Clarkson to Nelson Mandela: ‘Have you ever had a lap dance?’
IMAGINE, if you will, that you are Jeremy Clarkson about to meet Nelson Mandela.
You're feeling nervous and want to say something intelligent and original. You rack your brains and think hard. And the only thing you can possibly come up with; the only question worthy of one of the greatest revolutionaries and philanthropists is: "Have you ever had a lap dance?"
Mandela met one-man offence machine Clarkson in 2010, when the presenter was touring South Africa with Top Gear.
The PA of the late South African President, Zelda La Grange, recalled the incident as one of the "ugliest" that she had experienced while working under Madiba, as the politician was also called.
"He walked into Madiba's office and the first thing he asks him - really how inappropriate can you be? - is: 'Have you ever had a lap dance?'" La Grange recalled.
"I immediately got to my boiling point - it was sizzling out of my ears; that's how angry I was. I told Madiba: 'You don't have to answer that.'"
Clarkson's intellectually bereft line of questioning continued.
"Do you come to the office often?" he asked inquiring as to how frequently Mandela visited his office.
Mandela replied that this was the first time this year, before La Grange interjected that he had met Neil Armstrong only the day before.
"He says: 'Oh yes yes yes!' because he connected with Neil Armstrong very well and it was an incredible meeting," she recounted.
"And with Jeremy Clarkson there was just nothing more to say. So Madiba asks him: 'Have you been to the moon?'
"If he can make such a stupid joke, Madiba can also."
The joke went over Clarkson's head and he said of their meeting that Mandela mistook him for the astronaut and wrote a column about it for The Times.
He put his conduct in their meeting to nerves.
"It was like queuing for a wedding line-up," he said.
"You want to say something to the bride's father that all the other guests haven't said before, but what hasn't already been said to Nelson Mandela? My head was in a spin."
Clarkson was recently reprimanded by the BBC after a film emerged of him using the n-word in an unaired clip of Top Gear. The presenter initially denied racism claims, but later "begged for forgiveness".