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Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Well, should we eff and blind or not?

"What we never expect always happens," said Disraeli.

Having been known for years as Drayton effing Bird because of my foul language, I am amused to be asked by Ian Denny whether people should use words like f**king or fucking (take your pick; you know what it is with or without the asterisks) in blogs.

I think "sticks and stones may hurt your bones but words can never hurt you" - or at any rate, not words like that. I suspect being told you're a half-witted insensitive buffoon* will do a better job there.

I also think a blog is above all personal; if you can't express yourself as you wish there, where can you? Nobody is forced to read. Then again, there is the question of why you are writing a blog. Many - perhaps most - do so for commercial purposes. I do it for fun - that's it. If I were aiming it to attract a certain type of client, I would moderate the language perhaps.

Come to think of it, since business thrives or fails largely on the basis of how well you get on with those you work with, maybe a blog could be a way of filtering out the unwanted - or encouraging the right kind of associates.

But that word - in fact many words - seem to be seen in quite different ways, depending on the context, the person or the culture. An Irish friend uses "focking" all the time - even in meetings with very straight-laced business people. I try to restrain myself. Maybe I'm getting old and staid.

* On the subject of insults, Dr. Johnson was once asked to coin his idea of the perfect one. He came up with "Sir, your mother, under pretence of keeping a brothel, is a receiver of stolen goods."

This in turn reminds me of one of my favourite cartoons which is hanging in my house in Somerset - I say "my" house though I am currently embroiled in an absurdly - and needlessly - expensive divorce, after which I will get it back.

Anyhow, I think it's a Rowlandson, dating back about 200 years, with the title "Politeness".

A man has burst into a room to discover a couple frolicking in bed.

He says: "Sir, are you aware you are in bed with my wife?."

The man in the bed replies: "A thousand pardons, Sir. She shall be with you in the course of an instant."

For me an exchange like that makes life worth while.

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