Saturday, 25 January 2014

Swearing with the Family

We have a swear word hierarchy in our house, as I'm sure exists in most houses. At the lower end of the scale, sweary word nuggets for all to delight in include arse, crud, cack and balls. For times of stress, and almost always used by the adults only (ie me) we save shite, bloody, bollocks, crap and occasionally feck. 

At the top end of the scale, words to only use when alone, and only in company when frightened for one's life, include shit, fuck and wank. The C word is off the scale. (It doesn't even feel good saying it, so what's the point?)

In general, I am in favour of silly swearing. The word 'arse', for example, is allowed in the house due mainly to its flexibility. It can be used in a Father Ted stylee, just for fun. Or as part of a more violent outburst, such as 'ARSE! I've just burnt my finger on the hob.' Or sometimes, I use it to get my rhythm when riding my bike up a hill ("arse, two, three; arse, two, three" etc). There is, of course, the phrase 'you're such an arse!' which, in this house, is used as a beautiful and tear-jerking term of endearment.

I found that, when the kids were small, I really wanted to swear a lot. Loudly and crudely. As luck would have it, when your children are under one year old, you can swear all you like. When it was 3pm, I was still in my dressing gown and my hair was unbrushed and dirty, nothing was washed up and there were indescribable bits all over the floor, and I was changing a nappy, I would sing - very softly - to the tune of Humpty Dumpty:

Fucking shitting cackety balls
Wanky Farty bollocking crud
Shittity fuckity crappity AAAAARSE
Fucking shitting cackety balls.

Put these words into any order and fit them to any nursery rhyme. They make you feel a whole lot better about life.

I tell the kids that swearing is all about context. Your can't walk around the house saying 'fuck' every five minutes because it loses its magic swear power. It ceases to work any more as a swear word. And from 'fuck', there's not many places to go. Apart from the C word. Which we don't talk about. So I'm not saying that 'fuck' isn't allowed. I'm just saying that I only want to hear it in an emergency.

For instance. A couple of summers ago, I hired a 1960s VW Campervan to take the kids on tour for a few days. My God, it looked cool. But My God, is was a fucker (excuse me) to drive. Left hand drive, hand brake on the dashboard, top speed of 45mph. I was nervous when I drove off from the hire place, kids in the back looking worried, but the nice man had said I'd have no trouble, and so I almost believed him. That is, until I reached a hill and realised that the van couldn't quite make it up it. And when I put the handbrake on, we started to slip backwards. On a main road. That was when I said "SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!" at the top of my voice.

Now, I don't remember saying this. The boys reminded me afterwards, when we had been helped to safety by some scary-looking but actually extremely lovely teenagers. They said that the combination of me using the S word, and the look of sheer terror on my face, meant the surety that we were all going to die. We joke about it now, of course (ho ho...ho) but my point is, that I was let off swearing at that point because a) it was an appropriate time to swear and b) I wasn't even aware I was doing it, so there was no point telling me off anyway.

I forgot to mention The Finger.  I will not have The Finger in this house, although the boys may proffer Two Fingers at unusual and appropriate times.  I have no idea why Two Fingers is more acceptable than One Finger.  Something to do with Agincourt, perhaps?  Whatever, Two Fingers is more Monty Python, One Finger more Benefit Street.  Not allowed.

That's it.  Time to do the tea.  Arse.


  1. Thank you for the sweary nursery rhyme. I'm sure this will come in useful. We have been double-barreling the swear words, "holy shit-balls" being the latest addition.

    1. Loving 'holy shit-balls' I'm wondering if it might fit to Pop Goes the Weasel. Something like "Feck! Holy shit-balls', or similar.

      Thanks so much for commenting - I really appreciate it.

  2. This is amazing post! I am so going to use this for teaching my student about the beauty of English language. Since he is working in the kitchen as a chef, I am sure he already heard some of it. Thank you xxx


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