Friday, April 9, 2010


Look away now if you’re easily offended.

I’ve just been reading Alright Tit and it made me think about the cussing I’ve known.

A little while ago,
Some mothers do ave em
made me laugh with tales of her potty mouth experience. Have a read … howl with laughter and squirm with embarrassment for her.

We've all been there.

I used to call them "driving words" in front of the children because my bad language was mainly heard when we were in the car. I carefully explained that sometimes Mummy needed to use bad words but you can only use them when you are driving. When you are grown up and you can drive blah, blah... you get it.

Some friends had the driving word rule too. They were driving to the West Country for a family holiday. Somewhere around Honiton, there was a humungous traffic jam and someone decided to create new traffic rules. My hot and bothered friend expressed the opinion that the perpetrator’s parents were unlikely to have been married. They looked guiltily at the back seat but the children were engrossed in the Thomas the Tank Engine tape. Phew. Eventually they got to their destination in the heat of the day with the windows wound down. Someone cut in front as they drove into the car park. Their four year old son was quick off the mark and hollered “BASTARD” at the holidaymakers.

I thought I had it nailed on the driving word front. Felt really proud of myself. It all unravelled horribly when I took Madette and Junior Mad to visit my mother. We had a truly awful journey culminating in a puncture on the M4. It required the full quota of driving words. They were so impressed when we got there that they spilled out of the car full of excitement, dead keen to tell their grandmother about the vicissitudes of the journey. Junior Mad explained that Mummy had used all sorts of driving words in many and varied combinations. She asked them WHAT were driving words. Madette, alert to the fact that this might need editing said "Oh things like bloody and bugger, Nain" but Junior Mad added "And fuck". We had a great day. My mother tore my ear off.

In 1991, an interesting combination of circumstances brought a boy from Czechoslovakia to stay. He was a monster; more of that another time. At the time, the wonderful Juno was our nanny. It was a hot summer’s afternoon and we were going to Sport’s Day at school. Czech-monster-boy had already had a run in with Juno when he refused to get into appropriate summer clothes and had sulked because we weren’t going to let him sit in front of the television all afternoon. Everyone was loading stuff into the car. CMB stomped out of the front door and slammed it behind him. Locking my house keys and car keys indoors. I quickly discovered that my children would have made good apprentices for Fagin and we broke in after about half an hour. CMB was vile all afternoon, spitting out the picnic on the lawn. By the time we got home, I was frazzled beyond. Madette and Junior Mad went to play and Juno took CMB off for a little pep talk. As I unpacked the remains of the picnic, CMB appeared by my side. “I’m sorry Mrs Mad”. “That’s alright, CMB”. “No, Mrs Mad, I’m a total fucking prat”.

So back to my mother. Dad swore like punctuation. Mainly “bloody hell”. If it was bad, “Duw, bloody hell”. Mam didn’t really do the swearing thing and I got a sharp slap if I indulged. Bad language on television had her shooting across the room to hit the off button. When I was about twelve, someone had graffitied “Fuck” on a bridge near home. I’m not sure if it was a statement or a command, but she insisted that I cross the road and not look at it. Sometime in the mid 1990s, we were visited by the Jehovah’s Witnesses when she was staying with us. The JW had waylaid one of the household at the front door and would not leave, despite pleas of belonging to another faith, lack of interest etc. By this time, my mother was everyone’s idea of a grandmother : eightyish, white curls, apple cheeked and rather round. She trotted to the door, took in the “Watch Tower” clutched in the JW’s paw and bellowed “BUGGER OFF”. The JW fled, leaving an umbrella abandoned in the porch. We left it there for a few days in case they felt brave enough to sneak back up the drive to collect it. Fifteen years on, it’s still in my umbrella stand. Clearly, hell’s grandma was sufficient deterrent.

And if you’re wondering about the title … the fabulous Flanders and Swann wrote a song that starts “Ma’s out, Pa’s out, Lets talk rude: Pee Po, Belly, Bum, Drawers”.


  1. LOL! To this day, I don't know where my son learned the words "Damn it". But at 2 years old he knew how to use it! Unfortunately he decided to try it at bath time while being babysat by the in-laws! We got a phone call. I'm wondering if Grandpa used it as a car word...
    Great story!

  2. The good old days of proper swearing, eh ?? Nowadays because the same words are just part of normal conversation, for some anyway, they have no impact, so what do we use instead ?

    "Well I go to the foot of our stairs" is an option I suppose............!

  3. Ah now I know why the library computer kept sensoring your blog when I tried to read it earlier today!


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