I have a question: why do tourists to Africa wear khaki?
I mean, I can understand the theory of khaki (so that you can creep through the undergrowth undetected, or render yourself invisible in the desert in a sort of khaki/sand blur if you’re member of poor allied forces in the Middle East). I just can’t fathom why American and Italian and Japanese visitors going ‘on safari’ need wear it?
Yesterday Mum and I – enjoying a sandwich in tourist hangout which is en route to school so handy place to enjoy a sandwich if you find yourself early for pick up but in time for lunch – witnessed the arrival of dozens and dozens of khaki coloured land cruisers which were disgorging dozens and dozens of matching khaki clad Americans, most quite fat and all talking – loudly – at the same time. If they purchased khaki garments in which they were attired for camouflage purposes, their strident tones – and acres of blindingly white flesh – was something of a give away. One of the fattest and loudest was wearing a khaki mini skirt. She’d have scared away the most daring of buffaloes; indeed she almost put me off my lunch. One of her companions was on the wrong continent altogether: she was sporting tiger stripes.
See here’s a thing: if tourists believe that wearing khaki trousers/shorts/shirts/faintly ridiculous multi-pocketed/zipped waistcoats will mean they’ll see larger numbers of elusive game, they won’t – not only will the sound of a dozen voices all shrilly emanating from matching khaki coloured land cruisers at once scare any lurking game away, but also – like khaki coloured tourists – khaki coloured land cruisers are rather inclined to stick together and the roar of 17 4x4s and the dust they combine to throw heavenwards (not to mention energetic conversational outpouring) is a dead giveaway to a family of cheetah, say. ‘Oh bugger’, that cats will grumble crossly, just as they’ve found a nice acacia for a siesta, ‘those bloody tourists who think we can’t see them are on the approach again. Sod it’. And they’ll push off. Occasionally, of course, they’re a little slow off the mark and are copped mid-escape to be exposed to khaki-clad paparazzi who still think they can’t be seen despite all popping out of roof hatches like meercats out of holes, wielding cameras that buzz and whirr and flash irritatingly. Every cheetah in Africa knows precisely how Kate Moss feels, believe me.
And I can’t help wondering, when they get home, the tourists, to Loughborough or Slough or Colorado or Tokyo, what they do with safari ensemble. Once they’ve ticked off the Big Five will they feel compelled to return to Africa (which would give khaki pants the chance for a second outing)? Or will it be relegated to back of wardrobe along with all the clothes that used to fit them when they were 19 and which they – somewhat optimistically – believe they’ll get back into one day, despite being in their fifties. I know it never gets worn ‘back home’: I mean have you ever seen a khaki attired shopper wearing a bush hat and sporting a pair of binoculars around his neck stalking the aisles of Tesco, pushing a trolley?