September 29, 2017
Biff, Chip, Kipper, cottaging — you know, normal British stuff
by Simon Reichley
As Alison Flood reports this week at the Guardian, Oxford University Press is catching some classic Twitter heat for an alleged depiction of “cottaging” in an installment of their popular children’s book series “Biff, Chip and Kipper” (BCK). According to the OUP website, the books are used to teach children how to read in eighty percent of British primary schools.
What’s cottaging, you ask? Apparently, it is British slang for anonymous gay sex.
This tweet from Ed Brody brought the suggestive sequence to light:
Somewhat dubious scenes spotted in the background of a friend's 4yo's school book pic.twitter.com/opF9ogsQwO
— Ed Brody (@chiefbrody1984) September 24, 2017
Responses to this thread also point to a scene in which a priest is in a dressing room filled with kids (along with their coach). Concerned citizens have found other examples of BCK shenanigans, including the not-so-subtle appearance of the word “hepatitis” spelled out in a stack of alphabet blocks:
Here, one Tweeter speculates, is a very strange allusion to either a Nazi or a murderous Catholic priest.
Biff, Chip and Kipper are at it again. pic.twitter.com/nmgmaXuZFw
— Andy Parmo 🇪🇺 (@andyparmo) September 28, 2017
In a statement, OUP has assured readers that “our books are created with the utmost thought and consideration…We take the utmost care to ensure that our content is age appropriate and would not cause harm or offence to any child who reads our books.” They go on to point out that the images Brody found so allusive actually appear several pages apart.
Flood’s shoe-leather reporting reveals that “in the missing pages, all sorts of activity appears to be taking place behind the bushes, including two children running away at high speed, some dogs chasing each other, a man carrying a mysterious large bag — and then the startled old woman. It is not immediately clear what has surprised the woman.”
Also, there’s this.
Parents with children of a certain age, you remember the one about Biff, Chip, Kipper, Floppy…. and Hitler with a dog right? #parenting pic.twitter.com/zXvO2Axmgt
— Mark Carlton (@markcarlton) August 18, 2017
See you next week.
Simon Reichley is the Director of Operations and Rights Manager at Melville House.