Swimwear issue

It is well that I am not the editor of Sports Illustrated; for were I so, I might commission a special burqini swimwear issue, just to provoke … everybody. All my lithe supermodels would be wearing burqini and veilkini variants, some with Marianne liberty caps and so forth. In the shoots, I would have them all posed on beaches surrounded by French policemen in their various uniforms, striking extravagant dance poses. There’d be a dwarf traffic cop in the traditional Paris “aubergine” raincoat, who’d turn up in set after set, blowing on a whistle. Perhaps one model in a wetsuit, with oxygen tanks, made to resemble a suicide vest; and other subtle topical allusions. In the background there’d be men and women in Edwardian beach attire, of extreme modesty, expressing shock. An old bathing machine would be lying on its side, with a sea turtle crawling out, mounted by an avatar of Vishnu, to extend the multicultural range.

Of course, I wouldn’t last long at “SI” — the only question, whether I’d be fired or assassinated first. But in the interim I might have the pleasure of being denounced by world leaders, and getting the company account banned by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, &c. With luck, an outrageously goading defence, and the help of Drudge and Breitbart, I might be able to stretch my fifteen minutes of infamy to twenty or twenty-five.

The intention would be to provoke laughter, at levels of absurdity now many layers deep. But we stepped beyond parody and satire, when four cops by the Promenade des Anglais in Nice were photographed ordering a Muslim woman to strip down, out of respect for “good morals and secularism” — while the nearly-naked on the beach around brayed at the woman, and her little daughter wept. Mayors have banned burqinis along the Riviera and around Corsica this summer. Most of these mayors are socialists. The costume itself was designed in Australia. It was first banned on beaches in Morocco.

Layers and layers, I say.

Yes, it is bad form to provoke people. I have this on the authority of Il Galateo, greatest of Italian renaissance courtesy manuals; better even than the short treatise on Manners presented to my paternal grandmother by Canadian immigration authorities in anno 1913. She had arrived at Quebec from Devonshire, with a French surname, and so must have been suspected of harbouring barbarous traits; our officials were more pro-active in those days. By the ’twenties, grandma was wearing a swimsuit that exposed not only her ankles but the calves, almost to the knees. Like any girl raised by (Anglican) nuns, she could be a little wild, once untended. But with marriage she settled nicely, and from what I can make of the family pictures, was never seen in a swimsuit again.

If provocation by ostentatious Muslim dress is the issue, I have seen much better in the Robarts Library. Perhaps I should report it, and demand that our local constabulary send in the clowns.