You saw the headline, right up there? Up top? The one involving Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and non- Top Gear? And you’re still clicking through? Good, then we’re all on the same page. Because there’s plenty of things to drudge through in the world of non-Top Gear, starting with the Ape and the Hamster.

The world has been sitting in silence and not-really-bated breath ever since Clarkson was fired from Top Gear. He hasn’t said much of anything, besides his annual sale of horsecrap, and his previously-active Twitter account has remained dormant. But then, like a beacon in the night, there was this:

“The thing” that Clarkson is referring to, is, of course, the time a doctor told him he probably had cancer.

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Oh, you hadn’t heard about that? It turns out that on top of everything else going on in his life elucidated by one-time arch-nemesis Piers Morgan – the divorce, the scandals, the excessive consumption, and the work issues – Clarkson’s doctor gave him a really serious scare, he wrote in his latest Sunday Times column (subscription required):

Two days before the “fracas”, I’d been told, sternly, by my doctor that the lump on my tongue was probably cancer and that I must get it checked out immediately. But I couldn’t do that. We were in the middle of a Top Gear series. And Top Gear always came first.

It turns out that the lump attached to the tongue belonging to the notoriously hard-drinking and hard-smoking television presenter wasn’t actually cancer, though it probably wasn’t helping on the day Top Gear came tumbling down.

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But the rest of the column doesn’t get any less depressing, really, and Clarkson is typically poetic in describing the monumentally vast chasm left in his life now that his signature program is off the air, and if it returns, it won’t be with him:

The hole it’s left behind seems to stretch for eternity. And eternity is a big place. Imagine a ball of steel the size of the Earth. Now imagine a fly landing on that ball once a day, and then taking off again. When it eventually has worn the ball of steel away to nothing, that is just the start of eternity. And I’ve somehow got to fill it.

Playing patience on my laptop is not the answer. Because when you get bored, and you will, it’s still only eight in the morning and you can’t even think about going to the pub for four more hours. And then you have to decide not to go to the pub because that’s the road to ruin and despair.

If that seems a bit maudlin and melodramatic, it actually isn’t exaggerated. Clarkson’s been hosting car shows for the BBC in some form or another since 1988, which is longer than much of his audience has been alive. Taking your one major career path away from you, after nearly 27 years, must be gut wrenching.

It’s so bad, in fact, that Clarkson says the only good thing he’s got going for him in life right now is that his son is living with him.

Which really does make you feel bad for the guy, even if he did bring it on himself.

But Clarkson’s 55, and anyone that’s seen his teeth knows that he isn’t getting any younger. So he’s going to do what he’s been hinting at for a while, which is start a new car show:

At 55, then, you’re in a limbo land where time is simultaneously with you and against you. You are too young to put your feet up but too old to start anything new.

Which is why I have made a decision. I have lost my baby but I shall create another. I don’t know who the other parent will be or what the baby will be like, but I cannot sit around any more organising my photograph albums.

Which is great, because holy crap does he and his co-hosts need new jobs. Especially his co-hosts. James May has continued with his cooking videos, and at least those serve an educational purpose. But Richard Hammond is so bored, he’s unleashed his boredom upon the world. And it’s sole purpose seems to be to induce the same sort of boredom in its audience.

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Seriously, here’s Hammond doing Welsh sheep stuff for over ten minutes. And no, it’s not that Welsh sheep stuff:

I’ll wait while you look for a plot. Trust me, there isn’t any, except for a sad little dog joke at the end. And then he made a shorter, director’s-cut of the same thing:

Someone get these people jobs. For everyone else’s sake.

Photo credit: Getty Images


Contact the author at ballaban@jalopnik.com.

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