Why Clarkson Should Go

The media and public are divided over the recent alleged fracas involving Jeremy Clarkson …

As most readers will undoubtedly be aware, Jeremy Clarkson is the lead presenter of the popular BBC television programme Top Gear. He has held this position since the programme was relaunched in 2003 after previous presenters defected to Channel 5 to launch Fifth Gear. Clarkson shares the presentation duties with Richard Hammond and James May. Since the latest fracas made news headlines, over one million people have signed a petition demanding that the BBC reinstate Clarkson and broadcast the remaining three shows of the current series that have been postponed pending their internal investigation.

However, there is a contra petition gaining considerable momentum that calls for Clarkson to be sacked by the BBC. In reality, he and his co-presenters only have a few weeks of their current contracts remaining so it would be easy for the BBC not to renew them. This latest debâcle by Clarkson is one of a long list of misdemeanours and insults over the years. In 2008 he made an ill-judged joke about prostitutes being murdered by lorry drivers. In 2009 he openly insulted the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Later that year, he suggested that TV bosses were obsessed with having black Muslim lesbians on shows in order to balance out the number of white heterosexual men. The following year, whilst discussing dangerous driving conditions on the show, Clarkson made a joke about a woman in a burka wearing a red g-string. Also in 2010, he made an ill-timed joke about disabled people and mocked homosexuality. He made headlines in late 2011 when he said that all striking public service workers should be lined up and shot in front of their families. In December of that year, he called people who threw themselves under trains as selfish, and that the train should carry on with its journey! In March 2014, he made a racist comment whilst filming in Thailand, and this was upheld by Ofcom as being deliberately offensive. Also in 2014, Clarkson was heard to use an offensive and derogatory word, and later that year, there was the Argentina incident which was almost certainly provocative.

Some might argue that everything Clarkson says is in jest. However he works for a public broadcasting corporation so is, in effect, a spokesman for the company. Furthermore, they have paid him handsomely helping him to accrue a £30m fortune. He would do well to remember that one should never bite off the hands of those who feed him! Most people found guilty of one or two of these offences would lose their job immediately but for some inexplicable reason, Clarkson manages to wriggle out of situations by making thinly-veiled apologies.

People who support him are effectively condoning his behaviour. I am astounded by the gullibility shown whereby the public think Jeremy Clarkson IS Top Gear. Let’s get one thing straight … no-one Is bigger than the programme they present. All three of the current presenter line-up see themselves as Prima Donnas and thereby lies much of the problem. They are viewed on a pedestal and senior management have been frightened to topple it. As for viewing figures, it is accepted that the programme has a reasonable weekly audience but this is far short of the number who watched the show in its heyday. The programme launched in 1977 and quickly became the definitive motoring show for new car road tests, safety, insurance, holiday touring and what to look out for when buying a used car. Other topics included corrosion, tachograph legislation, drink driving, the dangers of joyriding and the much missed British Motor Show. The programme spanned a variety of presenters, all of whom had some interest in motoring, and featured names such as Noel Edmonds, Angela Rippon, Tiff Needell and Tony Mason. Interestingly, Jeremy Clarkson was a presenter on the show throughout the 1990s when it still focused on everyday motoring. The current incarnation of Top Gear has little to do with the trials and tribulations of the type of motoring that most of us experience. Instead, it has become a vehicle for the presenters to carry out ludicrous stunts and constantly focuses on excessive speed. In other words, it has completely lost direction and needs to return to basics …

The programme has been revamped several times so I see no reason why this can’t happen again, bringing in a fresh presentation team and steering the show in a new direction. Notwithstanding all his alleged misdemeanours, Clarkson should go and take his two cohorts with him. The discerning viewer has had more than enough of their crazy antics which only portray the serious topic of motoring in a very poor light.

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The Big Move

Some of the essential requirements when considering a move to Spain …

With the growth of the European Union, one might expect that moving to another country within the EU would be generally straightforward. In an ideal world, basic laws and procedures would be standardised across all member nations, making movement between countries truly free to all. That situation would in no way erode individual countries’ heritage or sovereignty, facts that many people choose to quote when disagreeing with the EU concept. People are more than happy to visit member states for holidays and often expect the same standards to which they are accustomed at home, but when it comes to any form of amalgamation or common policy, they protest vehemently. Quite simply, one cannot have one’s cake and eat it. I believe wholeheartedly in the European Union, not only on the basis of trade between nations, but also as firm allies in what is becoming an ever-increasing violent world.

So back to the subject matter! In simple terms, relocating to Spain can be something of a nightmare. House purchase procedures are quite different to those in the UK and before one can do anything, it is necessary to obtain a Spanish tax number known as the NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero). In fact, this number is needed for many transactions including car purchase and the buying and selling of items. The document is issued by the National Police and can be obtained from a variety of sources including in person direct from the Spanish Embassy. Rather foolishly, I left the matter to my Spanish solicitor so it took longer to obtain but at least it was through in time for me to buy a car!

The next requirement is a Spanish bank account. One can forget all about ‘free’ banking of which many British ex-pats will be familiar. The process is very long-winded and has to be done by prior appointment. Proof of identification is required as well as the source of the money to be deposited, and once the account is set up, copious amounts of paper documents are churned out by a printer. Every page of a document then has to be signed even though the majority of people will have no idea what the document is saying. The bank then levies charges which are high whilst the account holder is not officially documented as a resident. Counter service is also abysmal, at least in the branch of my current bank, but it was arranged by my solicitor. In time, I will shop around for a more progressive company as I get the distinct impression that the bank I use is stuck in the Middle Ages!

Andalucia Regions
Andalucia Region

An initial property search can be undertaken and a reservation made without these essential commodities but they will be needed prior to any legal documentation being completed. If you have not already engaged a solicitor, I would suggest that it would be prudent to do so at this point. It’s also esential that the solicitor engaged has a fair command of your native language so that contracts can be translated. After all, you may think you’re agreeing to buy a modest villa or apartment, only to discover when it’s too late that an entire street of properties has been contracted to purchase! In any event, a good solicitor will be able to help with other matters so it is worthwhile trying to find one who will be both approachable and reliable. Having finances sorted out beforehand will undoubtedly make any procedure less tiresome, and for transferring monies abroad, it is advisable to use a specialist currency broker rather than your UK bank. There are several of these companies in operation including Currencies Direct, Moneycorp and Global Currency Exchange. They all offer a better exchange rate than the banks and don’t levy charges for the transactions. That said, my Spanish bank charged a small fortune to receive the money! They certainly didn’t mention that beforehand and no doubt keep quiet until the deed is done.

Obviously, if you’re moving from one country to another, it’s advisable to do as much property research beforehand. Thankfully, that task is far less onerous nowadays because of the internet but be aware that many properties are in the hands of multiple agents and may actually already be sold. Also, prices can vary considerably as notifications of any change don’t always filetr through to every agent! Once you have shortlisted potential properties which, on paper at least, meet your requirements, area and budget, it is a good idea to liaise with agents and arrange a trip that will maximise your viewing time. The downside to this is potential property overload and forgetting most of what has been seen but it is costly to make repeated visits abroad. It also makes sense to keep accommodation costs down so I would recommend staying at a bed and breakfast. I found an excellent place in the Almanzora area of AlmerÍa run by British ex-pats who made me feel very much at home. Their website can be found here: http://www.alittlebitofengland.es/

The actual buying process works very differently from the UK and once you agree to buy a property, a purchase contract will be drawn up and after being signed by both parties, a 10% deposit will be payable. Subsequent ‘completion’ of the purchase will depend upon the status of the property being purchased when the balance of the purchase price plus taxes will have to be paid. Please note that both the vendors and the purchasers have to be present when documents are signed … this can often lead to lengthy delays. Finally, something that really need not be said but do not part with any money until all legal aspects have been confirmed by your legal representative.

Almanzora in Cantoria, Almería
Almanzora in Cantoria, Almería