Finally, the breakthrough. After six years slogging away on the Cotswolds social scene desperately trying to avoid Ruby Wax and Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, I get the call. I'm going to meet the kingpin, the head of the social salon: Jeremy Clarkson.
It's a casual, polite invitation from Alex James (bassist of Blur and now Lord of Cheese) to his 40th birthday celebrations, but I bite his hand off and agree before he can change his mind. Stacey's pleased as we don't go out much. She goes into "what do I wear?" mode. She gets me to email the First Lady of Cheese for a dress code. We receive a typically rock'n'roll response – "smart or casual, whatever you fancy...".
This is the sort of thing to give my wife a nervous breakdown, so I leave her to it and head off into Cirencester for a second fitting of my bespoke tweed jacket. Middle age is certainly starting to kick in.
Come the night of the party and we're all prepared. Stacey has booked a babysitter to stay overnight so we are free to party like it's 2008. She has opted for a smart-casual combination that works very well and took only three hours to decide upon, so, unbelievably, we leave on time.
The Jaguar purrs smugly through the apocalyptic credit-crunch landscape that surrounds us. Everywhere we look are "For sale" signs as townies feel the pinch and start to sell up their statement houses. On days such as these it feels good to be a country renter. We laugh like hyenas and turn up the Aerosmith – Jeremy Clarkson would love this. He and I are going to become best mates and he'll fire the midget clone, Hammond, and make me part of the show. It's all going to be so easy and I'll smash the best lap time when I'm on as a guest, to boot.
We arrive and wander in. It's all very casual and cool. Huge legs of lamb are being cooked and interesting, arty people wander about. Oh look! There's the guitarist from Blur... stay cool, pretend to be unimpressed. Well done. I have a couple of looseners – nothing too extreme but I'm feeling good and this is going to be fun. Stacey is loving it – she's chatting to everyone. Life is good.
From another room, music cranks up and people start dancing. I hate dancing, because I'm an ex-Goth, but Stacey is off and boogieing and I'm perfectly content.
Suddenly a huge shadow covers me and the tall figure of Clarkson is in front of me. "What are you up to at the moment?" he asks from somewhere high above. I love this – it's classic celeb party chat, no need for intros or small talk, just straight in there. It saves time. I open my mouth to reply wittily and realise that I am about to vomit.
Omigod, am I allergic to Jeremy Clarkson? It's possible but I don't think so. I start to say something but can feel that it's not making much sense as I'm trying very hard not to puke all over him. After three or four minutes I sense Clarkson is looking for an escape. I move sideways and give him a clear run – he takes it.
I stagger out of the room and find Stacey dancing lasciviously with Alex James. I tell her that I have to leave ... now. To her credit she doesn't complain, but I can see she is angry.
Twenty minutes later, just past Burford, I make her stop the car. I get out and vomit profusely before slipping into the ditch and falling on to a barbed wire fence that cuts me up really badly. I pray that nobody can see me.
This had not been a good night. I have a bug; I'm not drunk, despite what Stacey thinks. I suppose I'll have to do the Top Gear audition next time.Reuse content