The world these days is quite a lot like my nan: small, loud and unpredictable. I’ve seen a lot of strange internet phenomena in the last few years and this week has seen possibly my favourite controversy of all time: the tale of the Colombian women and the cycling kit.
A lot of people got very worried about this kit, not least Brian Cookson, the president of the world cycling federation, who tweeted that the kit was ‘unacceptable by any standard of decency’. Brian appears to have fallen prey to the time-old confusion there, and said ‘unacceptable by any standard of decency’ when he actually meant ‘beige’. I know, I know, we’ve all been there, in B&Q, demanding a pot of paint that’s unacceptable by any standard of decency and being asked to leave because you’re sweating on the artifical cactus arrangement.
It also seems that Brian has said ‘any standard of decency’ when he in fact means ‘a very specific and peculiar standard of decency which I just made up’, that being the standard whereby anything which is vaguely the colour of genitals may as well be exposed genitals, which arguably raises the question of whether Brian can actually tell an arse from an elbow. I imagine Brian leads a fairly distressed life, constantly covering his children’s eyes lest they should see a particularly flaxen-hued wardrobe or camel and be traumatised, mistaking it for a gigantic exposed vulva.
‘Oh no daddy! A giant wardrobe-shaped vagina!’ Cries little Timothy, aged 23.
‘NO!’ Shouts Brian, smothering Timothy with his emergency copy of Angler’s Mail (a consistently non-beige publication), ‘Quickly, into the sensory-deprivation basement!’
To be fair to the man, the BBC went even more hysterical and displayed this photo with the groin area blacked out, as if we might actually be upset by the sight of fully clothed women who happen to be wearing beige. Who has strong feelings about beige? The colour blander than a tax return made of Petit Filous. This is the same BBC who clearly think we won’t be upset by the news, or The One Show; a show which is admittedly inexplicably popular, but then again, so were PVC conservatories and Stalin.
It seems to me as though Brian and the BBC’s visit from the ghost of Christmas overreaction might provide a good argument for forcing people to sit a basic multiple-choice exam before being allowed to have an opinion, or run an international sporting governing body or be given an OBE. This would probably cover basic yes or no questions like: ‘Are you worried about the sky falling?’, ‘Are rising house prices giving your pension cancer?’ and ‘Is wearing beige clothes the same as being naked?’.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t allow people to say that wearing beige clothes is the same as being naked, I’m just saying that we should ignore those people. In much the same way that you might ignore a naked man covered in butter screaming about the price of courgettes, or Antony Worrall-Thompson. Having said that, if you happen to see Antony Worrall-Thompson naked, covered in butter and ranting about vegetable prices, you should probably pay attention, and maybe offer him a Twix. It might help.
Hopefully the Colombian ladies will just plough through all this controversy and focus on building a society where people can differentiate between human flesh and beige clothing. Or focus on cycling. Probably just cycling.