When I was a Cub Scout, I attended a Christmas fancy dress party as a pirate. What fun it was, with my felt-tip stubble and inflatable parrot, waving my cardboard cutlass around and shouting “aaarrrr”.
But pirates are not merely fictional creations with wooden legs; for centuries they struck terror in the hearts of merchant seamen, looting and plundering villages and carrying out acts of unbelievable cruelty over widespread areas. What is more, piracy continues today, primarily in the South China Sea and along the African coast.
Clearly my so-called “fun” pirate costume was actually in the worst possible taste, and hugely disrespectful to those who have lost family members to pirates.
I would like to make a public apology for my costume and all the offence that it caused. But if that is insufficient (and I can imagine Michael Howard might be very quick to take up the pirate widow cause and chastise me further) then I offer myself for public humiliation, with photographs of my leering ten-year-old pirate face readily available to be splashed across the tabloids for days on end just so people can see what an insensitive bastard I am. I am fully prepared for this really horribly serious misdemeanour to be ridiculed and criticised in every possible manner, to be discussed in every forum, and to be jeered at by every living soul, so seriously serious was this dreadful, awful faux-pas of fancy dress.