Shame on Jeremy Clarkson:
"God tells us that there are 10 rules in life: Sir Thomas Beecham, the conductor, maintained that there was only one Ė try everything except incest and folk dancing. Most people, however, reckon there are two. Never meet your heroes. And never turn your hobby into a job.
There is, however, a third rule. Itís a big one. Itís bigger than the one that says you should never meet Chuck Yeager, the US test pilot who became a hero for breaking the sound barrier, because heíll turn out to be deeply unpleasant. Itís bigger than the one about not coveting your neighbourís wife. Itís even bigger than not doing morris dancing.
It is known simply as Rule Three and what it says is this: do not, under any circumstances, become an expat.
You may be thinking of moving to South Africa because some communists have smashed the windows in your agreeable home. You may imagine that you should go to New Zealand because the police have found a builder with a broken bottom in your swimming pool. Or you may consider moving to a cave on the North West Frontier because you have knocked over some skyscrapers.
But donít give in. It is always better to stay where you are and face the music. Even if the music in question is the tinkling of your broken sitting room window or the screams of other prisoners in the showers or the gristly, gooey sound of your fingernails coming out.
The fact of the matter is this: every single person who ever moves to another country Ė with the exception of America where you go to grow Ė is a failure. Seriously, no one has ever woken up and said: ďI am completely happy. I have a lovely family, many friends, a great job and plenty of savings. So I shall move to Australia.Ē
Itís always the other way around. ďMy wife has left me. My children donít want to know. The divorce cost a bundle and I donít have any mates. So I shall move to Oz.Ē Thatís why they call us whingeing poms. Because the poms they get do nothing else.
Of course, I have been to a great many palm-fronted island paradises and Iíve thought, as Iíve watched the sunlight dancing in my rum punch, how lovely it would be to live in a place where you just wear shorts and read books.
But I know two things. First, home is not where you live; itís where your friends are. And second, within a week, Iíd be a raging alcoholic. Iíd start by trying not to drink before 12. But then itíd be 10 and before I knew it Iíd be pouring gin on my cornflakes and my nose would be enormous and covered in what look like barnacles.
Then the drink-addled bitterness would set in. Iíd realise that my existence was shallow and pointless and that every girl I ever met would either be made from leather or interested only in men who had 65ft cruisers in the harbour. Not noses that looked like the bottom of a battleship.
To keep myself sane, Iíd have to keep reminding myself, by reminding absolutely everyone within earshot, constantly, that I couldnít possibly live in Britain because itís full of bloody foreigners who hadnít bothered to learn English. Then Iíd summon Manuel and, in English, order another pint of gin.
I was in Majorca last weekend, which is jammed full of British expats all of whom would begin their explanation of how they got there with the same thing: ďWell, after I sold the cab . . .Ē
There they were, in their chips and footie bars with their desperate eyes and their booze-ruined noses, regaling everyone with their stuck-record views on life back in Blighty.
ďDonít know how you can live in Britain. Bloody weather. Bloody Muslims. Bloody Brown,Ē and then, after a wistful pause, ď. . . you donít have a copy of todayís Telegraph do you?Ē
Iíve always felt desperately sorry for expats and now, of course, life wherever they may be is even worse than ever because, all of a sudden, their hacienda is worth less than the plot of land they built it on 10 years ago, and they canít let the holiday flat they bought to supplement their pension. Which is now worthless as well.
Itís proof really that there is no God. Because no one whoís supposed to be a force for good would keep on hitting people like that. ďIím going to make you so miserable, lonely and friendless that you break Rule Three. And then Iím going to take away your home, and your income until you are a homeless drunk in a land where you canít speak the language and youíre vomiting gin into the gutter through your barnacle-encrusted nose at three in the morning.Ē Youíd have to be a complete bastard to inflict that much pain on someone.
Sadly, I fear that in the coming months, as deflation takes hold, a great many people will begin to wonder if life wouldnít be happier on the sunny side.
I urge you all to think carefully. Even if theyíve taken your land and your homes, they cannot take your friends. Or your family. And no matter how infrequently your children drop by now, you can trust me on this: if you live abroad, youíll probably never see them again. Ever.
You will sit there in a bar, in your stupid Hawaiian shirt, pretending the waiter is a friend, reading the barcode on a two-year-old copy of The Week, trying desperately to convince yourself that you are happy. But you wonít be, because abroad is where you go on holiday. Britain is home.
And you know what? Yes itís cold. Yes itís run by idiots. And yes, I wasnít bothered about Jade Goody either. But at least we donít throw our donkeys off tower blocks and we donít cook our food in the garden. And because itís always 57 degrees and drizzling, we are less inclined to sit outside all day getting sloshed."