Bear with me for a moment, because I'm going to write (only fleetingly) about cricket. In the aftermath of the sorry debacle concerning the Indian cricket team being accused of racism against Australia’s Andrew Simmons, and the subsequent sacking of umpire Steve Bucknor by the ICC (a monumentally dreadful decision IMHO), I watched a TV program the other morning on which the panel discussed whether using the name Monkey is the action of a racist.
I’ve got several mates who I refer to – entirely affectionately – as Monkey, one of whom will also be familiar to anyone who regularly reads Autocar. On his passport it may say Christopher Harris, but to anyone who knows him personally, it’s Monkey (below right... I mean left). He has a T-shirt with the word written right across the back of it to avoid any potential confusion. I should also point out that, while there are several stories in circulation about where the nickname comes from, not one of them has anything to do with the bloke's ancestry or ethnicity.
Yet according to UK law it is the victim who decides whether they are, or have been, the subject of racial abuse. So if Chris were to walk into the office one day and accuse me of being racist for calling him Monkey, theoretically – and legally – I’d be in trouble. Now that really would be a laugh.