Can’t Swear – Won’t Swear, FFS!


First of all, this is not some glib, and odiously predictable, article about how terrible I think it is to swear regularly; droning on about other people’s lack of imagination, limited vocabulary, and inability to state precisely what they mean.  Quite the opposite, in fact.

Anyone who knows me, will know that I can’t swear.  Not that I don’t swear through choice, having adopted the moral high ground, or that I won’t swear, out of politeness or wishing to appear less aggressive.  Coming, as I do, from Glasgow, this puts me in a relative minority, and is very much out of step with most people I meet, from teenagers to lawyers, priests to policemen, and rich and poor alike.  In Glasgow, swearing is like breathing.  The punctuation, emphasis, humour, aggression and self effacement that swearing can afford an individual is fully embraced here.  Not only is it commonplace, but it can be raised to high art, in the form of living poetry.  This is a town given to banter, like Dublin, and cursing is not restricted to any particular time of day, or group of individuals.  Conversely Glasgow is a town where the use of profanity is redundant, when the need to be aggressive or threatening arises.  Usually this is the point where voices are lowered, gazes are fixed and the swearing stops.  This is the point to become concerned, and find the nearest exit.  We are famous for “effing and jeffing”.  Look at the consummate swearers we have given the world.  Billy Connolly built an entire career out of it, and the two Scots heavies in Armando Ianucci’s “The Thick of It” and Oscar nominated “In The Loop” are as fantastic examples of the art as I have seen.  “Come the fuck in, or fuck the fuck off” being a particularly precise and effective memorable quote.  Glasgow without swearing would be weird.  Glasgow without swearing would frankly be a scarier place.

So what is my problem?  Am I shy, do I lack invention, am I too self conscious?  Maybe I am, because I know that my delivery would lack conviction.  I don’t swear, because I’m rubbish at it, and it would sound about as convincing as Jeremy Clarkson vowing to become a vegetarian and happily drive a Prius through France in open toed sandals.

There you have it then.  I confess to having a bit of a hang-up about my inability to swear.  Not being able to swear therefore means that I am the one with the lack of vocabulary; having to use 20 words, when a swiftly applied profanity would suffice.

So what has all this to do with recruitment?  Absolutely nothing, other than the fact that effective communication in all forms, is central to what we all do.  We mustn’t take it for granted, and we should always be working on our deficiencies.  If you ever hear me swearing in future, you’ll know my self-help tapes are working.

PS. It should be noted that this is a personal blog (where I don’t need to be professional all the bleedin’ time)

PPS. My favourite Malcolm Tucker quotes in “The Thick of It”

• Responding to knock at his door: “Come the fuck in or fuck the fuck off.”

• Tucker’s Law (out-take from the Spinners & Losers special): “If some cunt can fuck something up, that cunt will pick the worst possible time to fucking fuck it up cause that cunt’s a cunt.”

• Moaning about minister on the phone: “He’s about as much use as a marzipan dildo.”

• To a pair of rival advisors: “Laurel and fucking Hardy! Glad you could join us. Did you manage to get that piano up the stairs OK?”

• Dressing down MP, Geoff Holhurst: “You’re so back-bench, you’ve actually fucking fallen off. You’re out by the fucking bins where I put you.”

• Commenting on Ben Swain’s disastrous Newsnight appearance:“All these hands all over the place! You were like a sweaty octopus trying to unhook a bra.”

• Bollocking a communications department employee: “How much fucking shit is there on the menu and what fucking flavour is it?”

• Advising minister Hugh Abbot to keep up with the zeitgeist:“You’ve got 24 hours to sort out your policy on EastEnders, right? Or you’re for the halal butchers.”

• Note passed to assistant Jamie during meeting with blue-sky thinker Julius Nicholson: “Please could you take this note, ram it up his hairy inbox and pin it to his fucking prostate.”

• Admonishing junior adviser Ollie Reeder to respect government property: “Feet off the furniture you Oxbridge twat, you’re not on a punt now.”

[youtube height=”auto” width=”640″][/youtube]


Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

Smash & Trash

If you really want my opinion on any given topic (mainly recruitment), you'll almost certainly find it here.

Please browse and search my blogs at will.

Blog Categories