I Love Swear Words

June 3, 2008 at 8:29 am (Uncategorized)

Strange… it let me read Rosy’s comment, write my own and check my blog stats, but the second I tried to post, KABOOM, Batman and Robin style. Crash after crash. So here I am down the road at a different internet cafe (when I go for a change of scenery I really like to put myself around), having braved Sydney’s decidedly foul weather to come shout from the rooftops that I love swearing. Why am I telling you this now? Well, I suppose it’s because of chef Gordon Ramsay.

Gordon Ramsay has been copping it from the Australian press in recent weeks for one thing or another. One was being slightly taciturn during an interview with The Good Weekend‘s Mark Dapin. I usually really enjoy Dapin’s features, and his column is hilarious, but I really came down on Ramsay’s side this time. Dapin kept taking Ramsay down a path he’s already trodden (quickly, successfully, and in the opposite direction), being his feelings about his abusive father, and Ramsay understandably got pretty jack of it, and fast. And Dapin spent the rest of the profile justifying himself rather than reflecting on all the very good and proper reasons Ramsay kicked him out of his Wandsworth house after a 17 minute interview. Well, Mr Dapin, it’s because you were being a tool (and just quietly, I don’t think Ramsay gives a toss if you ‘think he’s all right’ or not).

Anyway, Dapin mentions Ramsay’s fondness for the F word, and we don’t mean food. And a couple of weeks ago I read another profile (Ramsay is due out here and is rumoured to be sniffing around for an Australian property to add to his gastronomic empire) where the journo held forth at some length about Ramsay’s predilection for a well-placed expletive. A man after my own heart. I have a PhD and a potty mouth. Yes, I love the dark arts and the naughty bits. What’s a great conversation without a good fuck?

Oh, I know it’s terribly uncouth of me, but I can’t help myself (fuck it). When I read in A Novel in a Year that the author believes swearing in fiction usually betrays an immaturity in the writer, quite honestly the first word that crossed my mind was “Bullshit.”

How can this be, I wondered? People I know swear all the time. I swear all the time. I love to swear. If there’s such a thing as swearing well, then I like to think I do. I think a well-chosen ‘shit for brains’ or ‘fuckhead’ or ‘cock breath’ can really lift a sentence to giddy heights of illicit pleasure. And the big reason why I am mounting a defence of the swear word is that it’s just the way a lot of people talk. If there wasn’t any swearing in my manuscript, I’d actually think it failed the test of the real. I don’t know about the conversations you have with your friends or around your dinner table or leaning on the bar of your favourite pub, but here in my social milieu, we like our martinis and our mores dirty. A lot of my favourite people are inveterate, really tremendous swearers. There’s an art to it, I think, and I admire their abilities and try to learn from their genius. Also it’s just plain old too late for me to mend my wicked, wicked ways. And I think that all these writers of all these articles that focus on Gordon Ramsay’s swearing are kidding themselves. Where are they living that ‘fuck’-ing isn’t a natural part of daily life? And if these are Australian writers, these would be censors, then I can only express surprise, because for as long as I’ve been alive, Australians have sworn like troupers. Long may it continue (sometimes it just feels good).


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