I sent this email to the Top Gear website. I thought it was rather good actually, and perhaps I’d get a stint on TV and even a new car! Oh well:
‘Dear Jeremy [Clarkson],
If I had more control over television viewing I should probably never watch your program but, as we live in a democracy and my husband pays for the TV license, I have watched, I must say with enjoyment, many episodes of Top Gear.
When I was a young woman I took up with a boy (eventually my first husband) who was interested in cars. He started with a bubble car. In this car, a Trojan Heinkel, we sat side by side. It barely did 50 mph but he still managed to get a speeding ticket. The bubble car got me the habit of wincing whenever we went over a bump. I sat next to a wheel arch which bulged inwards and against which I could rest my knees, it was so compact in the cab. There was a crack where the wheel arch met the floor which, each time we went over a bump, grew a bit longer. The time came when more that half the joint was flapping freely, the floor bounced up and down and the road could be seen zooming past under my feet. Happy days!
Next came a Ford Anglia which he modified to have fatter wheels, five and a half Js I seem to remember, and lower suspension. He then progressed to a Frog Eyed Sprite to which he added Webber carburettors necessitating a hole in the bonnet with a ‘power bulge’ over it, so that he could put it down and see over the top of it to drive.
I buzzed about in one mini after another and became familiar with rusty sub frames, jammed starter motors and other more scary faults such as an accelerator cable, jammed at high speed which made for a very noisy trip round a roundabout and through a 30mph residential area.
I moved on. Having broken the boy’s heart I hooked up with his friend (my second husband), another car enthusiast, oh silly me!
A stream of cars followed: Mark 4 Sprites (2), an MGB Gt and a Midget, a Mini Cooper S to name a few. I traipsed round the country to International Austin Healey Days and I watched endless numbers of stationary engines pump water into bath tubs and make light bulbs glow.
I moved on again, not as lightly as it may seem from this flippant letter. I got a job with a proper car, it had air conditioning, electric windows, a heater that worked and a rear windscreen that demisted without leaving stripes across my line of vision. I said goodbye to my old bangers and entered a new age of comfortable motoring.
I met my current and last husband, he drove a Mercedes and then a BMW, I drove a people carrier, life was good. Then he was made redundant. The people carrier became our first car and I, with the help of husband number two bought my current car a, wait for it, J registered Skoda Favorit, for the princely sum of £300.00!
I took it for a drive and found myself smiling. I felt like a student again. It brought back memories of my youth. The time I was driving through country lanes on my way home from work one evening when the straps supporting the seat snapped and I found myself, somewhat surprised, sitting in a metal frame, my bottom on the floor, unable to see out of the windscreen and giggling helplessly. I remembered the carefree days, the driving tests, the drinking then driving on empty roads before the invention of the breathalyser. Every time I get in the car I find myself grinning, and composing this letter to you.
So, here’s the point: I am fed up with hearing you banging on about the speed and excitement to be got out of driving a boring old Ferrari. I defy you to have less fun than driving my Skoda. Try putting it round your track and feel the thrill of the wheel wobble at 50mph, the wonder that it’s still going round a corner at 60mph and the sense of speed at 70mph with everything rattling making you wonder whether it will stay in one piece. Go on, give it a try but remember - if you bend it, you buy it!!!’
Well here’s the reply I got:
‘Thanks for your email.
If you missed Top Gear this week the programme is now repeated on Mondays at 11.20pm on BBC 2. We’re sorry but we are unable to supply VHS copies of past programmes’.
I like to think I am a modern woman although my teenage daughter might dispute this! Email is a wonderful tool if used effectively. But trying to identify the content of an email based on, I can only guess, one or two key words, doesn’t really qualify as effective. I don’t know what you should be doing Top Gear but a polite and accurate ‘bog off’ with thanks would have done the trick for me.