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Budgie smugglers

January 13, 2013


I’ve read three newspaper reviews of Tom Daley’s TV show Splash, in which he teaches minor celebrities who can’t dive to dive, and every single review has used the term budgie smugglers to denote skimpy Speedo swimming-trunks. I also heard a reference to the programme on the radio, and they used budgie smugglers too. They all employed the word, I felt, with a similar attitude: a deliberately sneering facetiousness, reflecting their contempt for the programme. As it happens I don’t share that contempt – I find watching people who are really scared of doing something conquer their fears and do it quite engrossing, especially as I am scared of diving or even jumping off high boards myself (and haven’t done so for many years); nor do I understand people’s evident disapproval of Daley for doing the programme. He’s good at diving, in fact he’s one of the best divers in the world, and he shares his expertise with others – what on earth is wrong with that?

That’s not the main point, however. The main point is that budgie smugglers was used in all these cases with a tone that seemed to suggest it was a particularly wry, witty and original phrase. Perhaps the first time it was used it made somebody laugh. But it really isn’t so witty that it bears such frequent repetition. As a matter of fact I’m not sure I even understand the logic of it. Presumably the idea is that these tight trunks show the outline of a man’s genitals, so that it looks as if he’s got a budgie stuffed down there. But it doesn’t. It looks as if he’s got genitals stuffed down there. And if it was a budgie, one has to ask, then where have his genitals gone? It just doesn’t make sense. I think all the journalists who used this phrase should cease their self-congratulatory smirking and hang their heads in shame. Actually, I think they should be forced to dive off a 10-metre diving board.

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