The Sunday before last I was leafing through my weekend newspaper and happened across one of those articles that explains the 'which, what and how to' of buying a 64-registered new car.
It’s the sort of article that many years ago I could have written. Never mind – I’m old and out of touch, so good luck to the young hack who has driven all the latest cars and knows what he is writing about.
Except the chap who had written the article is not a journalist, he's a comedian; one who’s been on telly a lot, though not so much recently. He is turning at me from the pages of my newspaper and holding a registration plate with '64' on it.
I like famous people. I don’t mind celebrity culture and all that. They can be useful in drawing attention to things, such as cars, features, or books.
And if a manufacturer is paying them, fine. It’s a job and the job is done if the celebrity makes someone stop and look twice at a car or issue that they wouldn’t otherwise have noticed.
What I can’t abide, though, is a DJ or chef telling me that the car they are reviewing is any good; unless they can actually write and unless they know what they are writing about.
That is the be all and end all really. Some people who are famous for a living can actually write. If they can write and genuinely know their subject then that’s fine. Writing about cars should not be a closed shop.
If you needed to have a degree in English, have been on a journalism course, or worked as a cub reporter on a local paper for a few years, then that’s me banned from typing another word.
All a writer has to do is entertain and inform. PJ O’Rourke, Auberon Waugh and George Bishop are just three of my favourites. Any of those writers could re-write the telephone directory and make it funny, informative and thought provoking.
Their words are a lesson to those of us who get lazy and use clichés and forget what our job actually is.
So any thoughts on celebrity car reviewers?