Monday, 29 September 2008

In which I turn into Mary Whitehouse



We are in the car. A jaunty reggae-lite tune comes on the radio. It's everywhere at the moment, a cheerful, summery ear worm. The boys start to jig along in the back. Suddenly, the CFO's hand snakes out and switches the station. We are plunged into dirge-like French wailing.



"Why did you do that?" I ask. "I like that tune. Ooooh rayon de soleeeeiiiil"



"Have you listened to the lyrics?" he hisses.



"No - why?"



"My hand on your little arse*?"



".."



"Trying to find the way?"



"Oh"



"In the flowers of your garden?"



Filth! Filth I tell you! Apparently they say fuck on Eastenders too now. That's it. I'm going to live in a survivalist commune in the Ardennes where we all dress like sixteenth century religious nutters, stockpile guns and have really elaborate facial hair.





*Cul is ruder than "arse" though. Comparative swearing is a fine art isn't it? I got into terrible trouble from the CFO once for calling him a connard, which I always assumed is something like bastard. Clearly not. Also "ta gueule" (a sort of "shut up") is way ruder than it should be on the face of it. I know the kids are not allowed to say "dégueulasse" instead of dégoutant (disgusting) and ought, apparently, not to say "ça pue" (it stinks) but I can't conjure up any English equivalent. I've pretty much given up on stopping Lashes saying "merde" and I heard one of his most well-behaved contemporaries telling his mum something was "chiant" (means a bummer, or annoying, sort of, but derived from verb 'to shit') and not getting told off. Eh? The CFO inadvertently invents his own English swear words, like shite-os, jaysuus, bollacks, fuackass. Maybe I should do the same in French. Cultrou. Putainouze. Zacouilles.

12 comments:

katyboo1 said...

Tilly used to really like Gwen Stefani. She liked that one where she goes 'This Shit is Bananas' etc,etc. Only on the versions we saw all the swearing had been beeped out, which is how come I ended up buying the album for her for Christmas thinking it was fine and then several weeks later listening to her reel off a barrage of filth in a semi tuneful Gwen pastiche. Damage done.

My favourite was when Tallulah had a thing about the Black Eyed Peas. Nothing quite like seeing a cherubic three year old gyrating round the living room saying: 'My Humps, My Humps, My Lovely Lady Lumps, Check it out!'

zoe said...

Criminy - you should hear my three swearing at each other when I'm upstairs; it's rather impressive: connasse - putain - va-te-faire chier - oh, the delight of the French lingo.

BUT! They don't know how to swear in English. Perfectly clean mouths when speaking in English.

parisgirl said...

La Fille's grown-up sister bought her a book called "Caca Boudin" and she now goes around repeating this endlessly. I am presuming that saying "Sausage Poo" is not overly rude. However, the book ends with the word "prout" (fart). La Fille has her own word for this "croup" a sort of verlan which means she can shout it as much as she likes and only we know what she is saying.

Anonymous said...

I love that song! By the time I realized it was this jaunty tune about having a morning erection, and looking for a way to take care of it, it was too late. Already imprinted on my feeble brain.

Pretty Jane said...

Wow. Here in the American South, our biggest concern is keeping our kids from learning racial epithets. I suspect they could swear with wild abandon and no one would notice, but let out an ethnic slur and you're branded. But only by some, I suppose, now that I think about it...

Ah, to live the bilingual lifestyle. You make it sound so...CONTINENTAL.

La Belette Rouge said...

Back in the old days when I was a young-in I loved the songs most with the shocking language. I would always sing those bits extra loud. The forbidden is always more delightful.

Are you serious about Eastenders? I would hate to hear Peggy Mitchell drop the F-bomb!;-)

Mr Farty said...

Little Miss Farty brought her French flatmate round a couple of years ago and I greeted her with the only colloquial French I (thought I)knew: "Salut Salope!" After she turned bright red I discovered that it doesn't mean "Hello gorgeous" after all. Comme ci comme ça.

Persephone said...

Funny this should come up. The TV movie with Julie Walters playing Mary Whitehouse taking on the BBC (Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story was just on Canadian TV last night. (It was a rather sympathetic portrayal of Mrs Whitehouse; and someone didn't like Sir Hugh Carleton Greene, the then head of the BBC at all.)

The thing about filthy lyrics is that they mercifully fly over young kids' heads (and if they don't, there's something seriously wrong...). The real problem is keeping them from singing them out loud. In the playground. At church. During Gran's birthday dinner.

Both my daughters were tiny Beatles fans from the get-go. I remember having coffee with a fellow-mum and remarking that their discovery of the Beatles meant a whole new re-discovery for me: "Most of the Beatles' songs are about sex," I explained, wonderingly. "You've just worked that out?" was her incredulous response. Well, yeah (yeah-yeah). No one said I was quick on the uptake. I'm the person who didn't know what the Kinks' "Lola" was about for years. And I'll never forget the day that I worked out that "Going Down" by the Stone Roses is about oral sex. (Surely the title was a bit of a give-away?) And it's such a lovely, lyrical song. Probably the prettiest song about cunninlingus ever...

Nikki said...

Haaaaa.... my 2yo loves Amy Winehouse-- I love to listen to her sing along with 'Rehab'.... "No, no, nooooooo". I am so, so wrong. And I FINALLY recently purged my Ipod of some of the more objectionable fare, as I am fond of hitting shuffle and letting the songs play as they may. Hopefully I did it before she was able to store anything TOO filthy in her little steel-trap mind.

Jaywalker said...

Mr F - Please tell me this isn't true.

Belette - apparently! So the Space Cadette tells me. Appalling. I am pursing my lips in disapproving Oliver James fashion.

Persephone - Filth is such a good word. Filth!

Nikki - for a while the only acceptable car song for the boys was Firestarter. I had to ride with earplugs.

Mm, swearing small children. I shouldn't find it funny but I do. Just, you know, shoot me or something.

Completely Alienne said...

zoykrBefore they became teenagers and got all superior with their indie music, my two used to happily accept everything we played in the car and sing along. I'll never forget my father in law's face as he worked out the lyrics they were happily singing (aged 6 and 4) to Freaker's Ball by Dr Hook.

YOu're right, filth is such a wonderful word.

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