Alf was bemused by the haste with which a designer apologised for including a few feathers in a fashion show.
Feathers are culturally unacceptable – it transpires – when you stick ’em in a headdress and put the headdress on the head of anybody other than a male native-American with the appropriate chiefly qualifications to wear it.
Trelise Cooper was obviously oblivious to the rulebook that governs these matters.
On learning of her breach she apologised for featuring the feathered head gear, saying it was a mistake and admitting her ignorance.
Dame Trelise’s show, as part of New Zealand Fashion Week, featured “70s bohemian vibes” with models wearing native-American and Canadian First Nations’ feathered headdresses.
The garments – which have deep cultural significance – quickly drew a backlash from show guests and online.
This morning the designer issued an apology on Facebook, saying she didn’t have ill intentions.
“I genuinely respect and honour all cultures, races and religions. It was never my intention to disrespect another culture,” she wrote online, re-posting via Twitter.
“It is my hope that through my mistake and ignorance, like me, people now know and are aware of the Sacredness of the head dress to Native Americans.
“To those who I have offended, I sincerely apologise.”
Alf is bemused because this seems to create all sorts of difficulties for all sorts of people.
Those who bowl along to a fancy dress party, for example.
Alf once turned up at such a party as a nun. He will not be apologising to Catholics, no matter their expressions of outrage.
Way back in his younger days he used to ride an Indian motor bike. He recalls it having a headdress on the motor tank.
This means he rode around Eketahuna with an Indian between his legs.
That’s gotta be offensive to somebody, surely.
But it’s easy to fall afoul of someone who complains they have been offended. Or someone who complains on behalf of somebody else who they fear might have been offended.
Spanish fashion retailer Zara has apologised for selling a striped T-shirt bearing a yellow star that drew criticism for its resemblance to uniforms worn by Jewish concentration camp inmates.
The garment was advertised online as a striped “sheriff” T-shirt, apparently inspired by “the sheriff’s stars from the Classic Western films”.
Alf does not recall John Wayne or Garry Cooper wearing striped T shirts.
Let’s put that down to artistic licence.
But it was on sale for just a few hours before the company pulled it “due to the potential similarity with the Star of David.”
A bloke at Slate expressed his indignation at Zara’s actions and juxtaposed the offending garment with a picture of some Jews at Buchenwald, as a frame of reference.
Their stars have a big N on them, which stands for Niederländer.
Suffice to say, Twitter was outraged, and Zara is pulling the garment.
The Buchenwald stripes are vertical and those on the T shirt are horizontal.
Does that matter?
It seems not.
The USA might have to have a bit of a think about its national flag. Stars and stripes. Someone somewhere is bound to be offended.
Talking about the USA, there are some sensitive flowers in that country too and they squawked after the British embassy in Washington celebrated the anniversary of the burning of the White House.
Some Americans took umbrage after it emerged that the embassy had staged a party to “commemorate” the events of 26 August 1814, when British troops set fire to the presidential residence.
Sent from the official embassy twitter account, @UKinUSA, the tweet showed a cake with a miniature reproduction of the White House on top, flanked by British and American flags and surrounded by sparklers.
The caption accompanying the photo read: “Commemorating the 200th anniversary of burning the White House. Only sparklers this time!”
The tweet reopened grievances over the only occasion in history that the US capital has been invaded.
British troops occupied Washington for 26 hours, setting fire to the Capitol and White House before being forced to retreat after a tornado struck.
The reaction from humourless Yanks resulted in the embassy posting an apology.
The one apology that Alf would have demanded in recent days, if he had any say in the matter, came from a sheila who was director of children’s services in the English town of Rotherham for three of the 16 years during which 1,400 children were sexually exploited. She now works as deputy secretary of Victoria’s education department and said she “can’t not” take responsibility for what happened in the UK.
A report published this week after a long investigation blamed failures of political and police leadership for the gang rape, trafficking, and exploitation of the children in the South Yorkshire town between 1997 and 2013.
The investigation concluded that the council knew as far back as 2005, the same year Sharp began her three-year position as director of children’s services at the council. Sharp was not criticised in that report.
“You can’t be a director of children’s services and not take responsibility for what happens to children,” Sharp said in a statement.
“I am sorry that these children and young people suffered terrible abuse and I wish we could have done more to prevent the abuse of children and young people in Rotherham.”
So we’ve got one apology. There should be many more. Lots of sackings, too.
The most bizarre expression of sorrow came from the family of the gun instructor who was accidentally shot dead in Arizona by the nine-year-old who lost control of the Uzi sub-machine gun.
The accidental killing of a firing range instructor by a 9-year-old girl learning to shoot an Uzi unleashed a storm of criticism and anger, with much of it aimed at her parents.
But the ex-wife and children of instructor Charles Vacca say they harbor no ill feelings toward the girl and her family. Instead, they feel sorry for the child and want to write her a letter to comfort her.
“That’s truly how we feel,” Vacca’s ex-wife, Anamarie, told The Associated Press by phone.
A somewhat belated apology came from Nico Rosberg a week after his come-to with Lewis Hamilton when the German’s apparent lunge ended the Brit’s race during the Belgian Grand Prix.
After a meeting between the two drivers and Mercedes F1 bosses Rosberg has admitted guilt in a public statement and received an unspecified punishment from his team.
‘The number one rule for us as teammates is that we must not collide but that is exactly what happened.
‘For that error of judgement, I apologise to Lewis and the team. I also want to say sorry to the fans who were deprived of our battle for the lead in Belgium.
Lewis and I have been given clear instructions about how we race each other.’
In New South Wales a primary school a principal has apologised for referring to students with mental health problems as “morons” and “village idiots”.
Chris Cundy, the principal at Calare public school in Orange, wrote an internal letter to his staff notifying them of an upcoming mental health workshop at the school. Cundy asked teachers to identify students who may have “2 heads, webbed feet” or who were “village idiots”.
“I will send out a well-scripted letter in week 4 starting off: Have you bred a moron? You might like to access the services of Calare’s new initiative, ‘Operation Nutcase’. Sign on the dotted line or leave your thumbprint if you can’t write,” the letter said.
After the letter gained widespread media coverage on Thursday, Cundy wrote to parents apologising for his “serious error of judgment”.
“My attempt at humour was misguided and inappropriate,” he said in the statement. “I apologise for any hurt or grief I have caused anybody in the school and wider Calare community.”
Dunno if Alf would have apologised in this case, bearing in mind we are talking about Australians.
He is delighted to learn that one parent said it would be a shame to see Cundy’s career ruined over the letter.
“He’s a bloody good principal,” he said. “The kids at school all respect him and all the parents respect him.
“I just think it was an in-house sort of joke which was probably in bad taste and he obviously regrets it.
Let’s wrap up a sorry week with another Kiwi.
Lorde has apologised for swearing after picking up the MTV Video Music Award for best rock video for her hit single Royals today.
The 17-year-old hugged her friend Taylor Swift and sister Jerry, who was sitting beside her, before taking the stage to accept the award.
Dressed in a velvet Chanel jumpsuit the singer thanked her school friends who appeared in the video and the director Joel Kefali.
“This is really crazy and I’m super grateful,” she said.
She appeared flustered on the stage, saying “Is there, like, a specific place I’m supposed to looking?” and let slip “s**t”, for which she apologised.
If you can’t say “shit” when you are flustered, things have come to a pretty pass.
Alf would have used the F word n that situatioln.
He would not have apologised.