Sunday 20 December 2009

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Language – Part 2

© John Sawyer – December 2009

“They delivered the windows to the building site next door today, Dad. They couldn’t have been heavy, just one bloke on his own.”


“Did I already tell you? … No I didn’t… Anyway he gets nearly all of them off and then drops one and breaks the glass. I only heard it through the wall, but he then proceeded to shout FU.., err you know, over and over, in at least fifteen or twenty different ways. He was pretty pissed off. I wouldn’t believe you could say it in so many ways.”

“Geeze, Sue, tell me about it. That reminds me of the day I was walking past the place at the end of our lane. You know the two storey concrete joint with the roller doors? Anyway I suddenly notice the roller door starts to bulge out. The bloke had jumped in his SUV to go to work and somehow, he’d let it roll slowly backwards into the doors. After a very brief pause the bloke lets out a long, loud, extended play Fu…” Jack looks at his eight year old grandson next to him and thinks better of it. “… err the F-word.” Sue looks into the rear view mirror and raises her eyes.

“Anyway, that night, in the car, we’re driving somewhere with the twins in the back and I tell Wendy the story and I say the word, you know outright. No euphemisms, just innocently as you would. Anyway, next thing I know, the two kids are chanting the word and not just chanting. Playing with it, exploring all the ways that it can be said, clapping their hands in time. Drawing it out, clipping it, testing how it would sound with different letters emphasised.”

“What do you do in that situation? Wendy sits there simultaneously smirking and glaring, trying not to laugh outright while I sit there, looking straight ahead and feeling embarrassed. How do you say to a kid? Don’t use the word I just used. It would be hypocritical wouldn’t it? Eventually I said: We’ve had enough of that now. Who wants to play I spy? I’ll go first… I spy with my little eye something the colour of …”

Sue and Jack laugh briefly and Nick pipes up: “Did Jan and me say fuck over and over, Grandpa?”

“Yes you did, Nick and don’t …” Jack stops mid-sentence. What can you do?


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