I'll level with you: I'm on the fence somewhat. I'm very much of a mind that gratuitous swearing is best avoided. That's why it's gratuitous. Whilst I'm being honest, I may as well throw in that I spend a lot of time in pubs. Gratuitous swearing is rife in many pubs, which I'm sure will not be particularly shocking news to you.
The other night, when pot-bellied Paul told dozy Derek - and the rest of the pub, whether we liked it or not - that his effin' car broke down and that the effin' mechanic couldn't effin' fix it until Tuesday, my thoughts didn't exactly follow the lines of "What an eloquent chap. I must listen more closely to his words of wisdom". However, I'm firmly of the belief that swearing has its place.
Language is full of strength modifiers. We use very, extremely, and some of us even mis-appropriate really, but sometimes these words just aren't enough. The 'spring' we're currently enjoying, for example, isn't very cold. It isn't even extremely cold. It's fucking cold. There is no other word to adequately describe the bone-crunching, teeth-shattering chill which dares to rape the United Kingdom of its well-deserved spring.
Sometimes these words are even unbeatable as necessary insults. Since the release of my first book I have been burdened with an internet troll--whom I can only imagine to be a forty-year-old virgin with a combover, masturbating furiously in a public park in Hull--who insists on setting up new Amazon accounts every other week purely to post vitriolic reviews on my books and those of a select few other Chosen Ones. This gentleman is not a rogue, nor is he a bounder. He is a grade-A, first-class cunt.
Now, I'm not an angry man. OK, yes, I'm an angry man. But the pure, unadulterated release of pent-up stress which comes from using such words is an undeniable pleasure. Even Ned Flanders, of The Simpsons fame, once resorted to 'Aw hell! Diddly-ding-dong crap!' and felt a whole lot better after doing so. We all have our crosses to bear.
Swearing is not a new phenomenon, nor has it increased or decreased in popularity over the generations (or, indeed, centuries). Etymologically, cunt has its roots in Old Norse, but has branched out into various different forms, from the Spanish coño to the French con and Dutch kut. What's vital is that they all sound vile in their native tongues. You don't even need to know the meaning of the word to realise that kut sounds harsh even to the spittle-festooned ears of a Dutch speaker. The word has retained its power to shock, and that is the biggest weapon in its arsenal.
So, as long as our swear words retain the power to shock and convey strength of emotion, more fucking power to them. And that's exactly why the pub's pot-bellied Paul needs to pipe down. Only by using these words liberally, and when the occasion calls for it, can we ensure that their greatest attribute--their power to shock--remains with us. Without that, we'll all have to resort to using very, greatly and remarkably, and that's a Wodehousian world to which only I want to return.
Besides which, the ever-present scourge on society, Germaine Greer, once said cunt "is one of the few remaining words in the English language with a genuine power to shock". If that's not reason enough to swear until the fucking cows come home, then I don't know what is.