Not for the first time, Jeremy Clarkson has sparked controversy with his opinions.
In a newspaper column entitled “No time to horse around”, the former Top Gear presenter bemoaned the fact that he was held up on his way to filming by “a young girl who had decided to exercise her pet horse in the middle of what’s a very narrow road”.
Clarkson estimated the speed of the horse’s trot to be about 8mph, adding that the rider “made no effort at all, for two miles” to get out of the way.
He said he had to “sit there, fuming”, behind her, going on to criticise the fact “horse enthusiasts” are calling for the speed limit to be reduced on rural roads.
“Well diddums,” he finished. “They should be reminded it’s 2017. Not the stone age. And if they want to have a pet, they should get a guinea pig.”
So. Lots of outrage on social media. And it’s fair to say Clarkson’s sense of humour may not be shared by all, and people have their own opinions of him.
But. He may well have a point.
Reading his account of what actually happened (whether it was really two miles or not we’re not sure, and even if it was, travelling at 8mph rather than the speed appropriate to a “very narrow” road wouldn’t have made much difference to his arrival time) some facts emerge.
Although his exhaustive list of things horses are scared of included “just about everything”, Clarkson also stated that he didn’t rev his engine or beep his horn, as either would have scared the horse. He went on to add that had he done so “it would have bolted and she’d have been killed and there’d have been a lot of paperwork”. This statement might not appeal to everyone’s humour but by his account, he didn’t drive inconsiderately.
What could actually be the case – and again, we only have Clarkson’s version of events – is that the girl may have been riding inconsiderately. At least she was trotting on, but if she really did just stick in front of him and make no effort to get out of the way, that’s the sort of thing that gives all riders a bad name.
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Yes, there are a lot of horrendously ignorant, inconsiderate and dangerous drivers out there. But we all have to share the roads. And if we make an effort to get out of drivers’ way, and be seen, and thank those who do pass considerately, they’re more likely to do the same next time.
Annoy them and what are they going to think? And what could happen then? We can’t make ourselves entirely safe on the roads, but we have to be responsible for being as safe as possible. And that includes being as considerate to drivers as we want them to be to us.
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