We are told that because there are 12 signs of the zodiac, all humankind can be split into a dozen distinct groups. Those born in February and March like to weep at the slightest provocation. Those born in August like to boss everyone around. And those born in May like to invade Poland. And because Lisa Stansfield and I were born on the same day, we are to all intents and purposes the same person.
Of course, this is nonsense, because it isn’t just the positioning of various stars that determines what a child grows up to be like. It’s where you’re born. What gender you are, and whether your father is an emeritus professor in classical theology. Or a van driver.
Yes, there are 12 signs of the zodiac, but there are also 195 countries, an endlessly elastic gene pool, five climate zones and two sexes – unless you work for the BBC where apparently there’s a third, called ‘transgender’. The options, then, are enormous. So enormous that even with six billion souls currently calling Planet Earth home, no two are even remotely similar.
Except for one thing. I believe that in fact there are only seven different types of people living today. There are Poohs, Piglets, Tiggers, Owls, Rabbits, Kangas and Eeyores. If you are not like one of these AA Milne characters, then you are a dolphin or a tree. Unless you are a Roo, in which case you are a child.
Conjure up any name you like. Nigella Lawson? Kanga. Simon Cowell? Pooh. Nicholas Witchell? Piglet. Gordon Brown? Tree. See what I mean?
James May is an Eeyore. He is convinced that he suffers from a disease unknown to medical science and that he will die soon. He also believes that he will end up working in a shoe shop and that whatever he tries to do will end in ultimate failure. On this score at least, he is correct.
I haven’t spoken to James for several weeks now, but I keep up with his comings and goings in the Daily Telegraph. And as a result, I am aware that just before Christmas, he bought a slightly used, Eeyore-grey Ferrari 430. And that hours after he signed on the dotted line, the longest cold snap in modern British history rendered the roads entirely unsuitable to anything that didn’t have a Massey Ferguson badge on the grille.
As a Tigger, I find this fantastically funny. Normally, snow is an endless source of amusement because you can watch old ladies being splashed by slush and tweedy women falling over. But now it has brought another little bonus. James can’t drive his new car until it’s gone away. And by the time that happens, we’ll be on our world tour, so he can’t drive it then either. And when we get back, we’ll start filming again, which means he will never drive his new Ferrari ever. “Worraworraworra,” as Tigger would say.
I do not wish to dwell once again on the shortcomings of the supercar. But in short: you cannot drive them if it is anything other than 57°F and dry; you cannot leave them at the side of the road in any town where there has ever been a crime; you cannot fit anything you have bought into the boot – and you will get very dirty fingernails lifting up the bonnet to discover this – and you cannot enjoy the speeds they deliver if you live in Hammersmith. In other words, they are almost completely useless.
This is perfect if you are an Eeyore, because you crave misery and disappointment. The toast always lands butter-side down. Your glass is not just half empty but broken. Your life is pointless, and anyone who tells you otherwise is just after your money. What little of it there is these days.
I once employed a cleaner like this. It didn’t matter how bright the day, she would always find something wrong with it. She should have had a Ferrari. It would have made her feel better.
“It’s the oddest thing, but I have never seen anyone driving a Scenic with whom I’d like to mate. All Scenics are driven by gargoyles”
But what if you are not an Eeyore? What if, like Richard Hammond, you are a Piglet? Piglets are foot soldiers who enjoy being told what to do. Piglets fear putting their heads above the parapet lest they say or do something wrong, which is why Piglets should never, under any circumstances, have a lime-green Dodge Charger. If they live in cities, they should have a bicycle, so they don’t get in anyone’s way, and in the countryside, they should have a Land Rover, so they blend.
Hammond, incidentally, keeps a bicycle at his London flat and a Land Rover in Wales, where he claims not to live. But does.
If you are a rather attractive Mum – or a MILF as I believe such people are called – then you are a Kanga and you should have a Mercedes estate car. If you are just a Mum, then you are a Rabbit and you should drive a Renault Scenic, which is odd because you do.
It is the oddest thing, but I’ve never seen anyone driving a Scenic with whom I would like to mate. Once I saw a pretty girl in a Prius, and occasionally you see someone ageing well in a Peugeot. But Scenics are always driven by gargoyles.
Pooh is a nice person, which means he has to have the car all nice people have – the Volvo V70 estate. As an aside, I’m fairly sure everyone who has a V70 is having an affair. Because they blur so well into the background when parked outside discreet country hotels.
So, what about the Owls? Owls are middle-class, middle-brow people who live on estates but don’t have affairs, because they do a lot of wife-swapping. Many, therefore, have BMW Z4s. Put it this way, nice though the current Z4 is as a car, I’ve never met anyone who drives one who’s anywhere near as clever as they think they are. Weirdly, and this is another aside, all the really clever people I know drive hybrid Lexus 4x4s. I suppose you might say these people are the Christopher Robins.
Now we must move on to the world’s bouncy, enthusiastic and interesting people. The optimists, the ones who, by force of will, can ensure that all dropped bread will land butter-side up. Tiggers.
Tiggers have no time for the Rabbits in their Scenics and the Piglets on their bicycles. Tiggers like to get everywhere shortly before they actually set off and will make “Worra worra worra” growly noises at anyone who gets in their way.
Audis spring to mind as the obvious choice for Tiggers, since all Audis have a powerful front-end magnet which latches onto the car in front and holds tight until an overtaking opportunity – that’s not quite big enough – presents itself.
And yet Audis are a bit too serious for Tiggers. Tiggers like a bit more gung-ho from their wheels. A bit less all-wheel-drive safety high-visibility all-weather traction and a bit more, “Shit. That was close.” This is why Tiggers prefer BMWs, and specifically the M3. Possibly in white.
Strangely, as we move ever more deeply into 2010, this is about the only current car I’d think of buying. I see them cruising around from time to time, and I’m always filled with a need to have dinner with the driver. Wayne Rooney, for instance, does not have an M3. Those who do, have a whiff of being ‘in the life’.
You may imagine that to make this column work, I have simply chosen cars to suit the character traits of my subjects. And to a certain extent, I have. But look at it this way. Have you ever met anyone who’s had a Ferrari and been completely happy with it? No. because they are never happy with anything.
Now, have you ever met anyone who wasn’t delirious with joy about their M3? Quite.
I can hear James May now. “Clarkson, you blitering idiot…”
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