To be a particularly kind of newspaper columnist does not require writing talent. Well, I would say that, wouldn’t I, since I have failed to get a writing gig all my life. Sour grapes, that’s what it is. If I’d been any good, I’d have been hired decades ago. I’m not Jeremy Clarkson, am I?

Actually, I am very glad I am not Jeremy Clarkson for a number of reasons. He writes for the Sun ‘newspaper’ for one thing. And he writes some seriously unpleasant copy. Just look at his comments about the Australian bush fires:

“I’ve suspected for some time God didn’t want people to live in Australia. He created it as a continent far, far away where he could house all his experiments that had gone wrong. For millions of years, this big, sandy cupboard under the stairs went unnoticed. But then along came Captain Cook and now the world knows all about Oz and its stupid, dangerous creatures. Plainly, God is embarrassed. Because he’s decided to set fire to it.”

With 24 people dead, thousands of people having lost their homes and upwards of one billion animals dead, you will have to pardon my inability to laugh at what Clarkson believes is a joke. Call me a snowflake but the death of a third of all the koalas in New South Wales does not make me laugh. Hearing of vast clouds of smoke travelling over 1200 miles to New Zealand does not reduce me to tears of laughter. What has happened in Australia has been tragedy upon tragedy. Some of the scenes have reduced me to tears.

There are a good number of columnists like Clarkson. The Mail’s Richard Littlejohn is another. Theirs is the easiest form of writing. Pick a subject and pour scorn on it, or make jokes. Or both. Pretend to be railing against the ‘establishment’, even though by writing for a newspaper like the Sun and Mail means you are the establishment. It’s the Tommy Robinson gambit: he’s the only one with the bottle to tell the truth. Clarkson does not need to come up with his own ideas. He can look at the news and basically take the piss. Like saying God has decided to set fire to Australia. We’re meant to laugh at this.

I would much rather read some cold, sober facts about the apocalyptic events down under, why it is happening and what lessons we can learn from it. Is there anything we can do to stop it happening again, or at least ensure they occur less frequently?

But maybe I am wrong? Maybe we have lost our shit so much that we really enjoy the sight and sound of innocent animals burning to death and people fleeing to beaches to escape bush fires? They do say that newspapers reflect the views of their readers, in which case we have a few million seriously unpleasant people in our country.

It is true that there is humour in almost everything, but there has to be a context. There is no context in Clarkson’s humourless ranting. Just cruelty at the expense of the bereaved, the homeless and at one billion animals. If you find it funny, I feel very sorry for you.