The Top Gear presenter is loved here more than anywhere else
Readers of Jeremy Clarkson’s most recent Sunday Times column might not be surprised to find him casually scorning Americans, France, Greece, Spain and Germany, but they might be surprised to read his kind words for Poland. The host of Top Gear, The Grand Tour and Clarkson’s Farm even suggests that it might make sense to emigrate from a troubled Britain to the land of pierogi and Pope John Paul II. “We’re sitting around now moaning about how all the lorry drivers and builders have gone home to Poland and won’t come back,” writes Clarkson:
I do not think it is presumptuous of me to say that Mr Clarkson would be welcomed with open arms. He is generally popular here. In 2006 the Guardian reported that the Polish translation of The World According to Clarkson was “a… runaway literary success, sitting atop the bestseller list of the country’s biggest bookshop, Empik.” Top Gear Live broke attendance records in Warsaw in 2013. In 2015, I was in my local bar when one of the regulars, a giant man with whom I had almost got into a fight the previous week, stormed in and strode in my direction, fuming. I was preparing to die when I realised that his outraged invective was peppered with the word “Clarkson”. He was angry that the Top Gear host had been fired. We got on after that.
This popularity might surprise some readers given Clarkson’s more mischievous jokes about the country. As he writes in his column, though, Poles love a joke. They have enough of their own at the of expense Russians, Germans and other European countries.
It’s also true that Poland’s economic boom led to an explosion in car sales. The number of cars registered in Poland rose by more than 600% between the early 1980s and the early 2010s. As the Financial Times reported in 2019, “Poland’s growing middle class is increasingly splashing out on the finer things in life.” It is no surprise that Clarkson’s fast cars and fine travelling appeals to many increasingly rich and aspirational Central and Eastern Europeans.
Having lived in Poland for nearly 10 years, I can personally attest to the hospitality of the people here. If Mr Clarkson were to emigrate, I suspect he would receive a hero’s welcome. Perhaps he could even adopt a more Polish-sounding name: witaj, Jeremiusz Clarksonski!