Wednesday, January 4, 2012


As usual, our TV screens were cluttered up this Christmas with an assortment of film actors playing Santa. (Playing Santa seems to come second only in achievements to playing the President of the United States.) I found it sad that several of them were more likely to be using very un-Christmassy language (you know what I mean) than uttering Ho! Ho! Ho! To me that seems to be an insult to the whole spirit of Christmas.
Surfing the channels for an alternative, I happened upon Gordon Ramsay fulminating all over the food, effing and blinding in a way that has earned him a huge following and lots of money. I can’t think why. Since when did a chef become better known for his bad language than his actual cooking skills?

Lovely Gordon - it's always on the tip of his tongue you could say.

Yes, I know I am being an old fogey, but at my age that is my prerogative.

We speak and write these days with much more freedom than we used to. Subjects that used to be taboo when I was young are now freely aired. Books cover everything imaginable and films and TV bombard the senses with ‘too much information’, as we now say.
My 19-year old granddaughter uses the F-word with complete nonchalance and thinks I am ‘weird’ if I object. It’s no big deal, she tells me after she has used it yet again on Facebook. What’s your problem Grandma?

 My problem is that I remember it being a forbidden word, one of several that I never heard my parents use. My grandfather used the word ‘b----r’ frequently and my sister repeated it in her clear little 3-year old voice one day when we were invited to tea with some very genteel neighbours. Shock, horror; Grandpa in the doghouse. Obscene language belonged in barracks and on board ships, and, so it was rumoured, in some bedrooms, but was unthinkable in the family home.

It is amazing, these days, to think how many books we read then and how many films we saw without words like this being used. Actors were required to express strong emotions by actually acting, using their bodies and voices to convey feelings rather than relying on a script. Novels of the time may seem stilted by today’s standards, but they contained some very fine writing which is slowly coming to be recognized again. Howard Spring, H. E Bates, Louis Golding – if anyone has any old books by these authors languishing in the back of a cupboard, looking for a home, I would love to know about it.

At some stage in my teens I found out about the existence of the
 F-word; don’t ask me how. The tribal drums of adolescence no doubt. I searched in vain, reading all of the modern American writers along the way, hoping to experience the thrill of the forbidden. Everyone knew that this word, and certain others, appeared in the book ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ by D.H. Lawrence. First published, in Italy, in 1928, the book could not be published in England until 1960, because of its explicit descriptions of sex. (Personally, I think that the concept of an aristocratic married woman having an affair with a working-class man was just as controversial at that time). People  actually smuggled into Britain copies of an edition published by the Olympia Press in Paris When Penguin Books brought it out they were promptly taken to court under the Obscene Publications Act, but they won their case and the way was opened for the publication of other hitherto banned books.

Over the years, a certain reluctance to use the F-word has persisted, until now, that is, when many films, both drama and comedy, rely upon it heavily. The c-word, on the other hand, remains slightly more taboo, amongst ‘civilized’ people anyway. If you want to read a marvellous description of why this might be and what is the difference between the two words, then read Lady Chatterley!!

Here is an interesting link:

Another word that is now in such common use that I do not feel it necessary to express it in euphemistic asterisks and dashes, is ‘shit’. Shit happens, as we all know, a pithy contemporary saying that sums up so much.
According to the Urban Dictionary, ‘shit happens’ refers to something happening that is out of your control and usually results in a negative situation.


On Christmas Eve, shit happened to me, when a foul smell suddenly seeped throughout our apartment and was quickly followed by the sound of water dripping fast. I went into my bedroom, to find brown ‘water’ leaking through the ceiling, rapidly followed by the appearance of a hole and drops of something more solid.
While cursing the follies of D-I-Y Corfiot builders, I gave thanks for the willingness of Corfiot neighbours to help in an emergency, even one as smelly as this and happening at such an inappropriate time.
With luck, now that we may speak and write so much more freely, no-one will feel it necessary to take offence at this blog.

F is the sixth letter in the English language. It stands for Fun, Food, the F-Plan Diet, Freedom of Speech, Fast Food and in school reports was usually accompanied by the words 'Could do better',



  1. Hmmmm... I think the abuse of certain words in our days, is just another sign of a certain "lifestyle", sadly lacking in certain values, which is being rammed down our throats whether we like it or not. Oh we are so free to swear and use any word we like, and isn't it great these tv personas who use the f-word are also so free (and so rich...) but we don't really have a choice do we? For example our choice of government is severely limited, but it doesn't matter about that as long as we can use the f-word and feel like Gordon effing Ramsay...
    Speaking of cooking I had a "popcorn happens" moment the other day. The chief popcorn maker forgot to put the bloody lid on didn't he. Kids were very amused...(I must say, certain words do add a certain something when you are trying to make a point or be funny though!)

  2. I was taught that the use of `bad` language showed a limited vocabulary.

  3. Really enjoy reading your blog, it always brings a smile to my face, can't wait for the next one. Thank you. Hazel


Feedback welcome-at least I'll know somebody's reading this!