Maybe it's with rose tinted glasses that I remember my youth, but swearing was a big deal! I can recall the one and only time I heard my Grandad say sh*t. He was an east ender who worked in the docks his whole life, but who wouldn't have dreamed of swearing in front of his family. My peers and I spent many a hilarious night, illicitly clustered around the dictionary, looking up every and any swear word that would send us into paroxysms of laughter.
The odd curse in a letter written to the editor of a newspaper that started with 'Dear Sir,' usually from Mr Miffed of Basingstoke, complaining about a neighbours Leylandii blocking the light from his patio and ruining enjoyment of his fondue, was always delivered gently. How I miss that rather sedate use of language that nudged our conscience and caused my parents to chortle from behind raised newssheets.
My world is different. Daily, I am faced with naked aggression and swearing of pulse raising proportions. Only yesterday, I inadvertently waited behind a tractor and trailer who failed to drive through a green traffic light and it went red again. Meaning the person in the car behind me had to wait a maximum of three minutes longer than she deemed fair. The response, from said lady in silver car, was incredible. With her middle finger jutting through her open window, she called me a variety of unprintable, often unpronounceable names. With eyes narrowed and her face screwed into something resembling tripe, she was not angry, she was FURIOUS. I was genuinely afraid, but not as afraid as the two small toddlers clinging to each other on her back seat, whose repertoire was enhanced with words they can only now utter at an inter-pub darts match, without too much eyebrow raising. My question to her would be 'what do you say or do when something really bad happens?' I dread to think.
David Cameron went on holiday at a time of national need, should he have gone? I would say, not. But the outpouring of vitriol towards Dave the Ditherer has been unparalleled. I read one comment, 'How dare he? I'd f****** string 'im up!' I had to double check we were both referring to the same story, the one where the PM had abandoned post and jetted off to Ibiza for a few days and not a report on child killers.
People get angry and often rightly so, the recent horror on our streets in the name of faith and politics is a case in point, the public expressed their outrage in the way they thought best. But, if the same outpouring is applied when driving a car, shopping in a supermarket or on any High street at chucking out time, where will it all end?
Now, I am not some censorial octogenarian who tuts at progress, far from it and I have been known to utter the odd expletive. I embrace and encourage personal and political freedoms that only decades ago would have been unthinkable, but I believe that anger and swearing are powerful tools when used correctly, if bandied about like confetti, their impact is lessened. In truth, I hanker for the days when swearing was the exception and aggression was something that didn't creep into my world of Saturday night telly, homework and fish fingers. I hear it from my own sons, language that makes me blush and my question is this, Does anyone know where I can get some of those rose tinted glasses from? I rather like the way world looked when I was wearing them.