Wednesday, 20 January 2010

May contain adult language from the start

Just the other day while indulging in a little gentle subediting at at the Newspaper I Occasionally Visit the chap sitting next to me apologised. And it wasn't the first time either. He was saying sorry for swearing within range of my delicate female ears. For him it was a kind of reflex - you don't say rude words in front of ladies, ever. But what he'd said hadn't shocked me, in fact, I barely noticed as effing and blinding of the most ripe kinds just wash over me.
When I made my brief foray into the world of public relations, the cursing - or lack thereof - was one of the most shocking aspects.
Compared to many of my newspaper colleagues, of all genders, I was a very mild swearer, turning the air only the very palest duck egg. So, within days of starting at the PR agency I was surprised to have to turn down my inner oath generator (or at least keep them to myself) and it wasn't as if my new PR chums were shrinking violets, far from it. They just didn't use crude language with the enthusiasm of print journalists.
Now given that women have been part of the newspaper office landscape for many decades, you'd think that their male colleagues would have got over the notion that they might some how be offended by the explosive use of a frankly described sexual organ or act.
If you think about it, the words themselves are just direct descriptions of things most of us grown-ups see, do, or, at least, bring to mind, reasonably frequently. So why would they bother us at all?
In fact, most of them don't really cause offence. If you think back to 1994 and that cuddly floppy Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral. It opens with the words: "F***, f****, f***ety, f***."
(Here you'll see that I had a bit of a dither about the use of asterisks given the nature of this blog. However, I've decided to go with the coy option in case full frontal rudery confounds search engines and the like.)
When safe-as-houses Mr G used that word to such cute effect, you couldn't really get upset by it now, could you? He f***ed up f*** for us.
There is one word though that still causes an intake of breath. It was recently described to me as the C-bomb. You know that word. Actually it's an extraordinarily satisfying word and it is another name for a bit of anatomy I posses, so I don't see why I shouldn't use it when I like. In fact, it might be time to liberate the word from its "oooh naughty" status. Anyone up for a campaign - I've got a c***, therefore I demand the right to say the word?
As with so many things it's not what you say but the way that you say it. Swearing itself shouldn't to be banned - but bad, boring swearing should be. Conversely, a right good blasting of profanity can be just what the doctor ordered. Follow the example of The Thick of It's Malcolm Tucker for some properly creative and biologically improbable dirty word wizardry.
And as he would say: "That's enough of that big, flaccid, donkey cock wank."


  1. Brilliant! I had a funny experience last year while out running with some chaps. One guy was happily chatting away, F-ing and C-ing without a second thought. But then, when he threw out a big spit to the side of the road and somewhere within 2metres of me he apologised profusely. I laughed out loud. I questioned why he felt the need to say sorry for gobbing but thought that swearing every other word was just fine. Neither bothered me in the slightest as I swear and gob (while running) like anyone else - it was just this chap's say-sorry-decision-making process that was funny!

  2. Love it! The C word has long been my favourite word...largely for its shock value but also because it comes with a lot more meaning than the f one.
    However, I feel you are a tad late as it already has its own facebook groups and book....

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  4. I love a bit of swearing me. It was when the 3-year old was marching round the living room saying 'Facking football!' in my accent as opposed to her father's that I realised it was time to rein it in! One of my friends on FB recently said he was deleting friends who swore on their status - FFS!

    (sorry for deleted comment above, it was the same as this one but with rogue punctuation!)

  5. I don't swear that often, but it doesn't really bother me either way. I've had to learn not to as Amy just copies everything and it would sod's law that she went in school and told everyone to F off.

    One of my journo friends swears like a trooper, so I see what you mean.

    CJ xx

  6. Sometimes only a swear word will do when you really really need to vent and express yourself. I wish I only swore on those occasions but sadly it's a very normal part of my life. Surprised about your comments re: PR, I've been in PR for years and years and that's were I learnt the best expressions.

    I just LOVE Malcolm Tucker too!

  7. swearing is one of life's great pleasures until you have kids and they start to imitate you and it becomes like having blue balls - you can't express yourself creatively anymore for fear they'll say 'why can't I say cunt my mum does' at school.....

  8. Must be a generation thing, because I really find the constant stream of f and c words a sort of verbal pollution, which gets in the way. I did watch one episode of The Thick of It, but somehow my ears only hear the swear words and not the gist of the comedy.
    Now, the real question is why do I feel I ought to apologise for NOT being an 'anything goes' free-mouthed liberal? Besides, if the swearing becomes the norm, what are you going to say to get that feeling of having done something really wicked and broken the rules? Mxx

  9. Fi, swear beats gob any day.
    SS, I knew mum wouldn't like it!
    Jo, yes it's all wrong when the kids do it, although it can be funny. Boy Two was overheard shouting "shut the f***s up" at his brother. I couldn't tell him off for laughing.
    CJ, It's true, Boy One's the same. He doesn't understand why you can say some words in some places but not in others and if they get a reaction once he'll keep going with it.
    IAML, Maybe I just worked with demure PR types.
    Emma, It's a chance to use default reply to kids number 1 - "Just because I said so".
    M, you don't have to apologies and I totally take your point about having a really bad word in reserve for the extreme situations x


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