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Washing Day Blues [And Other Coloureds]

I am grateful to Denwar Poshmont, a resident of the Dunflyin DRAF Retirement Home, Perimeter Road, Chalfont St Giles for semantic assistance in the context of the minefield that was yesterday's posting.

A wartime colleague of Group Captain Ray “Bunty” Darr and a former Group Captain himself, Denwar is familiar with the several intricacies and many pitfalls of the English tongue and is a highly-trained and fully licensed specialist in the field of descriptive vocabulary; particularly that characteristically deployed in the bars of DRAF mess rooms after a few post-sortie stiffeners. Little in the arena of "colourful - or indeed colour-based - language" escapes his practised eye and yesterday's contribution from our resident Theologian was certainly no exception. Accordingly, he has written to offer what we believe to be the kind of sound advice that all intending social influencers, as well as experienced media hacks, would do well to take on board.

Used to “finding his way around the tricky corners” that are such a feature of the modern, equal opportunities-focussed, affirmative action centred, ethnically- and gender-diverse, fit-for-purpose, rapidly-deployable aerial armed forces, and a survivor of the casualty-strewn linguistic battlefield of an earlier less politically correct era, he has written to say that the use of the word coloureds in relation to a domestic washing-machine based scenario, whilst not without risk, is nevertheless permitted for those who have reached “a certain age”.

In making this assertion he refers to a recent ruling in the Dorset High Court* which determined that the use of the term coloureds was neither racist nor abusive provided (a) the speaker was aged 80 or above (b) the person or thing referred to was either dead or inanimate and (c) there was no deliberate or pre-meditated intention to cause offence, which is to say [in strict legal terms] that the threshold for the acceptability or otherwise of a remark is determined by a burden of proof which holds that “any claim for hurt feelings or assertion of discomfiture consequent upon hearing a perceived slight, insult or defamation is inadmissible in law unless it can be proved that the speech act itself is not inadvertent and/or the perpetrator was not not completely senile or at the very least not too old to know any better at the time”.

* Mr Justice Turner-Blindeye ruling in the case of Gobby v Touchy, Dorset High Court, Quarter Sessions, 3rd February 2021.

Despite a recent High Court ruling, critics believe products like Threadsil Non-Bio may soon be off the shelf unless the manufacturer can prove it is only used by over 80s.

That said Group Captain Poshmont suggests that for the avoidance of any unnecessary bother in an increasingly litigious world, an interlocutor would be “advised, wherever possible, to find an alternative phrasing” perhaps by referring to the garments covered by washing cycle 6 not as coloureds but rather as “clothes of colour”.

We are grateful to Denwar for his practical guidance on this sensitive issue and undertake to follow it in all future washing-machine-based scenarios, discussions, comments and postings. For the record, it should be noted, however, that, like most Dorset employers, we have tended to favour whites [Setting 10] in any event.

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