Monday, 25 June 2012

See You Next Tuesday

I noted with admiration that Ian Brown continues to display a knack for using the correct swear words at the correct time. At the recent Stone Roses gig in Amsterdam, drummer Reni decided that he was a bit pooped and couldn’t be arsed playing on a couple more tunes for his adoring crowd.

Brown was moved to remark that his fellow musician was therefore a ‘cunt.’

It’s a tricky word, cunt. It’s still a real opinion splitter. Lots of people don’t like ‘cunt’. It can be a very vicious sounding word. It’s got the same hard ‘u’ as fuck and the same amount of letters, but the ‘t’ at the end seems to give it added venom.

I think it’s a great word. In a world where eff-you-cee-kay is fairly commonplace and can be spotted in films with a 12 certificate, it’s nice to have a reassuringly offensive word that can be relied upon to do some damage.

It should go the same way as ‘bugger’, losing the original Middle English definition to become something people call each other when nice words just won’t work.

The Oxford English Dictionary has seen fit to legitimise its use, simply stating that a cunt is ‘an unpleasant or stupid person.’

In the last few years I’ve seen it being used in a slightly watered down way, to become an almost affectionate way of describing someone. People will shrug their shoulders and say,

“Well, he can be a bit of a cunt, but he’s alright most of the time.’

Adding words or letters seems to have a dampening effect too, with titles such as ‘cunty-bollocks’ and ‘cunt-chops’ being awarded to people who’ve transgressed in a workplace or social setting.

It’s only when the word is used with a finger jab or the addition of the words ‘right’ or ‘proper’ that it seems to retain its potency.

I’m all for swearing. In the right place and at the right time, it’s a great way to add emphasis or feeling to a sentence or statement.

It’s not big or clever to only be able to communicate through the art of the eff and jeff, but nor do I see it - as some do - as instant confirmation that the speaker is inarticulate. Some of the greatest comedians in history have used expletives to amplify their act, to great effect. Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and Bill Hicks have spoken eloquently on the subject, littering their monologues with words that dockers didn’t even know existed.

Chris Rock wouldn’t have an act if he didn’t swear so brilliantly.

“I love my kids, man!!!!”

“You’re supposed to, you low-expectation-having-motherfucker!!!”

When I joined the army, I’d come from a background where there was no swearing in the house. The strongest word we were allowed to use was ‘flipping’. ‘Bloody’ was beyond the pale and - until I got to secondary school - I thought the C word was ‘Cheggers’ (not a million miles away, it has to be said).

If there could be such a thing, the army was a Swearing School of Excellence where I met people who could: construct sentences comprising only of swear words; invent their own; or break up individual words, just so they could jam another ‘fuck’ in there. Words like ‘abso-fucking-lutely’ and ‘encylo-fucking-pedia’ entered my vocabulary.

When I left and became a father, a period of adjustment was required. I realised this when my 2 year old son was helping his gran do a jigsaw. A failure to find the right piece caused him to say, in exasperation, ‘Fucking hell!’ (It was in context, I might add).

The industrial language was left behind, but what could I replace it with? I ended up on a 40s throwback gig, using words like ‘blimey’, ‘crikey’ and ‘jeepers’, to replace their more colourful cousins. They were alright. They didn’t pack the same power, though and made me sound like a Mancunian George Formby, but they stopped my mum giving me dirty looks and provided a sticking plaster.

Funnily enough, my favourite swear word is of the same vintage. It isn’t really that offensive, but it holds a very dear place in my heart. Once again, referring to the OED enlightens us to its meaning: ‘An objectionable, unpleasant or reprehensible person.’

The word? ‘Rotter’ - delivered with startling beauty on December the 1st 1976, at 6.15pm by Steve Jones. All the damage had been done to Bill Grundy’s career already, when he told Steve Jones he still had another five seconds to say something outrageous. He used a couple of the more obvious words, but then ended with a flourish, calling Grundy, ‘A fuckin’ rotter.’

It still makes me laugh every time I see it. The Sex Pistols were trying to be so ‘up-to-the-minute’, but there was Jones in his moment of glory, using abusive terms straight from The Beano.

I’m not saying that we should go out of our way to swear all the time, but in the world we currently inhabit, there should always be recourse to express exactly how you feel…


  1. Ace, loved the final picture of a well known cunt.

    I drove to Scarbourough last night to pick up my new drum kit. The guy selling them had been a bit short in his replies to me on ebay so I didn't know what to expect. On arrival he shook my hand at the door and invited me in, ok up to now. I could see the electronic kit all folded up and ready to go, I said "great" and counted his money out. As I was doing so he said "do you want me to show you how to set it up?"
    "I think I'll be ok you know, I have a long drive back and I could do with getting off" I politely replied, noticing that all the time I was speaking he was setting the kit up, extending the stands and tightening wing-nuts and the like.
    I didn't know what to say so I thought I'll engage him in light banter and let him get the setting up out of his system.
    "so, your a drummer, are you in a band?"
    "Yeah, three."
    "How come you're selling your drums?"
    "This is the TD-9KX, I've got the TD-20KX in the studio" he said, thumbing in the direction of the back of the house.
    "Oh you have your own studio?"
    "Yeah, I've got a 11 piece Mapex Kit that I've customised with Roland pressure triggers and the TD-20KX brain with a mixture of digital and brass B20 Turkish cymbals" (still thumbing)
    "Right," I said, "cool" (I'm mentally twiddling thumbs at this point)
    "Do you want to see 'em?" he said, already following his own thumb, I followed out through his kitchen to a large double garage size building...
    "There are cameras on all four sides of the building, double entry doors, the walls have an 18" cavity that's filled with sand and when I'm at my house in France if someone so much as breathes on these doors I can see them with my iPhone"
    “Right, cool” I said for the second time as we entered what can only be described as the most overly spec’d home recording studio I have every seen, including on telly and the internet and everything.
    He started telling me all about the gear that was in there, his back to back TOPAZ mixing desks and the £150 000 worth of software on his PC (which had a 60 inch LG screen on the wall so he could see it over his frankly appallingly abundant drum kit.).
    There were rare guitars and modern Malmsteen type horrid axes all over the walls and on stands around his centre-piece kit. There were bass guitars, keyboards, sequencers, effects racks, a fucking fitted kitchen which had his PA speakers on either side which could have serviced The Who when they were down the Road in Leeds playing Live that time.
    The guy hasn’t asked me one fucking question about what I do, which is fine, but as I’m thinking this he gets behind this huge drum-kit and just to reiterate, I have never been in the presence of one so unbelievably enormous, this would have that deaf woman percussionist off the telly tripping over stuff and still finding new drums to hit deep into the night, he starts to play.

    I say play.

    He could possibly go down as ‘the worst drummer who thinks he’s ace ever’ in my books. I can only liken the rhythm he was producing to that of the drummers in a marching band, snares drums, the guys with the 2 clashing cymbals and the bloke with the Big Bass Drum all simultaneously tripping on the top stair of, say, somewhere with loads of fucking stairs and cascading down with blood and broken bones and stuff. And the stairs were made of tambourines (which is what tripped ‘em up in the first place).
    All this while he had that pouting, seriously cool face on looking directly at me…”

    And to get to my point Charlie; as I was staring back at him, all I could think of was “Cunt”.

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  3. Phil,

    What a brilliant response, mate.

    My heart bleeds when I think about your ordeal.

    Being cornered by someone of the see you next tuesday fraternity is an horrific experience.

    When they realise they have a captive audience and can release their full ammo belt of cuntishness, you can only resort to court-approved violence to escape the situation!!!!!!!