging a boring life is worse than not starting it in the first place. That's why you must also not drive one of the new Toyota Corollas.

"Truth is, in four-hundredths of a second, absolutely nothing that you do or say will make the slightest bit of difference"

Certainly, it is not exciting to behold. Yes, it has a bobby-dazzler of a radiator grille and the sort of eyes that only exist deep in the ocean where light is at a premium.

But from this point backwards, there is a styling vacuum, whether you're talking about the saloon, the estate, the liftback or the hatch. However, this time round there is a sporty figurehead - the G6. (I always thought it was G7 but perhaps Japan got lobbed out for making dull cars.) Anyway, this has some definite sporting overtones, in the shape of alloy wheels, red instrumentation and a leather steering wheel. There is a nifty little six-speed 'box too, which beeps when you put it into reverse.

Excited? Thinking of getting one? Well whoa there because it is powered by a 1,300cc engine, the smallest of all the new Corolla's power plants. This means old people in their not-at-all-sporty 1.6-litre liftback will be able to blow you away at the lights.

Toyota argue that by putting a small engine in the G6, they've kept insurance costs down. But that's like choosing a mild curry in case your arse hurts in the morning. Life's too short to be bothered about insurance premiums. Or a fiery ringpiece.

The G6 Corolla amazed me, time and again. No matter what I threw in its direction, it behaved like the school swat and refused to join in the fun.

The engine is actually quite sweet and the gear change utterly delightful but to take it through the gears is about as rewarding as eating flour.

One night, I sneaked it into a stubble field, knowing that any form of motorised transport is a laugh when there's 100 acres and a surface slippery enough to be an East End geezer. I did some handbrake turns and generally looned about and came home suffering from acute stupefication. Honestly, I'd have been better off reading a book with an orange spine.

The G6 is, far and away, the most idiotic way of blowing £14,000. This is a car for people who see life as a chore, to be undertaken, rather than as an experience to be milked. It is for a cardigan-wearing, non-smoking gardening fanatic who thinks ‘E' is a vowel. It is for people who think that living to be 75, rather than 70, really matters. It is therefore not for you, and it sure as hell, is not for me.

 

Jeremy Clarkson, Column

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