The end of the summer can’t come quickly enough for me. I like England’s default weather setting of grey and chilly because it means men have to cover themselves up again.
For some reason, whenever the sun so much as tries to put its hat on, huge numbers of blokes take their shirts off.
I’m not some annoying prude who objects to someone catching a few rays. But there’s a place for bare chests and it’s the beach. Or the waxing salon, if that’s your bag.
It’s not the street while walking the dog.
It’s not the pub beer garden.
And it certainly isn’t the supermarket freezer aisle.
There was a customer in my local one buying ice cream (shorts by Oakley, body by Ben and Jerry) and the chillers made his nipples look like hairy bullets.
Yes, I know, they’re not hurting anyone, I don’t have to look, I shouldn’t be such a snob . . . I’ve heard it all before.
And no, I’m not advocating a return to the days when it was inappropriate to wear less than a hat and gloves in August or go down for breakfast in anything less than a three piece suit and fob watch (although sometimes I do like to do that).
In a way, I suppose all this bare chestedness strikes a blow for equality.
Men are no longer the only ones who gawp at and ogle the opposite sex.
But I’d like to go out on a limb and take a wild guess that there are plenty of women who would probably agree that they aren’t particularly in the mood for seeing bare flesh, apart from the chicken fillets on the meat counter, when they’re just trying to grab a few groceries.
And I doubt very much that it matters whether the flesh in question is the sinew and muscle of a washboard stomach or the belly that looks like a bowl full of pork pie jelly.
As I’m basically setting out my own rules for the future direction of polite society, I might as well go the whole hog and handle any possible exceptions you might be seeking.
Firstly, what about joggers? Surely they must be allowed to strip off if they’re exercising, right?
I haven’t exactly been anywhere near a gym in about five years, but as far as I remember everyone in there had a top on.
If you’re serious about your running you’ve probably got the right kit to wear when it’s warm. If you haven’t, then you’re just showing off. So jog on.
Secondly, are string vests a compromise? Only if you’re name is Onslow and you’re in a repeat of Keeping Up Appearances. You will look like a slob.
Thirdly, how about wearing a shirt but undoing some of the buttons? Go on then, if you must – but only the top two. Any more than that and you might as well be wearing a medallion with loads of sovereign rings and trying to sell me a used car in the 1980s, or else trying to sing like Tom Jones at the karaoke, which you can’t pull off. Trust me.
I think it’s time we just put it away and started having a bit of self respect.
No one wants to see your wobbly bits, your muffin tops or moobs.
Your milkshake certainly does not bring all the boys to the yard, nor the girls for that matter.
And regardless of whether you look like the bloke on the cover of Men’s Health, there are no women who want to see you on a Diet Coke break.
Keith Harrison is away