BY GARY MCGHEE
There are three TV series being broadcast next year that I’m really looking forward to watching. One is the final series of Better Call Saul, the excellent spinoff from Breaking Bad, the other is the next series of the wonderful crime drama Vera, with the brilliant Brenda Blethyn, with sweeping shots of the stunning moorland countryside of Geordie-land, which has created a new term in our house ‘being Vera’d’, which means being outwitted. The third is the revelatory and superbly entertaining Clarkson’s Farm. The highly deserved recipient of a British Farming Award for ‘Flying the Flag for British Farming’, saw Clarkson and young salt of the Earth Cotswold farmer Kaleb Cooper teaming up, and producing the best and funniest TV double-act in years.
The pairing is inspired. Kaleb, brought up on a farm in the deepest Cotswolds, who had never ventured further than Banbury, and only went there if he had to, alongside the louche, bohemian, ex-public school, millionaire, metropolitan petrol-head, who has travelled everywhere and thinks he’s seen everything. What could go wrong? Opposites do attract, but they also repulse, and this makes for some hilarious set-ups, mishaps, and glorious exchanges. Then there’s the affable, ruddy-faced, jolly Gerald, with an accent that is indecipherable, and which frequently leaves Clarkson having no idea what he’s saying, which is unfortunate given that he has a lifetime of experience to impart. This is all comedy gold. One funny encounter is when Clarkson ‘builds’ a dry-stone wall to make up for a miscalculated gate width, and Gerald has a look, gives it a kick and demolishes it in one go. Another is when Kaleb is reluctantly sent on a mission down to that London to try and flog some of Clarkson’s shoddy river-grown wasabi plants to chic West End restaurants. Talk about a fish out of water. This included a trip up to the top of The Shard, with suitably amusing consequences for a lad who’d never been in a tall building before. He made diddly squat out of the wasabi of course.
Clarkson’s sardonic wit and dead-pan style in the face of often self-inflicted calamities contrasted wonderfully with Kaleb’s exasperation at Clarkson’s persistent habit of not listening to advice and having to rescue the situation. Of course, a lot of it was set-up to an extent, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that serious points were being made and demonstrated about how difficult farming is, how hard farmers must work, and are totally at the mercy of the weather gods and the devils of ludicrous Sir Humphrey government bureaucracy. Want to apply to do or change anything? Oh, that’ll be 15 online forms to fill in and a lengthy wait for a response. After a year of diseased Rape-fields, escaped sheep, contaminated mineral water, a hopelessly mud-stranded, oversized Lamborghini, (I kid you not), tractor, a sooth-saying reality-check inspection friend, a grain storage facility that was too small, local youths setting fire to hay bales, a farm shop enterprise that was doomed to ignominious failure… the farm also made, err, diddly squat.
But the overall point was to show the realities of farming in today’s world. It ain’t easy, it ain’t for the feckless, and there is increasingly less money in it. No wonder farmers are selling their land to property developers. However, we rely on them to supply us with fresh food, locally grown, that hasn’t used air miles, road haulage and shipping containers to get here. Someone’s got to do it if we want that to continue. One of my farming neighbours has recently opened a Farm Shop selling local produce, much of it grown and reared on the farm, that is proving to be very popular. Why? Because people want good quality food that they know has been produced responsibly and properly down the road. (Delivered via one’s bicycle in a basket, as Neil Oliver so eloquently put it.) We also rely on them to preserve wildlife, create, and enhance wild spaces and plant more trees as Clarkson has. Farmers and landowners are the true custodians, the people that get things done, not the bureaucrats and Town Hall officials or uncivil servants hiding behind their laptops.
The Government seems hell-bent on undermining that and exacerbating the problem with ill thought-out ‘Green’ and so-called animal ‘Rights’ initiatives that take little account of their impact on farmers and those who keep livestock, manage, live and work the land. Pandering to a Townie view of the countryside, with their ignorant pie-in-the-sky ideas about ‘rewilding’ and ‘sustainable development’ and ‘urban renewal and expansion,’ and a host of other buzzwords and impressive sounding slogans that have a sinister undertow. Build Back Better and Level Up with more ‘affordable’ houses, fitted with air-source heat pumps, that are unsuitable for Britain’s older housing stock, which makes up the vast majority, and if made mandatory would put an extra financial burden onto homeowners in the context of increasing energy and fuel costs… net zero carbon is about pricing fossil fuel out of the reach of ordinary people, forcing us to have no choice, and all of this at the expense of productive land. One gets the impression that Big Pharma and Big Agriculture and Big Government want to have us eating synthetic, genetically modified, lab grown Frankenfood, oh and even insects, which are abundant and full of protein dontchaknow. Meal worms in gravy, crispy Cricket tempura and Fly pie anyone?
It is naive to think that the running down of our own stocks of Gas, the dragging of official feet on exploiting our abundant shale Gas/Fracking capability and building enough small-scale nuclear power stations, is not part of a drive to limit our freedom and choices. Why are the intolerable, middle-class, cultist eco-fanatics of Sphincter Rebellion and Insult Britain given the softly-softly approach by police? Even they themselves are amazed and surprised by it. The hard-working, undermined public smell a manipulating rat and are disgusted by both.
Of course, if the New World Order have their way we will be forced to live in cities, in high-rises, with the latest smart technology that is connected directly into the databanks of surveillance authorities. Smart for who? In whose interests? The digital economy, the doing away with cash, will put control of ‘our’ money, our economic freedom, directly into their hands. You’d best conform to their regulations, Citizen Smith, lest you incur a negative social credit rating and have your photo shown all over social media as part of a name and shame directive. These apartments or shoe boxes will not be ‘owned’, they will be allocated to us by the State. People will not be able to afford to live anywhere else. We will be left with, you guessed it, diddly squat.
The model for all this is China, who have been busily doing exactly that. The absurdity of the biggest polluter on the planet not attending the virtue-signalling, ultra-hypocritical jamboree of Cop26, is best understood by the fact that they admire what China has done and seek to emulate it. It’s only pesky western democracy that gets in the way. How convenient Covid has been in dry running all of this. Scotland and New Zealand act like test-bed states for authoritarianism, under the guise of ‘protecting’ our ‘safety’. The British public is expected to ‘protect the NHS’ when it is the NHS that needs massive reform and should be working better for us. This is about softening up the public for a future of control, conformity, and servility. (Those who persist in wearing face masks unnecessarily are not cowards, they are the new conformists.) China and Russia have been watching proceedings at Cop26 remotely. Soon all governments will be following suit, addressing citizens via virtual networks, looking down on us from their technocratic ivory towers. Mark ZuckerBorg has created a virtual world that people can escape to when the real world that technocrats like him have created is made unbearable and dystopic. How kind.
So, bless our Jeremy Clarkson, a national treasure, despite his ego and bluster, because he is a real person, not a fake, New World Order apparatchik like our political leaders. He has clearly been on a fruitful journey and his decision to persevere with his farm on the back no doubt of the success of the series, is a wonderful thing, a thoroughly British slice of old-school eccentricity and humour with a serious, vital, and educational message. And bless Kaleb, the sort of young man with a wealth of practical knowledge and a can-do attitude, who would fight for his country and who you would want beside you in the metaphorical trenches. And Gerald, stoic and dependable, and everyone else in this country who has worked out what our governments are up to. They see us for sure, but we are now seeing them back.
Gary McGhee is a semi-retired screenwriter, loving the outdoor life with his partner in the Norfolk countryside. Gary was ‘red-pilled’ before it became fashionable, and believes in liberty, freedom, modernism, and defying herd-mentalities.