When I was a child in the fifties in East London, poor as we were, there existed a type of poverty which did not include being manner-less or rude. I believe this behaviour was adopted and drilled into us as children, just as much as it was punched into our parents as a visual and verbal means to show society that, although belonging to the lower class, we still possessed a type of homely dignity.
Certainly, my brother and I learnt extremely rapidly that any form of foul language would never be tolerated. Even in the mildest of forms. We never heard our parents or any of our elders and close family use any of the forbidden words and therefore, naturally, we silently copied their behaviour. Indeed, when people swore on the TV, it was a source of embarrassment to us all.
Even now, some half a century later, I am known as a person who does not swear a great deal; a testament to my upbringing.
But what was it they were trying to suppress? What is the basis of swearing? As I do not have space, let me cut through the minefield and offer the explanation of anger as an original intent.
Little kids are not supposed to express anger are they? What they are supposed to do is become drones like their parents. Any expression away from this central core of learning has to be suppressed.
Take any swear word or exclamation, as feeble as, damn! or blast! to the other, unfortunately, more used and, ‘dangerous’ ones and I defy you to use it in a sentence which does not have connotations of anger. It’s very difficult to be loving in a sentence when one is swearing.
And that is what my parents were trying so hard for me and my brother to avoid; showing anger. Because anger implies individuality. Maybe I’m wrong here. Perhaps I’ve got things about-faced. Perhaps I lack the intellect and knowledge to put forward a proper discussion? I don’t know really. Fuck.