When the fuck is my house going to be finished – I chalked that on the pantry door of my new home and it didn’t half make me feel better when I saw it as I brewed yet another sodding round of builders’ tea.
Admittedly it was in Pitman 2000 shorthand so they couldn’t read it but it was something to giggle about for the near year it stayed there because completing the works wasn’t a priority for the family friend I’d stupidly entrusted the project to, and I could still safely let my wee grandson draw on the chalkboard.
That act of swearing really helped me get the frustration off my chest without resorting to grabbing the drill off the guy when he did bother to turn up, and sticking it where the Sun don’t shine to whizz him into action.
I admit, I’m absolutely shit at languages, as the two U – for unclassified – results in my German and French O Levels proves, but I do speak fluent family (local accent, no swearing), mates (thick accent, all the swear words you can think of apart from see you next Tuesday) and telephone (no swearing and a stupid la-di-dah voice).
I never once swore in front of my mum and dad, though my two girls have had the thick end of the profanity parade but, as they were always in and out of the dressing rooms at the Sunday footie games I covered, they were used to it.
Eventually I did have to ban them once we realised Monday’s school tale of spending the weekend with mummy in a room full of naked men probably wasn’t a good idea – the funny thing was, the lads would cover their mouths and apologise when a rude word slipped out but never noticed that the towel had also slipped!
Working in newsrooms at local, regional and national papers simply cemented the potty-mouth as “fuckety fuck fuck you fuckwit” is most definitely the best way to cope with an editor deciding they don’t like the layout, or a picture needs tweaking, just as you’ve hit send to print and those enormous presses are about to roll.
Mind you, realising I’d re-run the previous week’s National Lottery numbers so the first 15,000 copies of a national Sunday newspaper would have to be pulped actually only merited a short, sharp “bugger”, which was enough to let off steam before getting on with halting the presses.
But I also seamlessly switch between mates and telephone when interviewing on the blower, before covering the mouthpiece and screaming blue murder at whoever’s being a knob in the background.
Swearing is perfect for the release of tension, while also getting the point firmly across, and really is good for us, as a bunch of jolly clever chaps and chapesses have just confirmed with their research that shows it really is fucking big and sodding clever to swear, making people fitter, happier and more persuasive.
Apparently, human brains store and process swearwords differently from other language, with normal words coming from the left hemisphere while the naughty ones are mostly in the limbic system in the right hemisphere, giving vent to people’s emotions.
Which explains why people often became cantankerous, sweary old gits as it’s the left hemisphere that’s destroyed by strokes or Alzheimer’s disease while the limbic system records the emotional content of words, so you might have lost the power of normal speech but can still cuss with the best of them.
That’s good to know as I’ve noticed recently that I’m tending to let slip with a few more rude words nowadays, although I do try to temper it as “rats”, “drat”, “pooh”, “arse” and “bugger”
Actually, bugger is an interesting illustration of the two nations divided by a common language truth as it’s a normal exclamation and frequent endearment for many Brits, especially those who grew up in the 70s and prior, yet it never crosses a Yank’s lips in contrast to the constant “fuck”, “asshole” and “sonofabitch”.
It was probably the favourite epithet for both my parents even though they’d swear blind they never swore – we never batted an eyelid at being called little buggers while the couple of times I heard my mum say “shit” are seared on my eardrums and the fall-out when they heard “fuck” from my then-five-year-old daughter in the back of her grandad’s car was fucking hell to say the least.
Whether the more God-fearing Americans don’t use bugger because it really means sodomy I’ve no idea, my parents certainly had no clue, but my personal hated swearword is see you next Tuesday – see, I can’t even write it – and I don’t use berk for the same reason, as it’s from rhyming slang for Berkeley Hunt, but I don’t mind twat.
And I do love the originality and ingenuity of British insults and swearing, with wanker, cockwomble, bell end, knobhead, twatwaffle, and all those lovely old ones like zounds (God’s wounds), gorblimey (God blind me), crikey (Christ kill me), and gadzooks (God’s hooks). We really do have far more imagination than our pals across the pond.
And that’s how I know I’m definitely in the Sweary People Are My Kind Of People club – useful as the whole point of this blog is to bring The Chiswick Gift Company’s fabulous new badge collection to readers’ attention, with the Swearing Is Big And Clever design particularly apt as the uni research proves.
Check out the range here and buy them for all the sweary people in your life :)
This has all been written by the awesome Tracey Bearton - A legend of the gift industry whom I've known for a decade or 2. This is her:
Tracey Bearton has loved journalism and newspapers since starting by writing Sunday football reports for her local paper while still at school. Having worked for local, regional and national papers in the UK and Ireland, she’s now freelance on trade mags and, oddly, also a part-time parish council clerk – that’s what Covid does to your CV!