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.”