The Duke - October 8, 2014

SHORT SHRIFT TO SHORTS - these knobbly knees would not have looked out of place at Butlins or other holiday parks
SHORT SHRIFT TO SHORTS - these knobbly knees would not have looked out of place at Butlins or other holiday parks
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Since when did the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness turn into the season of shorts and fellows’ shirtlessness?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the long hot summer and the only slightly cooler start to autumn as much as the next man – except I seem to have been wearing a lot more clothes than him.

Just when I thought men who should already know better were going to start covering themselves up again until at least next spring – out has come the sun and with it the almost washed shorts and T-shirts.

I’m not just talking the legions of testosterone oozing young men who opt not to have a shower after their strenuous workouts down at the local gym but don’t mind strutting their stuff minutes later in the off-licence and supermarket aisles wearing little more than a smile, a tattoo and a credit card pouch.

No, the scourge of shorts has spread faster than you can say “buy one get one free in Primark” and an ever growing army of older men as well take an alarming pride in revealing more naked flesh than a butcher’s slab on half price meat day.

I’m old enough to remember when the only time you saw men’s legs outside of a bath, a brothel or a sports ground was in a holiday camp knobbly knees competition. What fun there was to be had from laughing at your dad or grand-dad timidly revealing their pins for 10 minutes once a year in front of a giggling crowd of hecklers and strangely interested onlookers. These days you are more likely see a “Men Wearing Trousers” competition than a knobbly knees one – and not because men’s appendages have become any more attractive than they ever were.

The silliness of shorts was even registered in pop music when Freddie and the Dreamers (themselves a bit of a joke) revived The Royal Teens 1957 novelty hit Short Shorts.

When I was at grammar school (granted it was an all-boys one) you couldn’t wait for the day when you graduated from short to long trousers. It was based on what year you were in rather than your height and I was about six feet tall before I could finally cover up my knees and my embarrassment. Maybe that’s why I have such an aversion to shorts all these years later?

It would be almost forgivable if shorts were actually smart. Fashion industry experts have been saying for a while – with a little help from influential US website Business Insider – that a blazer and a bit of leg for men was about to take the high street by storm. Albeit at about £300 a throw.

That may be so in Notting Hill but on Blackpool Promenade, Poulton Market Place and Fleetwood Esplanade think more a “Sex Please I’m British” T-shirt a size too small for comfort and a pair of market stall shorts – total cost about a tenner.

And it’s not as if these dedicated followers of the unfashionable stick to the high streets, they’ve started invading pubs and even restaurants. Gross.

Maybe it’s an equality thing. If women can show their legs why can’t men? The answer is fairly obvious… generally speaking women hold the bragging rights for decent legs. And they are more likely to shave them.

The image of that legion of the partially clothed brings to mind Sam Brownback, the governor of Kansas who this month is set to sign a proclamation preparing for a “zombie apocalypse.” He reckons if Kansas can handle a zombie attack then it’s more than ready to face tornadoes, fires, storms and other natural disasters. Even men in shorts?

Giving the French a roasting over food

It’s generally felt that a nation which regards snails and frogs legs as culinary delicacies shouldn’t be taken too seriously when it comes to criticising the dining preferences of other countries.

So while it’s quite understandable that we should dismiss the French as “Froggies,” it’s always seemed a tad unfair that they should describe us as “les ros boeuf.”

But now it seems they might have a point (though obviously they still don’t have a sense of humour) because a poll by YouGov to mark the BBC Good Food 25th anniversary revealed that most Briton’s idea of “food heaven” is a traditional roast.

Chicken tikka masala may have been topping favourite dish polls for years but when it comes to comfort food in 2014 the Sunday lunch staple was voted by 43 per cent of Brits as their ultimate plate filler.

Next came steak and chips followed by scones with jam and clotted cream then apple crumble.

Jalfrezi has become the nation’s favourite curry with tikka masala slumping to 14th place behind pizza, classic lasagne and spaghetti bolognese.

Not that this column doubts the YouGov poll but just to be on the safe side I did a bit of research on Talbot Road and Central Drive. The result – an almost unanimous vote for kebabs. Second came “another kebab.”