December, 2008. I had been in Korea for almost a year and was still struggling, adjusting. It was a hard thing, being away from home like that. I had tried to fit in. I did all the things an expat might do. I was actually having fun, mostly.
The hardest times were those when I was alone. It was tough being alone. Too many things to think about. Home, family, school, what I should do next. I couldn’t sleep. I never could. Too much to think about.
Being from Canada, I didn’t hear much about Top Gear growing up. Maybe it was on TV, I don’t remember. I didn’t really know anything about it.
Christmas was the hardest for me, being away. That particular Christmas I remember a news feed linking to an article about this British show. I remember it saying they were in Vietnam. I managed to find the show and watch it.
Maybe it is too much to say a relationship was born then. Maybe. Although it feels like that is what it was. Of a sort, anyway.
I watched that episode. Series 12, episode 8. The Vietnam special. I remember laughing. I remember thinking that I hadn’t legitimately laughed in a long time. It wasn’t even an episode about cars. I like cars, but that wasn’t it. It was watching three guys, friends, mates, traversing the Vietnamese landscape on scooters.
I slept easy that night. For those 80 or so minutes I didn’t think about anything aside from those guys. I remember it felt like a relief.
For the next month or so I watched every episode. I fell asleep listening to it in the background. Crazy? Maybe. It relaxed me. I wasn’t sure what it was.
For the next seven or so years probably the one constant in my life was that show. I wait for the new series just after the end of a current one. I watch the reruns of the old series continuously. It is my background noise.
People might say I like the sound of an engine. I do. I love the sound of an engine. Always have. Ironically I have an Evo X in a garage in Canada. I should sell it, considering Korea is my permanent home. It’s hard to sell though. I’m a bit of a petrol head I suppose.
Honestly though, it isn’t for the cars I watch it. I don’t think that is the case for most. The soundtrack that has been playing in the background of my life the past seven years is that of a friendship.
I read a quote today which called the cast a bunch of kids unwilling to grow up. School yard boys that have never grown into men. Jeremy, supposedly being the worst.
Perhaps that is true. Whether or not it is I could hardly care less. Maybe it is in fact,THAT fact in which I love the most. Who wants to grow up? I see the years rolling by like everyone else, but the never-ever-land of that set is something I wish I could be a part of. I kind of felt like I was.
Fast forward to July 2010. In a hotel room in Seoul after a night out drinking to start a vacation. I fell asleep watching Episode 5 from Series 13. It was still playing on repeat when I woke up to a phone call from my sister telling me my father had died. We never watched the show together, but he loved cars. It was his passion. He had taken to watching it on my behest. Ironically he said, like me, he loved it because of the hosts, hardly caring about the cars. I never could watch that episode again. Weird how things stick in one’s memory like that.
I watched the rest of Series 13 on the flight home for the funeral. I watched some reruns, too. The Vietnam special among them.
The next Christmas was the hardest. I remember watching the Middle East special in a coffee shop in the Dapsimni district of Seoul. I thought it was weird that the coffee shop served eggs with coffee for free.
2013 I found myself back in Canada. My life had taken a couple of nose dives after my dad passed. I was living alone in a small Toronto apartment. I didn’t really have enough money to pay for cable. It didn’t matter much. I watched the same thing I had always done. Sixth time, seventh time, tenth time for some episodes. They didn’t ever really get old. I just needed background noise.
This all will make me sound like a crazy fan. Honestly, I don’t think that is what I am at all. Circumstance, living without a proper TV leads to such things. One thing I can say is that in the past seven years no matter how fucked up things have gotten, the one thing I could always rely on was that show and those three dudes.
So, yesterday’s decision ended and era for me as much as for anyone else. It was a shock to the system, if I’m being honest, as the normalcy I had known for years felt shattered.
It felt weird to turn on a rerun even as part of routine. Felt weird to not do so. Weirdly the first thing that happened when I heard the news was it hit me how I had relied on the show like some people rely on comfort food. There wasn’t anymore background noise.
Sure, I’ll always be able to watch reruns. They will make new shows, might even come back to the same.
It will, however, never be the same. At least not for me. I’m not excusing what he did, honestly we probably never will really know what happened. The sad part is this kind of thing probably doesn’t effect the people involved nearly as much as it does the fan. Ending of an era, indeed.
For some of us, music isn’t what it takes to sooth the soul. It takes a pedantic pianist, an angry hamster,
and a loud, brash, filter-less orangutan. A dinosaur, perhaps.
“All the dinosaurs died and now, years later, no-one mourns their passing. These big, imposing creatures have no place in a world that has moved on.” – Jeremy Clarkson
Not everyone, so easily.
March 27th, 2015.
Seoul, South Korea.