Solo work

Here is a chapter from YM2’s book Celebrity, in which our hero Drax Clayton leads a war on celebrities, but in doing so gains notoriety himself and becomes subject to the social forces he himself had unleashed. Eventually he has to co-operate with his former quarry to get the last ‘copter to Hollywood. In this section he’s just running over Jeremy Clarkson in a tank.


Everything had kicked off in late spring and the celeb magazine hacks were practically wetting themselves with excitement. Even the ‘serious’ papers were relishing a summer of easy copy, on the off chance that an English kid didn’t get snatched by some foreigners. The Guardian had mooted a celebrity victims wall chart, but popular outrage, led by former Sun editor Rebekah Brooks, née Wade, led to its withdrawal pre-release.

Clarkson was an obvious target, yet in his unfortunate way, he had become so convinced of his own invulnerability that he had failed to take even the most basic safety precautions. This is the knob who published his personal details in a national newspaper to attempt to prove identity fraud wasn’t possible. That time he only got robbed, and this time fate wouldn’t be so easy on his hubris.

At the time TV scheduling was continuing almost as normal. GMTV was holding 45 seconds of silence on an increasingly regular basis for the fallen, but ratings for almost everything were through the roof, and applicants for the latest series of the revived Big Brother were at an all time high. TV studios had not yet all moved to secret locations, and BBC 2’s Top Gear, with its macho production values and mindless faith in technology had opted simply to up security measures and issue the entire cast with side-arms whilst continuing to shoot mostly in Dunsford Park, Surrey. Getting hold of a Top Gear boiler suit had merely been a matter of checking the few dry cleaners in the surrounding area. I knew that Richard Hammond was too much of a toff to actually use a washing machine, and that he wouldn’t expect to have to deliver or pick up his own laundry even before this age of uncertainty. After cruising a few of the local towns, I finally found the shop I was looking for on Bramley High Street in the outskirts of Guilford. The woman behind the counter was actually a little reluctant to hand over Hammond’s costume, pointing out that I didn’t have a slip, a note from the guy himself or indeed any kind of Top Gear ID. Luckily I’d done a brief stint in a Sketchley’s myself and, after about half an hour of talking shop with ‘Jayne’, got her to hand over the goods. She might have suspected that I had some unsavoury plans for the Top Gear crew, but a career of removing jizz stains from the duvets of the rich leaves a bitter taste in the mouth and I felt that I had her tacit approval.

Of course, my plan wasn’t to impersonate Hammond. That would be far too obvious, and luckily for me I looked nothing like the tosser. Finishing up in Bramley Linen Care, I headed down to RSVR Racing and picked up a white motorbike helmet with a tinted visor. Since the Bedingfield strike over two months ago I’d being laying low and planning my next move so it should come as no surprise that I had with me a sheet of custom made transfers which I’d carefully cribbed from series 10 of the show, ready to adorn the headpiece.

This was to be the first day of shooting for the first in the new series of Top Gear, and it was touch and go amongst the production team whether The Stig would show. The mysterious fourth presenter and test driver had never before revealed his face on TV and so it would be perfectly possible for him to cut his losses and drop out with whatever cash and contacts he’d managed to accumulate since his first appearance, back in autumn 2003. When I pulled up to the security gate in a (stolen) Audi TT Coupe 2.0 I was already wearing my distinctive helmet and Top Gear standard overalls. Finishing in poll position was something Stig was renowned for only on the track (and in bed, if Broadcasting House rumours are to be believed), as he rarely made it to Dunsford Park before 10am, even though filming always commenced at 8:30 sharp. This was necessary to give them enough time to reshoot the sections of dialogue rendered unusable by Clarkson’s incorrigible racism and homophobia. Perhaps it was my unusual promptness as much as my unwillingness to say anything other than ‘The Stig’ to the girl on the entrance desk that caused the naturally lazy woman to contact one of the production team on her walkie talkie, keeping her MP5 resting on her ample gut and angled towards my head. The toughened glass visor did little to calm my anxiety at the possibility of being shot in the face with this compact and deadly design classic of a weapon.

Because of celebrities’ fears over the reliability of much of the police force, a powerful lobby headed by Geldof and Bono had forced the government to back a bill which permitted the arming of minor celebs with whatever weapons the threatened faction could get their hands on. It had presented no problem for the two main parties to assemble personal armies. Both sides of the bench had firearms enthusiasts aplenty in their Trotskyist and country gentry back-benchers to form loyal guards. Although MPs of all hues would soon be annihilated, or run deep underground as law and order evaporated, at this moment legislation was still relevant.

As I looked up past the barrel of the German 9mm submachine gun I thought I vaguely recognised the owner from Channel 4’s Bricking It, a reality show in which workshy teenage layabouts were trained in various building trades in an attempt to get them to contribute positively to the economy. Then again I couldn’t be sure. After what seemed like hours there was the sound of some chatting from the other end of the guard’s walkie talkie and she waved me through. I was sweating in my boiler suit, but luckily the air conditioning system was more than up to matching my anxiety, which is one of the features that Clarkson brought out in his embarrassingly gushing review of the car for the ‘best looking coupe’ feature of 2010. By the time I pulled up outside the aerodrome studio I was feeling collected again. Bringing my vehicle to a screeching handbrake stop I jumped out to be confronted by an obviously nervous Hammond.

‘It’s, uh, very brave of you to show up’ he managed, hand nervously on the .38 Desert Eagle Special tucked into his utility belt. The man was a wreck, his ostentatious choice of weapon an obvious bluff. Rumour had it that he’d never really recovered from the crash of 2007 which had left him with a renewed awareness of his own mortality. I speculated that Clarkson’s bullying was the only thing that kept him on the show.

‘Hammo!’ boomed the wanker himself, bounding up on Hammond and clapping him on the back, which drew a wince from the beleaguered co-star. Clarkson was obviously overjoyed about something, and from the way he was dragging some blond toff by the hand I deduced he’d found a temporary outlet for his much vaunted heterosexuality.

‘The Stig!’ he shouted at me, ‘better keep that helmet on, or I’ll bog wash you again!’ I declined to reply, and he pissed off in pursuit of the horsey looking girl who had quickly lost interest and left. Hammond looked crestfallen and slunk off to a decommissioned double-decker bus which was being used as a temporary caff, dispensing tea and coffee in styrene cups.

The tea in these places is always diabolical. There seems to be a mentality that the lacklustre temperature of tea can be compensated for by its strength, so that if a brew is luke-warm, its super-strength will somehow even things out. I like my tea to be close to boiling and not overly strong, a preference which sets me at odds with both convenience culture and most tea drinkers. I don’t follow the argument that if you like tea to be stronger you somehow like it more. Does the drinker of Special Brew hold a monopoly on appreciation of beer? There is nothing wrong with a predisposition for weak tea, but admitting to it in public seems to always entail some form of condescension from your English peers.

I had no time to take refreshment – quite aside from the difficulty that it would pose to my disguise, I had more pressing matters to attend. The car park had been unimaginatively arranged with Clarkson’s motor (a flashy Range Rover TDV8) occupying an extra large space immediately in front of the hangar-studio. Presumably the intent was to confer prestige on the poodle-haired dickhead, but it actually just made it look like his reverse parking skills were lacking. I was casually walking over to CLRK ONE when an anonymous BBC producer type with pursed lips pushed a clipboard into my hands and sauntered off. I quick glance revealed that I’d struck gold – this was the shooting schedule for the day and it detailed all of the different vehicles that were going to be put through their paces. Sections had been highlighted which were of direct relevance to The Stig. I skimmed the document and then read the first couple of items in detail. For some reason Clarkson was going to be driving over a new electric car in a tank, but not before The Stig had proved that the Challenger could beat the Daihatsu Neutral in time trials.

As if on cue, I heard the low rumbling of a twin engined Challenger as it pulled into the aerodrome complex. I noted the metal tracks which, I understood, civilians were forbidden from driving on UK roads. Not only was this show a drain on BBC license payers’ fees, even those citizens who avoided financially propping up bloated public broadcasting were forced to foot the bill for this ego-driven wear and tear on the road system. The tank pulled up and parked, as best as its driver was able, alongside the coupes, hatchbacks and saloons of the cast and crew. I clocked a new, bottle green Daihatsu Neutral, which in most respects looked like any other overpriced modern motor vehicle, over by the tank. A guy in army fatigues had jumped out of the tank hatch and was jogging over to me. For a moment I thought he was going to salute me, but instead he gave me a quick rundown of the controls. It was pretty basic stuff really, but he insisted in showing me in the actual cockpit so I followed him over. The guy wasn’t wearing any insignia and I suspected that he was just some kind of army nut as opposed to a member of the forces. He was in his late 30s and had a bit of a paunch. I also suspected that the army would insist on some kind of exchange of documentation before they handed over a tank, or any form of armoured assault vehicle. My suspicions were confirmed when Clarkson loudly hailed him from inside the studio doors. The two were obviously mates, though I doubt their friendship went very much deeper than the various toys and gadgets that they envied of each other. Clarkson seemed like a 10 year old boy to me in many respects, completely out of his depth in almost all situations yet possessing the body and bank account he needed to indulge his cruel, bullying instincts.

I clambered up onto the Challenger and entered the cockpit through the open hatch. The engine was still running. Despite what you hear in the news, most weaponry isn’t at a super-advanced stage. Smart bombs are pretty much the same as the explosives dropped all over Germany and Europe 60 years ago, and a tank still basically has two levers, one to go forwards and backwards and one to turn. There was a whole lot of sophisticated computer technology which controlled the weapons system, but I had no interest in that for the time being. I stuck my head out of the hatch and saw that Clarkson had got into the Neutral with Mrs Horse and was pointing to something on the dashboard and laughing loudly. The army boy was about to get up onto the tank, but he fell back when I pulled the tank noisily out of its parking spot, leaving the hatch open.

It was going to be tall order beating Clarkson in race around the track. Few people realise that a Challenger can hit a top speed over 70mph, but acceleration is slow and cornering isn’t what you’d call responsive. Clarkson must have known this, which is why he’d chosen The Stig, the superior driver, to take the tank. This must have presented a problem for his ego, but I reckoned that he thought the cause of anti-environmentalism called for it.

Frankly, I’d had enough of hanging around with this group of tossers, so after I’d reversed the tank about ten metres I immediately drove forwards, right over the Daihatsu containing Clarkson and companion. The car buckled straight away and I was jolted sharply in my bucket seat. Thanks to the marvellous all terrain capabilities of the Challenger the experience was no worse than taking a speed bump at 40. I let the engine idle for a bit and stuck my head out of the hatch to survey the damage. Over the engine noise and rattle I could make out a lot of screaming, but the car and its occupants had completely disappeared from view. A few inconsequential crew members were running around in a panic. Initially there was still the possibility that this was a tragic accident, but when I lifted my visor to get a better look at the state of play the deception became apparent to Richard Hammond, who presumably knew the Stig on personal terms. With Clarkson a write-off it seemed that he could finally emerge from the arsehole’s shadow. Hammond dropped to one knee in an obviously rehearsed combat stance in front of my Challenger. He drew his .44 Desert Eagle and managed to squeeze off a few rounds before I had the chance to duck back into the cockpit. Luckily for me the TV star’s aim was piss poor, and he was about to go down in history as the guy that both almost died in a car crash and almost stopped Drax Clayton. He emptied about six of the eight case magazine uselessly into the body of the tank before I ran him over, leaving nothing but an unrecognisable mess smeared on the tarmac. I drove over a few more of the cars on the strip, although everyone else had the good sense to stay out of my way. Before I busted out, I rammed the catering bus, which toppled over after a couple of shoves, then I gave it the same treatment as the cars, reversing back over it from a different angle to make sure that I’d flattened the whole body beneath my treads. Leaving the way I’d come in I popped my head out to check that the guard (an erstwhile brickie whose name I had remembered was Sophs) was in her shack before I mowed that down and abandoned the tank in a nearby field. As I’d expected of the army nut, there was a small arsenal concealed in the furthest recesses of the tank, and I selected an easily concealable handgun and a few rounds in case I had any difficulty escaping the scene of the crime. As it happened, no-one followed me, so I just made my way back to Guildford by foot, stopping on the way to pick up a late breakfast in a greasy spoon by on the A281.


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