When I was about five years old, I had a pal who was a year and two days older than me. Stuart Burrows his name was, or Buzz to his mates, and he taught me the ways of the world.
Please don’t get the impression that we’d sit in fields and show each other our genitals; that didn’t come until much later. No, Buzz enlightened me in ways I remain truly grateful to him for, wherever he is right now, probably in some Berkshire shed with his hands up a cow.
Buzz taught me how to swear.
I got in all manner of trouble when I was younger for cursing like a fisherman with his foot caught in a wicker basket. Long before I knew what fucking was I describing every single object on God’s earth with that adjective, and the type of words that would spring from my cherubic face would have Mr and Mrs Burrows wincing as they took me back to Chapel Lane and my soon-to-be-enraged parents.
The best thing was it made me feel like an adult. They all swore and then told us not to. Fuck that, I’m a big boy and if I want to tell Mrs Lees to piss off because I haven’t yet learnt how to filter it out in dangerous situations I’ll bloody well do so. If I remember rightly I told her to ‘piss off please’, which with hindsight is an even funnier thing to say to a primary school teacher.
But I did eventually learn to filter it, after a great many goes at a hundred lines and countless furious phone calls to my exasperated mother. Swearing became something I did in genuine rage, for comic effect or simply lazily when everyone else around me was bandying around a bollocks or two. I do the same today, because I’m a wanker like that.
All the while it was very obvious that these are just words. They can certainly hurt; a well-aimed ‘fuck you’ can wound like a blade and must never, ever be used if you don’t mean it. But they’re invariably funny, or just silly.
What they are not, at all, and never have been, is offensive.
If you are offended by a selection of letters of the alphabet written or spoken in a specific order, you must be one of those people waiting for something to take offence at. You know, like the religious, or parents, or any form of self-appointed moral guardian who probably gets up to a lot worse than the rest of us ever would or could when nobody’s about. Feel free to get on your high horse sir; it’ll make it easier for us all to see those ladies’ panties you guilty snuck on this morning.
People who take offense at swearing claim that ‘there’s no need for it’. Well I wholeheartedly disagree my good fellow; sometimes there’s a clear and definite need for a cheeky cunt and when I’m presented with someone moaning about the use of just plain words I’m almost certainly on the verge of letting one loose. They also say that it’s not funny. Clearly they’ve not seen The Thick of It.
They say that if you can’t get across your point without swearing you suffer from a paucity of both language and imagination. Oh I can perfectly well get across my point without swearing old boy, I simply choose to call a shit a shit to see your outraged face turn marginally redder, arming you with the offence you so desperately crave.
And who is the biggest prude of them all in this regard? Who hates swearing more than Tom hates Jerry? Tim Berners fucking Lee, that’s who, or whoever we must blame for the creation of that at which you now stare. This website has had to change its name because it has been causing me more problems than I can be bothered to deal with, solely by virtue of having four specific letters in a row in its URL. Christ alone knows how Scunthorpe United manage their online presence.
But I am not the type of man to position myself at the vanguard of a quest to make swearing commonly accepted across the internet. For one thing, I don’t care anywhere near enough. That’s the only thing.
Swearing is a glorious form of expression that is not used too much, because they’re just words, and not used too little because those of us filling that swear jar up with 10p coins are providing the world with a service in entertainment, pointless offence, and just showing the rest how to be a fucking adult about life.
And if you don’t like it you can, well, you know.