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In I Know You Got Soul, Jeremy Clarkson writes about the machines that he believes have 'soul'.
It will come as no surprise to anyone that Jeremy Clarkson loves machines. But it's not just any old bucket of blots, cogs and bearings that rings his bell. In fact, he's scoured the length and breadth of the land, plunged into the oceans and taken to the skies in search of machines with that elusive certain something.
And along the way he's discovered:
The safest place to be in the event of nuclear war
Who would win if Superman, James Bond and The Terminator had a fight
The stupidest person he's ever met
What an old Cornish institution called Arthur has to do with 0898 chat lines
And how jean-Claude Van Damme might get eaten by a lion
In I Know You Got Soul, Jeremy Clarkson tells stories of the geniuses, innovators and crackpots who put the ghost in the machine. From Brunel's SS Great Britain to the awesome Blackbird spy-plane and from the woeful - but inspiring - Graf Zeppelin to Han Solo's Millennium Falcon, they can't help but love them in return.
I suppose the inspiration for this book came from my reaction to the Concorde crash in Paris. Normally when a plane goes down we mourn for the people on board, but on this occasion I found myself mourning, most of all, the death of the machine. How could something so wondrous and dazzling have come to grief? It really was as shocking as the death, just down the road, in fact, of Princess Diana.
The fact is that most machines are just a collection of wires and plastic. The computer, for instance, on which I've written this book has no more of a heart than a Toyota Corolla, which in turn is no more soulful than a Corby trouser press.
But some machines do have a soul. Sometimes, as is the case with Concorde and the AK 47, it's because they possess that most human of qualities, a flaw, and sometimes it's because they were born carrying the genetic fingerprint of a foolish and misguided inventor. Count Zeppelin springs to mind here.
Whatever, just about all the machines here have formed the backbone of some incredible stories, none more so than the Spitfire. Of course we remember 'the few' whose bravery held back the Nazi hordes in that balmy summer of 1940. But, secretly, we know that much of their success was attributable to the incredible speed and manoeuvrability of the aeroplane they flew.
And yes, before you raise an eyebrow, I know all about the Hurricane but it lacks the film-star looks somehow, and the glamour. And anyway, I can't pretend this book is a comprehensive list of all the machines ever made with a soul. Nor is there any scientific basis for the choices. My editor and I simply went out for lunch one day and came up with a list on the back of a napkin. They were machines we liked, picked for emotional reasons, using our hearts rather than our heads.
The hard part was choosing which machine from a particular genre should be singled out. All battleships, for instance, had soul by the bucketful principally because they were flawed and usually useless, but there was only space here to look at one so I went for the biggest. And most useless of them all – the astonishing Yamato.
The next difficult bit was choosing what to leave out. The Gibson Les Paul should be here, I know, but unfortunately, before I had the chance to include it the producer of Top Gear rang and said I really must get back to the bothersome business of making television programmes.
Riva Millennium Falcon
SS Great Britain
Alfa Romeo 166
ISBN: 9780141022925 ISBN-10: 0141022922 Audience:
Number Of Pages: 256 Published: July 2006 Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd Country of Publication: GB Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 13.0
Weight (kg): 0.3
Edition Number: 1
Jeremy Charles Robert Clarkson (born April 11, 1960) is an English broadcaster and writer who specialises in motoring.
He writes weekly columns for The Sunday Times and The Sun, but is better known for his role on the BBC television program Top Gear.
From a career as a local journalist in the north of England, he rose to public prominence as a presenter of the original format of Top Gear in 1988. Since the mid-1990s Clarkson has become a recognised public personality, regularly appearing on British television presenting his own shows and appearing as a guest on other shows. As well as motoring, Clarkson has produced programmes and books on subjects such as history and engineering. From 1998 to 2000 he also hosted his own chat show, Clarkson.
His opinionated but humorous tongue-in-cheek writing and presenting style has often generated much public reaction to his viewpoints. His actions both privately and as a Top Gear presenter have also sometimes resulted in criticism from the media, politicians, pressure groups and the public.
As well as the criticism levelled against him, Clarkson also generated a significant following in the public at large, being credited as a factor in the resurgence of Top Gear to the most popular show on BBC Two, and calls for him to be made Prime Minister. Clarkson himself was keen to downplay his perceived influence on the British public, stating he regularly contradicts himself, and would make a "rubbish" Prime Minister