THERE is a certain irony, I suppose, because back in the day I would often declare how the world would be a more agreeable place if only Jeremy Clarkson was shot.
Mainly I would express this sentiment when, while living in a shared student house, I found myself watching Top Gear with flatmates who should have known better.
Shoot all three of them, I said.
Him and Hammond and...you know, the third one.
I never extended this mini-rant to suggest said assassination should be carried out in front of their families but only because the thought such a trio could have met women who would willingly procreate with them never once entered my head.
In any case, long before Clarkson found himself pilloried for saying something similar about striking public sector workers, I would happily call for his summary execution. If they aired it instead of Top Gear one Sunday, so much the better.
It never occurred to me this might cause offence. Certainly those flatmates never registered 21,000 complaints with me – although they often told me to pipe down, little man, while they were trying to hear the 0-70mph capability of some new penis extension.
And when, some years later, Richard Hammond’s life did indeed hang by a thread in a Leeds hospital bed, of course, I did not actually hope he would die but nor did I ever feel guilty for once wishing mock death upon him.
Because, quite obviously, I was joking.
Not very well, I grant you.
I was never in danger of becoming the next Bill Hicks.
But I was joking nonetheless.
See, for sure I dislike Clarkson – it’s not his offensiveness I find offensive; it’s how unremittingly dull that whole macho Middle England outsider schtick is – but I was hyperbolising that dislike for comic effect.
I was being extreme to illustrate how boring I found his 1970s boorishness.
Get it? Well... like I say, it was never comedy gold to rival Del Boy falling through the bar or anything.
And neither was Clarkson’s own outburst on The One Show.
A little sad, if anything, that a man chasing 60 still deals in that idiotic humour most blokes leave behind around the same time as their virginity, but it was humour anyway.
And anyone with eyes, ears or a basic sense of proportion could surely grasp that.
Which is why I find those 21,000 complaints baffling.
I would ask if these people had nothing better to do with their time but, let’s face it, they were watching The One Show so quite blatantly they don’t.
No, Clarkson wasn’t inciting hatred, you muppets; he was inciting sales of whatever his latest Christmas product is. That’s all.
And, then, just when you’re wondering why people are so sensitive, in steps Dave Prentis to demand, in all seriousness, Clarkson be sacked.
So, to clarify, that’s the head of a public workers union demanding a public worker – old Jezzer works for the BBC – be dismissed without due process or disciplinary procedure.
The only conclusion from the whole thing? Yeah, of course Clarkson acted like a tool but, by raising to the bait, so did Dave Prentis and those 21,000 complainants.
“What a sorry place the world is,” she sighed as we watched it, unbelievingly, unfold. “It’s enough to make you want to shoot yourself.”
She was joking but I agreed.