Would the hapless Euro-MP Godfrey Bloom have offended with the same remark about bongo-bongo land a generation ago - in, say, 1967?
I have a feeling he would have done. Even the year before Enoch Powell's 'Rivers of Blood' speech, and the dockers marching in his support, most of us in the UK would have found it tasteless and boorish, if not offensive.
Though, it is a marginal call. Am I alone in remembering the lines of the original signature tune to the BBC’s Start the Week, sung by Lance Percival, and the line the follows “come to Bradford in the sun”? (I won't say what I think it was in case my memory is faulty).
The reason I have been wondering this is that I turned nine in 1967 and went for my birthday outing with a few friends to Chislehurst Caves (where are you now, Adam, James, Justin...?). I haven't been back since, until yesterday when, for my son's ninth birthday outing, I went again.
I wish I could say it hadn't changed at all. To be honest, I didn't remember a great deal (though it was extremely satisfying, after all this time, to wander around underground with an oil lamp).
What now feels like nostalgia was then more like uncategorisable impressions, so it is hard to make comparisons. But I have been wondering whether really so much has altered since then.
What has definitely shifted is social attitudes, to sexuality and race – or at least how one refers to it in public – and definitely in the role of women. IT has also changed, but I wonder really whether that is as big a transformation as we think it is, however wedded we are to the screen. We have also gained the concept of 'offensive' but at the cost of becoming more offended, more puritanical and so much narrower in public debate - but I was hardly taking part in pubic debate in those days, so I may be wrong.
I have a mobile phone, which I certainly never had in 1967, but I probably watch less television – my children certainly watch very much less than I did.
But apart from that, what has changed? In London, we have been working similar hours, going to the same sports venues, and catching the same bus routes with the same numbers, for well over a century. I have been travelling in jumbo jets for my entire life. The mini (see assembly line picture above from 1967) has been in production in Oxford since I was three - and it still is.
Doctor Who’s Tardis seems to be much the same as well.
Compared to the staggering technological changes of the first two decades of the last century, when cars, submarines, aeroplanes and cinema took giant leaps, to emerge fully formed around 1967, when the original pioneers were often still alive.
More about this in my submarine ebook Unheard, Unseen.
All of which is my way of saying this: don't believe it when people tell you that change is accelerating. In the UK, it has actually been slowing down.
And there is an old dinosaur like Godfrey Bloom mouthing off to prove it.