I bet that’s a sentence you never thought you’d read anywhere, right? Let me assure that you did not, in fact, wake up in Bizarro World this morning, or that if you did then I’m right there with you. Amid Jeremy Clarkson’s FacePunchFracasGate scandal, the embattled Top Gear host has an unlikely defender in the form of one of his most ardent critics: Piers Morgan.
Somehow, Morgan — a man with a bitter, years-long, mutual enmity with Clarkson that has included Twitter fights and actual fights — has emerged to say “Hey, maybe cut the guy a break” in a column that only be described as a true class act.
Morgan’s column in the Mail on Sunday explains that actually, believe it or not, he and Clarkson don’t really have a beef anymore. I highly suggest you read the whole thing, but Morgan says that after their feud reached its apex last year, Clarkson sent him an early morning text message suggesting they hammer out their differences and make nice over a few drinks at a pub in West London.
And so they did. With more than just a few drinks it turns out.
By 11pm on our reconciliation night, I’d consumed four pints of London Pride, and two bottles of St Emilion Grand Cru. Clarkson had swilled buckets of rosé, and puffed endless packets of nicotine.
We were both extremely inebriated and talking gibberish by the time his feisty daughter Emily turned up, and loudly groaned at the unedifying spectacle that confronted her.
But she recovered enough to take a souvenir photo of the two of us, now resembling decrepit refugees from Last Of The Summer Wine.
To balance things out, I phoned my eldest son Spencer, a massive Top Gear fan and ardent opponent of political correctness, and put him on to Jeremy with the immortal words: ‘Have a chat with my new Best Friend…’
Isn’t that kind of nice? I mean, if Jeremy Clarkson and Piers Morgan, of all people, can settle their disputes, maybe there’s hope for the human race after all. (Copious amounts of booze are largely to thank for this, but still.)
Morgan writes that Clarkson was the one who reached out to him. He’s just going through some rough personal shit right now and can’t do their feud anymore. And here’s the part that humanizes Jezza quite a bit:
‘Morgan,’ he sighed, ‘I’m going through a difficult divorce, my first ex-wife has also came out of the woodwork to give me hell, I’m smoking too much, drinking too much, my back hurts, I’m all over the papers with this N-word scandal, I’m at war with my BBC bosses, and my mother has just died. I simply don’t have the energy for you any more.’
‘I’m actually relieved,’ I replied, ‘because I’ve run out of vile epithets in the English language to deploy about you. There are only so many ways I can call you a fat, useless ****.’ Then we both roared with laughter, and ordered another round of drinks.
Like a lot of Americans, I was never a fan of Morgan when he was on CNN. He often came off as a colonial scold, one who seemed like he was either talking down to his audience or failing to understand them. He could also be weird when it came to women, and he had a penchant for getting into Twitter fights he could never win. But I’ll be damned if this column isn’t a stand-up move on his part.
Here’s why I say that:
And after our night in the pub together, I sensed that Jeremy’s just like pretty much every other 50-something in life; angst-ridden from damaged relationships, grieving loved ones, irritated by work-related issues, and battling inner demons. In the kind of ghastly therapy-speak he would ridicule, he’s been struggling to keep all his plates spinning for a while, and every time one crashes to the floor, I suspect he finds it harder to pick up the pieces while simultaneously keep the others spinning.
I don’t feel sorry for him, because he wouldn’t want us pitying a multi-millionaire TV star. But I do empathise with him, and I hope he sorts himself out.
What’s the takeaway from this? That Clarkson’s human, and human beings make mistakes. They have bad days, or bad years, because even if they’re wealthy and successful they still go through hard times like the rest of us and do things they regret.
It’s far too easy in the Internet age — and I’m as guilty of this as anyone — to sling insults and start fights with zero social consequences. It’s a lot harder to empathize with someone and understand why they might have fucked up as badly as they did.
We don’t yet know exactly what happened between Clarkson and the Top Gear producer he allegedly punched at a hotel. I can’t say whether Clarkson deserves to be fired or not, and I can’t defend workplace violence, either. But there’s a nice lesson in Morgan’s column about forgiveness and trying to understand other people before you judge them.
Hat tip to Colin!
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