Not bad actually

2009: “There’s a lot of your family in tonight.” After looking at the name badge of businessman Atul Patel at a Palace reception for British Indians.

31 thoughts on “Not bad actually”

  1. No, that one is bad. It’s potentially highly offensive and barely qualifies as a joke. It needs to be funnier to make it obvious that the sayer is not just being an insensitive dick.

    This, on the other hand, was perfectly fair:

    “Well, you didn’t design your beard too well, did you?” To designer Stephen Judge about his tiny goatee beard.

  2. What’s offensive about a lot of Patel’s in the same room? Could have cracked the same joke at a clan gathering. Wouldn’t have been as funny.

  3. It’s potentially offensive because it sounds a bit like someone who knows so little about Indians that they’re unaware it’s a common Indian name.

    If it was obviously a joke – that is, a funny joke – it would be fine to risk some totally humourless person not getting it. When it’s someone with a track record of putting his foot in it, saying something that’s not funny, the potential for misunderstanding is far greater.

    Or, to put it another way, it’s not a gaffe when said by anyone in any circumstances. Said by that person in those circumstances, though, it was.

  4. It’s potentially offensive because it sounds a bit like someone who knows so little about Indians that they’re unaware it’s a common Indian name.


    Invited to the palace? Meeting Prince Phillip? Words fail me!

  5. Harry Haddock's Ghost

    Glad we’ve all learnt not to potentially offend anyone. As the world is full of potential, we’d best all remain silent and let our moral superior ‘Dave’ instruct us further.

  6. When I heard about Phil the Greek retiring, my first thought was; now he’ll be free to say what he really thinks of foreigners.

    And Dave. You shouldn’t pause in your relentless search for hidden Nazis, to give us your words of wisdom. You might miss one

  7. Getting very tired of people telling other people what jokes they shouldn’t make. The pendulum needs to swing back.

  8. The only people who would not recognise this as a joke are I’ll informed. I doubt that Indians, here or in India merit that description. But then I don’t regard Indians as infants.

  9. Who cares who might be offended. If anyone doesn’t like it they can piss up their leg and play with the steam.

  10. Bloke in North Dorset

    Phil’s of an age where people didn’t take offence to make a political point and just shrugged off bad jokes as part of life and got on with theirs. It was also a time when people didn’t take offence on others’ behalf, whether or not they were offended, so that they could superior.

    I’m sure most modern social problems would be cured if we returned to it rather than pampering to the snowflakes and assorted SJWs.

  11. Pat

    From a sample size of one ( the Mrs ) Indians might not find it funny

    Not because it’s offensive, but Patel ( like Singh ) didn’t imply a familial relationship.

    The joke just didn’t make sense.

  12. It’s potentially offensive

    Everything is potentially offensive. Welcome to the World of Grievance. The secret is not to involuntarily cringe every time someone claims to be offended, but to actually make a sane assessment and think for yourself.

    The irony is that Phillip, despite being ‘Greek’ to legions of right-on wankers, turned out to be more British than any of them in his attitude and sense of humour.

  13. I sneeze in threes

    So if it was a evening for the Welsh and he made a comparable comment about Mr Jones would people also fail to grasp the simple pun or do Indians have different understanding of surnames? I suppose he could have said not many Dalits in tonight.

  14. Being Welsh, I think I can confirm that I’d get the Jones comment.

    However, surnames in India so – for certain surnames – not have the familial link, so I guess they do have a different understanding in certain circumstances.

    For example, some Sikh Guru declared that all Sikh’s should have Singh as their name ( as a title, I think ). Similarly, many many Sikh women have the name Kaur.

    So a family link is much, much less likely than a Smith or Jones – so unlikely, that the fact they had the same surname would’t make you think they were related.

    Similarly with Patel. Patel was a title for landowner. So, since they likely had the money, they ( the ‘Patels’ ) have taken over loads of industry in Gujurat, India, and the money/business acumen has made them successful, and common, overseas.

    Long way of saying that Indians wouldn’t necessarily see a common surname as signifying a familial relationship.

  15. I’m potentially offended by Dave.

    What’s my prize?

    No, wait, if I’d first checked my privilege I’d have realised I have no right to be potentially offended. Except I’m a black woman trapped inside a white man’s body, so don’t you dare oppress me.

  16. I met him at a Lord Mayor’s do years ago (no, not me). Brenda strolled past, followed by Phil.
    Phil: And what do you do?
    Me: I’m a landlord.
    Phil: (eyes lighting up) Ooo, you run a pub?
    Me: No, property, I’m a capitalist exploiter of the renting classes.

    I’m sure there was a smirk as he caught himself before laughing.

  17. The other huge irony of course is that he’s the only State employee the Left criticises for not giving a fuck that he can’t be fired for taking the piss.

  18. When someone posts “words fail me” (happens in this thread as well as the Guardian) my response is;

  19. Mrs Cynic, who is a rather fetching shade of beige, was rather sad when she found out about Phil retiring. He’s her favourite Royal – because of the jokes.

    Yes, it’s easy for him because he can get away with it. But we’re thankful he takes the opportunity. Many wouldn’t.

  20. People round here do seem to have a lot of difficulty with the difference between things that are potentially offensive, and so should be avoided in situations where politeness is the appropriate manner, and things that are bad/wrong/illegal.

    Phil is criticised for not knowing when he should behave himself, that’s all. It’s hardly the end of the world. But if you want to know why people consider his utterances gaffes, that’s why.

  21. Dave, I think it’s more if we avoid anything that is potentially offensive to anyone, then we simply don’t say anything, or speak in such anodyne, grey cliches that it’s hardly worth the effort. It’s the sort of thinking that leads to the “safe spaces” bollocks.

    Apart from the press, who want to make a story out of anything, I can’t – off the top of my head – think of anyone who think’s Phil’s utterances are “gaffes”. They’re mostly quite amusing.

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