Monday 3 September 2012

Oh bugger!

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. 


susan elliot wright said...

Oh what joy!! I absolutely love a good old swear-up. I don;t like it when people swear in anger AT someone (especially if it's me)but I think swearing can be very funny, expecially when it's creative. I loved 'buggerdy-fuck' in The King's Speech, and I think using the 'C' word as a verb is a cunting good idea, expecially when said in a posh accent.It's such an expressive word - I once had a male friend who listened patiently while I ranted on and on about the failings of my then boyfriend. I didn't stop for breath and when I finally finished after about five minutes, my friend just shook his head and said 'cunt'. Perfect! My grandma (who'd probably never even heard such words!) would talk disapprovingly about 'colourful language', but actually, I think that's a positive thing - I think it DOES add colour. I moderate my language if I feel I might offend someone, but in general, I'm in favour. Fucking good post!

Diwrite said...

The Mike you mention would tell you that I very rarely swear.
I still like phrases like good grief and blimey - partly because not many people use them, but mostly because a stupid comment or surprising occurrence doesn't deserve much more. Sometimes I'll go for bollocks but I prefer to save proper profanity for serious occasions.
When I do swear, however, it surprises the fuck out of people.
And that makes me smile.

Exmoorjane said...

@Di - I suspected as much. :) And I hear you - though I have a Pavlovian shudder at Blimey as my mother (yes, she gets a good airing in this post) used to say it was 'asking God to blind you' which scared the living bejesus out of me.
Bollocks is a great word and, incidentally, the first Spanish word my teacher taught me. :)

Diwrite said...

When I was in Peru, I learnt 'sikita mechay'(sp?) which is Quechua for kiss my ass. I never needed it though as I found 'No le creo!' with a Victor Meldrew flourish worked exceptionally well in a wide variety of situations.

My mother's phrase of choice when I was growing up was Jesus Wept - usually through gritted teeth.

I think our parent's generation were far more eloquent with their swearing. It was also more uniquely British, whereas we're perhaps a bit more global and less diverse with our swearing now.

Anonymous said...

It's true, DH rarely swears, but when she does, it's great. I agree that our parents generation were cleverer with their more economical swearing, when in truth they probably had more to swear about. Maybe we swear so much, it's lost some of the shock value, although I'm still shocked when I hear parents swear directly at their little children. Interestingly, in the recent stand-up screaming row I had with my annoying neighbour, I used the word ASBO to offend the fucking bell-end, because it's more effective on people like him.

Diwrite said...

Did you call him an ASBO or threaten to get him issued with one?

Bell-end is also good.

Unknown said...

I wasn't really thinking clearly at the time but I think I was mostly just calling him one. He's such a cockmaster, it's beyond belief. A dedicated disciple of Onan.

On another subject, if I get this comment up, finally, it will be because I finally got past that diabolical catchpa

Rosi D said...

I'm of the DH school of swearing. For some reason, people don't expect me to, so I enjoy their reactions. 'Bugger' is a lovely all-purpose day to day profanity though. Love the horoscopes!!

Anonymous said...

Fun to read because what is apparently really rude on your side of the pond isn't necessarily so elsewhere.
Twat? Okay, maybe on Monty Python. And I've never heard anybody say Bugger, or Blimey. Nobody I know would say Bloody unless they're describing a wound.

Margaret Grant said...

Thank you for making me laugh, oh I fooking needed that! One of my favorite things about British English is the swearing. You can add effing or bleeding to anything. And in the U.S. you can say bloody and nobody knows how bad it supposedly is. Love swearing that doesn't make sense, an especial favorite is dickless wanker. How would that work? Oh never mind. The important thing is to string as many swears as possible together all at once without stopping. I save the c word for inanimate objects that refuse to cooperate...

Anonymous said...

So happy to have found you blog. Hello :)

Years ago, as a foreign student at university in Britain, cunt was the *first* new word I came across. I had to ask a boy called Lloyd what it meant, bless me.

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with a good swear word! Amy doesn't swear purposely but often repeats what she's heard from me, albeit in the right context, which makes me wonder if I need to curb my language, too. I like a good swear on the blog sometimes but as my mum could have a laptop soon there's a chance she'll start reading my blog. Golly.

CJ x

Anonymous said...

Love this. Got me thinking too. I usually apologise when I swear. these days I think I'm of the shocking others variety. I'm sure I swear quite a bit but not usually in front of people.

Anonymous said...

Pierdolić, jebać, ruchać, pieprzyć, kurwa... Five only. :o( But each ten times stronger than 'fuck'. :o)

the veg artist said...

Mrs Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By, that's me, and I'm with your friend who feels that her words reflect on her. I can't see that cursing and dissing would get me anywhere.

Anne Wareham said...

Wish I could not do this, but I find myself swearing when I'm in company that might prefer me to use more polite language. Like a tic and in no way on purpose.

Embarrassing. Context is all.

Rob-bear said...

Shouldn't swear. Sounds like Hell, really. Not sure if it does any damn good.

It does cheapen language, and the people who use it. As your friend observed, "'ultimately corrosive – not of them or it, but of me.’" Actually it is corrosive of everyone. It lowers the level of general discourse, which is already appallingly low (read many conversations of public issues on Facebook, and you'll see how quickly the language degenerates into hatefulness). Ultimately, corrosive language devalues people.

Enuf said.

Nicola Vincent-Abnett said...

The husband has a nice line in made-up swears, particularly when it comes to idiots, and he's not above using them in anger, in public; among my favourites are 'git-finger', 'spanner-barb' and 'dick-brake'.

The C-word is officially banned in my house, but, let's face it, no fucker ever takes a blind bit of notice of any of my rules.