Uppers and downers

Poor Michael Jackson. I know he was (probably) a kiddie fiddler and his music was crap, but that didn’t stop me empathising when watching Michael Jackson’s Last Days: What Really Happened (Channel 4, Sunday). Give or take the odd nose, skin-whitening operation, lurid court case, moon walk and dwindling multimillion-dollar fortune, there but for the grace of God went most of us.

I’m talking about that hideous moment in your life when you realise you’ve bitten off more than you can chew and you’ve only two options left: either achieve the impossible or take the easy way out. This is the choice Jacko faced when he ‘agreed’ to do those 50 comeback concerts at the O2 arena. At 50, having not danced for a decade, raddled with vast quantities of prescription uppers and downers, he must have known his body wasn’t up to the job of giving his fans and promoters the extravaganzas they wanted. So he tried — and even attempted to lay off the drugs till the pain grew too much — and his body said, ‘Sorry, mate. No can do.’ Anyone trying to earn a living out of writing these days will know just what he went through.

But enough morbid self-pity. Top Gear (BBC 2, Sunday). We all love Top Gear, of course. How could any Spectator reader not? It has, over the years, grown into the closest thing this country has yet been able to produce to a credible opposition to New Labour’s nanny-state tyranny.

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