Jeremy Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson

Clarkson on: mortality

This article was first published in March 1995.

I have absolutely no figures to hand but would hazard a guess that golf is by far the most dangerous pastime in which you can indulge.

Bing Crosby is the most famous casualty of this absurd hobby but he is by no means alone. My old doctor went West on the fairway and I'm fairly sure that every weekend, some red-faced freemason curls up his toes somewhere between the fifth and sixth greens.

This is because golf is usually played by old, fat people who have not done any form of exercise since leaving school back in the days when they had diphtheria and Hitler.

Your heart, when you've spent 50 years sitting at a desk eating chocolate, is a fatty, amorphous blob which cannot be expected to cope should you suddenly decide to take up golf. And it certainly won't be able to cope the first time you catch a glimpse of yourself in those stupid strides.

Remember this: exercise of any kind is dangerous. Even horizontal jogging can be hazardous.

Time and time again, people with a predilection for wearing yellow lycra tell us that we must look after ourselves, that we must give up smoking, that we must run everywhere and that red meat is evil.

And who is that man who jumps up and down on breakfast television?

Look. During the eighties, I smoked 108,000 cigarettes and drank perhaps 7,500 pints of beer. I rarely did anything strenuous - except that -- and here I am in 1995, fit, fat and happy, though I will admit that in a morning, I do sometimes produce the most enormous docker's oysters.

"Remember this: exercise of any kind is dangerous. Even horizontal jogging can be hazardous"

Now compare this state of affairs to my more agile and sporty friends who, throughout the '80s, jogged to work, trained twice a week, went to the gym and played rugby. And all of them ended up injured in some unpleasant way.

This meant they couldn't carry on being sporty and, as a result, all their muscle has turned to fat. They still have broken knees, wonky spines and jogger's nipple.

They don't smoke so they're on edge. They don't drink much so they're dull. And pretty soon, they're all going to take up golf and die of a heart attack.

In the past 15 years I have skied occasionally and each time some part of me which was working has stopped. Once I broke my thumb. And most of my right knee is still in Val D'Isere.

I have done some karting but I always, always, always end up headbutting a wall. Which hurts.

I once went fishing and just as we were about to come home, a 502 pound Marlin took a fancy to the plastic octopus I'd been dangling in the water and it took me six hours to land the damn thing. My hands were bleeding and I was sick twice.

Just recently, I learned how to scuba dive. This, I figured, was not a sport, as all you do is hang around, weightless, looking at fishes and coral. Apart from the bit when you jump off the boat, it's completely effortless, and furthermore, you can't possibly hurt yourself under water, unless a shark eats your leg.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. There are currents which are pretty handy for moving you away from the boat but a damn nuisance when you want to get back. Ideally you wait for the tide to change but as I was getting through a tank of air in 15 minutes, this was not an option.

Also, I cut my foot and bled like a stuck pig. I bruised my knee getting back into the boat and my left ear, even now, three weeks later, still thinks it's 75 feet down and won't pop back to one bar.

Now, I have never ever hurt myself in a pub or while slouched in front of the television. So that, from now on is where you'll find me.

And to make sure I always take the car, even when I'm popping down to the corner shop for more fags, I have bought one of those American traffic light things to hang over my front door. It says, simply, Don't Walk.

I understand that as a result, I shall die earlier than might have been the case if I'd spent every waking moment down at the gym, grunting.

But I shall have had a happy life and I shall toddle off before Alzheimer's sets in and before I'm humiliated with the need for an incontinence bag.


Jeremy Clarkson, Column

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