We all have them. You go to a college, they give you a Visitor Pass and then you forget to hand it in when you leave. It’s on your lapel and then you see folks in the street staring at your chest.

Not a problem for me, but the ladies amongst us might find this distressing, or flattering perhaps. I know not. My car is full of them. I reckon I could get into half the colleges in the country.

When I worked in Wandsworth the Chief Executive of the Council was bothered about these badges and, in what he thought was an inspired moment, decreed that they should be worn “at eye level”.

Whether this was to be achieved by the careful application of BluTak or SuperGlue was not explained, but it might have been helpful, if painful.

But those badges on neck wotsits are a pain. Just back from the AoC conference I spent my time staring at people’s tummies (unobtrusively of course).

You know how it is, “I seem to know that person, let me get close in a sidelong and subtle kind of way of course. Glance sideways and look down. I shall try to stare at their midriff without arousing suspicion.” I felt like a pervert!

Then they spot this and try to read yours. What is the etiquette for this? Now you are both trying to read tummies in an unobtrusive way.

What is worse is that you think that you vaguely know them but they are so much older and seem to have gone grey, and, worse, you have no idea if they are friend or foe.

And by the time you have both clocked one another it is too late to escape. “Nick,” they say, “didn’t we meet at…” wherever and then you realise how you know them and fake a phone call and run off into Starbucks.

The AoC should bring back lapel badges. Or something at eye level. Or maybe bar codes.


By Nick Warren

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