U.S. Auto Know Better (Volume 2)

Top Gear in the USA

While you’re enjoying the not-at-all tiresome spectacle of Dick Van Dyke dicking (or dyking) around on roller-skates as part of a major police murder investigation which he has no right to be involved in anyway, I thought I’d do a follow-up to my last blog about Top Gear. This one contains hard evidence of how this ‘Series of Unfortunate Bellends’ catches up with you when you’re an Englishman in the New World, in places you would never possibly expect. It also shows that Top Gear can be prime cultural capital to have in certain situations befacing a border-crossing Briton in and around the US, but only if used judiciously. To the best of my recollection, this is a transcript of a conversation between me and an agent at the border between the Mexico and the USA, having just come back from Tijuana:

(Tom walks up to checkpoint, passport in hand. Agent checks passport)

Agent: So, Top Gear or Fifth Gear?

Tom: Errr, hum, pum, well. Top Gear, I suppose.

Agent: Ah, you like the comedy, huh?

Tom: It’s certainly got that.

Despite my surprise, which evidently turned me into some sort of bumbling British huffer-puffer character in a 40s film played by Nigel Bruce, I couldn’t believe my luck. Instead of tricksy questions about where I’d been, what I’d done, and why the hell I was bothering them, I was being asked about television, something which I have professional expertise in. But this was a double-edged sword. I was about to get ahead of myself.

(Agent winds up ‘interview’. Tom begins to shuffle away)

Tom: They’re changing Top Gear, you know.

Agent: Visibly Alarmed What?!

Tom: They think it’s gotten too comic, so they’ll be less sitcom stuff in it.

Agent: Oh no.

At this point, I’m cursing my own stupidity. Here I had a border agent in the palm of my hand for merely being from the same country as ‘When Bigots Stage Accidents’ and I blow it! Couldn’t just leave it at a few innocuous exchanges, could I? No, I had to provide a production tidbit to bow out on, and then risk an angry border agent who’s just lost his favourite TV show shooting the messenger with extreme prejudice by detaining me forever. He didn’t, and I was on my way. But I’m sure the blow was lightened for him somewhat when this happened mere weeks later:

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