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Friday, December 10, 2021


It is packed with his trade-mark irreverent and off-the-wall wit. And with plenty of laugh out aloud moments, I would rate it as best I have read by this author. (Review by Keith Millar)

Diddly Squat: A Year on The Farm is vintage Jeremy Clarkson. It is based on his hilarious and roller coaster experiences as a farmer.

Clarkson is, of course, best known as the whacky petrolhead presenter of the BBC television programme, Top Gear, which enjoyed a phenomenal following worldwide, while he was with it.

He is also the author of several books. Mostly compiled from the many articles he has written as a columnist for the Sunday Times (British version). Other than writing about all things motoring, he also adopts a grumpy old man personae to rant with great humour against anything he finds unjust and just plain wrong or stupid in the world.

But a Farmer? No never! Not a chance!

But that is exactly what he has become. Several years ago, he bought a farm in Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds for tax purposes. Then more recently when the man who ran the farm for him retired - and because there were no new cars for him to review due to the covid pandemic - he decided that he would run the farm himself.

After all – to quote Clarkson - How difficult could it be? You put seeds in the ground. Weather happens. And food grows. Easy.

In reality during his first year as a farmer he was faced with suffocating red tape, biblical weather, local objections, the global pandemic, and his own staggering ignorance of how to “do farming”.

He discovered that to be a farmer you had to be a vet, an un-tangler of red tape, an agronomist, a mechanic, an entrepreneur, a gambler, a weather forecaster, a salesman, a labourer, and even an accountant.

And Clarkson was none of these. It is his hilarious experiences in trying to learn all these skills which forms the content of this book.

It is laid out in a season to season and month by month account of his exploits – and is based on the articles he wrote for the Sunday Times.

For example, the first thing he did - in true Clarkson style - was to buy the biggest Lamborghini tractor he could find – which proved to be rather unsuitable for his farm. The tractor was too big for his barn, so he had to build a new one. Then the driveway to the new barn was not up to scratch so they had to lay a new one.

He has named his farm Diddly Squat because that is how much he made in his first year as a farmer.

However - and this information from Internet and not the book - his farm shop, also named Diddly Squat, is so successful that there are huge traffic jams getting there on week-ends. In true Clarkson terminology, the produce he sells includes Cow Juice and Bee Juice.

In the end despite all the problems he encountered Jeremy Clarkson has decided that he loves the farming lifestyle and is persevering with his life as a farmer.

His first year on the farm was also filmed and made into an Amazon TV special.

This book is vintage Jeremy Clarkson. It is packed with his trade-mark irreverent and off-the-wall wit. And with plenty of laugh out aloud moments, I would rate it as best I have read by this author.

This book is great fun and very funny. I would suggest an excellent Christmas gift for all Jeremy Clarkson fans. It is quick and easy reading and I enjoyed it enough to read it in a day. However, it must be said that the font it is printed in is surprisingly large.

Diddly Squat: A Year on The Farm is published by Penguin Random House UK. The ISDN is 978-0-241-46451-9. The recommended retail price is R350. – Keith Millar