World Gone Bongo: If chinos are wrong, I don't want to be right

A chance meeting with some football supporters gave Andrew pause for sartorial thought and an opportunity to cast a wry sideways glance at his own trousers.


Andrew Churnwell

2 min read

Being a successful talk radio presenter, with my finger on the throbbing pulse of the nation, means that many of my listeners regard me as a man of the people. In their eyes, I’m very much a normal flavour crisps and fat white, five sugars, from Costa Coffee chap; a pipe of Pringles and a Yazoo in the Yaris yobbo; a beans and bacon at the Berni Inn bloke. I am quite confident, then, that they’d be shocked to hear that last week I was sharing a prosciutto board with a famous Spectator columnist at Le Relais Gascon, Chelsea

Sitting outside on the pavement, al fresco style, we were gorging ourselves while politely discussing political matters. A “classical liberal” who believes in eugenics, he was accusing me of being a card paying member of the hard-left (which I am not) when in front of us appeared a gaggle of boozed up footie lads, red-faced, slack-jawed, and slovenly-dressed in Stone Island apparel.

“Chinos!” they all bellowed, pointing at my burgundy trousers belonging to the M&S’s Blue Harbour range

I was stunned. Like a deer caught in headlights, I rose to my feet, scared for my life, and in a voice charged with emotion I screamed: “Back off at once, or else I’ll beat you off—all of you, one at a time!”

Although this response was a really good one, the footie lads merely laughed before pointing again at my Blue Harbour chinos, now moist in the groin owing to a small amount of wee I had expelled in sheer fright. 

My Spectator friend, having finished off the last of the prosciutto board, glared at the men, declaring that he had received a top-notch education from Stowe School, and to step the eff off! But alas these men, who knew nothing but footie, fighting and Fosters, remained unphased.

“Look!” one of them said—a nasty rat-faced character wearing a Peaky Blinders cap. “He’s got on chinos, too!”  

The men began to bay again, while my friend and I looked on in contempt—contempt for those who had seen our tears. 

I was livid. “I bet you think you’re a real bunch of hard men, don’t you? Well, let me tell you all: I don’t look down on you for your lifestyle of drinking and footie thuggery. Nor do I cast judgement on those who choose to wear jackets emblazoned with Stone Island. So why, I ask, do you men ridicule my friend and me, simply for dressing sensibly in the normal comfortable clothes of the average British man? I stand before you, gentlemen, in my Nick Clegg fleece and chinos with a blue polo shirt combo from M&S’s Blue Harbour range begging for some sort of sanity. I extend to you now an olive branch of reason, an invitation for mutual understanding.”

These are the words I would have said to those men who have only ever known footie thuggery if they hadn’t run away like cowards. But let’s face it: on reflection I believe that it is I, a successful broadcaster and columnist, who has had the final laugh—I who can appreciate the divine joy of wearing sensible trouser-wear without shame. My happy ending? Having a congratulatory fat white Costa coffee on the way back to Donington Park Moto!