Warning – contains f****ing rudery
Am I too crude? Do I swear too much? I’ve been wondering lately, about my fondness for the vulgar. The other day James persuaded me to come to a badminton evening at the village hall. Why? I dunno – end of the holidays I suppose and his boredom had reached a new slough. Anyhow, I missed an easy shot rather spectacularly and shot out a plosive ‘Bugger!’ A frown appeared from the other side of the net.
‘Oh shit, I’m so sorry,’ I said, terribly politely. And then, I confess, I laughed, which probably made it worse.
And then, the other day, I posted up this thingy on Facebook on horoscopes cos it made me crack up laughing. And a lot of people laughed too and cheerily admitted they were perverted psychos or whiny bimbos or flaky derelicts. But one friend expressed disquiet, saying ‘I find calling someone or something a ‘fucktard’ is ultimately corrosive – not of them or it, but of me.’
And I thought about it. And I looked at the horoscope thingy again and it still made me laugh. Cos we all have rotten sides, don’t we? We all have a shadow and I know that, sure as eggs is eggs, I’m one greedy emo alright. And then I got to thinking about how I use swearing, and why. And whether it really is corrosive for my soul to call someone a fucktard. In a fond way, of course.
And then, in a timely fashion, Mike, this guy I chat to online said how he had a Twitter account dedicated to ‘creative cursing’ so I asked him about it. And he said: ‘I'm an amateur really, but I think nicely written rants and insults blended with just the right amount of swearing, and mis-using words, can make people laugh. For example the C word as a verb, for example "that was cu**ng excellent".’
And he differentiated that from ‘pure swearing’ where you just call people ‘effing wankers’ cos you can’t think of anything else to say. Which I agreed with but I pushed him on it and said, ‘But why? Why is swearing so good?’ And he went on to say that swearing can be a release and that maybe it’s because there is a finite amount of swear phrases which ‘gives the whole thing limits.’ Though then he went on to say that new ones do ‘pop up from time to time (i.e. tea bagger). Huh? *reaches for urban dictionary*.
And then we had a conversation about the best languages for swearing and he reckoned Dutch was good but I said Polish won hands down cos I have never EVER come across a language which is quite so inventive when it comes to cussing. You know how the Inuit or whoever are supposed to have 50 words for snow? Well I reckon the Poles must have well over 50 words for fuck.
But, bottom line, he said. ‘Swearing's important. Imagine if you didn't do it? I remember being nine or so and thinking "I can't wait ‘til I'm old enough to swear.’
Now I can’t say that thought ever crossed my mind. My parents never swore in front of me when I was a child (and let me add, swiftly, that I didn't ever swear in front of James when he was small). In fact, my mother was so innocent that when my brother (aged two) sat on the bus proudly going ‘Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!’ she didn’t bat an eyelid and couldn’t understand why she was getting filthy looks. She told my father who apparently rolled his eyes and sighed, ‘Oh Rosemary.’
You know, I fucking love that story!
But anyhow, I went back to Mike and said, ‘Yeah. I hear you but…why?’ And he said. ‘Because you’re not supposed to, I suppose.’
Is that it? Is it the naughtiness? A tiny act of rebellion? Or just to raise a laugh? Not entirely, I feel. I think, for me, it’s about contrast. I love language. No, that’s not strong enough: I fucking adore language. I like the way sounds sound rolling round my mouth and floating through my head. I often re-edit a sentence a score of times so it has the right cadence as well as the correct meaning. And sometimes a swear word fits the bill just perfectly. It punctuates a sentence – a short staccato stab, a verbal shock, a start in the middle or a full spat-out stop. A judiciously placed fuck or cunt is a seizure to the senses.
But what about the guy down the pub who grunts, ‘You’re all fucking cunts’ as he staggers out the door? Well, I doubt he ponders cadence but hey, I suppose he’s speaking the truth as he sees it.
Now, I’m guessing many of you will respond that there is a hierarchy of swearing. That shit is maybe ‘okay’ and that you’ll admit to the odd ‘fuck’ but you would never ever use ‘the C word’. Because it’s demeaning to women and all. Well, y’know, I hear you but, consider this...words only have the power to hurt if you claim them; if you let them define you. I've been called a cunt many the time - sometimes with sad impotent venom, sometimes with a curious fondness. Does it bother me? Not remotely.
Btw, do I let James swear? Well, it’s like this. I know he swears – all 13 year old boys do, whether you like it or not and whether or not they admit it to you. We have talked about it (like we talk about most things) and I have told him my position on it - that a good swear is a wonderful thing but, like a lot of other wonderful things, it needs using appropriately if in public. ‘Yeah, right, Mother,’ he said. He’s taken to calling me Mother (with a very capital M) lately. ‘Like on the buggering badminton court in Brushford, eh?’ Oh bugger.
P.S. Where's Frankie? This post needs Frankie input.