Jeremy Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson

Clarkson on: Texas

Look, when you go to pick your car up from a service and it isn't ready, accept it, in the same way you expect pain at the dentists.

And thank your lucky stars you don't live in Lubbock, Texas.

Most years I go to America six or seven times and, usually, I have a good time. But this is because I often end up in San Francisco, which is one of the world's three greatest cities, or Detroit, which is heaven, or Colorado, where the skiing is fine and the views are pointy.

Key West was good too, even though most of the men have an odd habit of holding hands and Michael Barrymore was staying in our hotel. I like New England as well, and for sheer geological lunacy Utah gets quite close to Iceland.

But Lubbock was my first experience of the ‘real' America. Stuck in the middle of Texas, it is basically a collection of grain towers sticking out of a trailer park. As far as claims to fame go, it is Buddy Holly's birthplace, and that's it.

However, it was in Lubbock that I met Bill Clement, the bolshiest car dealer ever to call a customer shit-head. Above the door to his premises which are on Martin Luther King - or ‘Kink' as he puts it - Boulevard, there is a sign saying who is not allowed in. It's too long to list here but basically, it includes everyone from wives and girlfriends to preachers, politicians and smokers. Bleeding hearts, collegiates and long hairs are also not welcome. And to make sure you stay outside the barbed wire fence, the gate is padlocked with a device that would even foil Q.

If you shout for attention or, worse, blow your horn, Bill will open his office window and empty a .44 into your chest. I'm not kidding. In Texas, you are allowed to shoot anyone who commits criminal mischief on your property in the hours of darkness.

The last person who tried to break into Bill's garage was a young black guy from ‘N*****-town'. "He got an overdose of lead that night," said Bill, proudly.

You sort of know what you're in for because on the door to his office, there's a sticker which says "Speak English Or Get The F*** Out". Plus, there is a WWII German army helmet on the coffee table and a list of ‘N****** Names' on the wall. Bill was wary of the ‘Limey crapass motherf*****' who'd come for a chat until he discovered the cameraman was South African. Then everything was fine, and he gave us a lecture about the Merlin engine and how the Spitfire was the best ever plane.

"It was in Lubbock that I met Bill Clement, the bolshiest car dealer ever to call a customer shit-head"

He also discovered we'd come in a Chevrolet people carrier which was a good thing because if it had been a Ford, he'd have shot us. Bill would rather push a Chevy than drive a Ford. No-one who has even even thought about renting a Ford is allowed within a mile of Bill's place.

Bill's desk is the front half of a '57 Chevy. His yard plays host to over 200 old ones and his museum has 17 fully restored SS models. "They weren't too popular with non-Third Reich enthusiasts," he said.

In his workshop, Bill is helped by Bob who bought a pair of jeans thirteen years ago, before he became fat. But rather than throw away the jeans, Bob now does them up underneath his arse. When he bent over it was quite a sight.

Bill's sartorial elegance wasn't up to much either. His jeans were four inches too short, his stomach four inches too fat and his hair was four inches too short. I didn't much care for his Buddy Holly specs or the laser straight parting in his hair. And when he dismissed the Rolling Stones as Pewkie Dolls, I nearly hit him.

He saved himself from a punch in the mouth, though, when he expressed an interest in the Aston Martin Vantage engine. He bounced up and down at that ridiculous desk when I said it was a V8 with two superchargers, and squeaked with excitement when I said it developed 550lb ft of torque. But then he went purple with rage when I explained it had 5.4 litres - no metric measurements allowed in Bill's place - and finally exploded when I said Aston Martin is owned by Ford.

Bill hated Fords, almost as much as I hated him but he did have one redeeming feature. His tee-shirt. Which said, and I quote: "If you haven't seen God... it's because you're not going fast enough".

 

Jeremy Clarkson, Column

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