THE LOWDOWN: Much ado about no F-ing
“Anything can be artiisitc except vulgarity,” my old headmaster John Hammond used to say. Sounds okay. The problem is, vulgarity has of late so relentlessly bombarded us from all sides that we have lost track of which is who.
Last Friday Adonijah phoned to enquire after my health. And on learning that I was alive and, well, not yet dead, he forwarded me a selection of Clean Jokes For Slightly Twisted Minds.
This was puzzling. Was Ado hinting that I, the Vulgar Goatman, had once again overstepped the bounds of decency?
No. A little detective work soon revealed all. Those Clean Jokes had originally been sent to Ado from a loving sister (she’s written me about her “beloved brother” Ado). And Ado, now realising that clean humour works just as well, passed on the good news to me.
So what’s this all about? In a column last week, Adonijah pushed for “adult entertainment” venues where a moderate amount of profanity such as “is normal during most adult expression” would be permitted. Mindful, perhaps, of his loving sister, he stressed: “Don’t get me wrong. I am not making a case for long tirades filled with ‘brass bowls’.”
Thin line there, Ado! Like, how many “brass bowls” per tirade would be okay?
But I was willing to cut Ado some slack. After all, in my youth at Vaucluse, cursing was an art.
And we Hoad boys spent many hours practising.
A typical tirade would go: “Yuh guava-guts, bound-navel, chigger-foot, poxy, par-toe, bow-leg, knock-knee son of a twist-mout’, fowl-treading . . . .” Some brothers could run on for five minutes without hesitation, without repetition.
Brother John even wrote a poem on the subject:
“It was said/ that a Bajan fisherman /could swear/ for fifteen minutes/ without repeating himself/.
This was no/ simplistic/ catalogue/ of four-letter words./ This was pornography/ in poetry./ You were likened/ to the green diarrhoea/ from the backside/ of a mangy fowl-hen,/ covered with nimbles./ And it got worse/ from there on/ or better, depending,/ on your point of view./
“Until your mother/ got drawn into it/ for making out/ with a monkey/ from Welchman Hall Gully,/ who was your father./ Maybe the quarrel/ then came to blows,/ and afterward/ the crowd went away/ arguing the fine points, of the verbal/ stick-licking./ Bajans always/ had a way with words”.
So, fair enough, Ado, said I. But then he blew it. For he built his case on the worst possible foundation – Chris Rock, of whom Ado is a “huge fan”.
Chris is good. But he rarely gets through three sentences without a liberal sprinkling of F-words. Indeed, I suspect it was all the “effing” Chris did
to Michael Jackson in one short piece that killed the superstar rather than any drugs. Is this your moderate amount of profanity, Ado?
More to the point, though, is it really necessary? Like Ado, I spend many hours on YouTube. And I’m big on stand-up comedy. And, yes, Ado, a lot of Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy and the foul-mouthed crew. Also, Flip Wilson (everything I can find), Jack Benny, Smothers Brothers. And the West Indian crowd, Oliver Samuels, Paul Keens, Trevor Eastmond, Fudd Straker . . . .
In my opinion, the non-cursers are just as effective. And I can share them with my family.
In fact, there’s one clip where Red Foxx appears on the Flip Wilson show. Flip insists Foxx must be clean. And he’s great.
I’m not into this adult language thing. Men think they can adjust their vocabulary when children or ladies are around. Invariably, they don’t.
The German technicians who built my digester were obviously under the impression that “s**t” was the accepted English word for “manure”. Not on my farm, I told them. And never ever in the presence of my female farm animals.
Admittedly, this column often mashes the vulgarity crease. But at least I try. As a lady in the bank told my wife last week: “Mr Hoad bad. But in a nice way, you know?” Thanks, lady!