Why are camouflage trousers ‘intimidating’ a parish council?

A man who claims to own 41 pairs of camo trews has found himself at the centre of a furore that has seen most of the council resign

Name: Camouflage trousers.

Age: Camouflage and trousers both have their origins in ancient times, but their marriage probably took place in the mid-19th century.

Appearance: Intimidating.

I expected you to say “unobtrusive”. “Intimidating” is not my word – it was parish councillor Joe Armstrong who said it.

To whom? To fellow councillor Ian Dowson, at a meeting of Esh parish council in County Durham.

Please tell me the meeting was about finishing the name of their village. “Esh” is a decent start, or even a passable ending, but it’s not enough on its own. They never got on to that – not after Mr Armstrong publicly rebuked Mr Dowson for wearing intimidating trousers.

Did Mr Dowson apologise for his threat-wear? No. He claims to own 41 pairs of camouflage trousers, none of them remotely threatening.

Perhaps it’s the way he wears them. He thinks not. “It’s not intimidating or disgraceful, it’s just what I wear,” he said. “I only change for funerals, weddings and functions.”

Well, I’m glad that’s cleared up. Now about the dog-fouling … It’s isn’t quite. Dowson complained to Durham county council’s governance solicitor that Armstrong’s comment violated the council’s code of conduct. It was recommended Armstrong apologise and undergo some refresher training.

At last, a solution. Armstrong agreed to the training, but not the apology. In response, Mr Dowson and eight fellow councillors resigned.

Where does Esh parish council meet? Mostly at the Miners’ Institute in Langley Park. Why?

I was thinking that if they met in the woods, it would just look as if Mr Dowson had invisible legs. I’m afraid your brilliant idea has come too late. The mass resignation means that Esh parish council is no longer quorate, so it’s hardly worth them holding meetings.

All this from one thoughtless remark. Actually in an open letter, Dowson and his fellow signatories cited ongoing difficulties with Armstrong and his wife, also a councillor. “We were made to feel on many occasions that what we were saying was not important,” they wrote.

Have you waited until now to reveal that this dispute was never really about the trousers? I don’t like your tone. Or your shirt.

Do say: “Let the record show that Mr Dowson’s upper half was present.”

Don’t say: “You can’t handle the trousers!”

The GuardianTramp

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