Sunday, 7 February 2010

Soho and swearing

Both Soho and swearing are endlessly exciting, naughty, ridiculous and often unfairly maligned.

Considering their parallels it’s quite fitting that the card above is available in a branch of Scribbler on Wardour St, the longest street in Westminster’s delightfully seedy-yet-glam party district and arguably most fun area of central London. Chain stores of any kind are rarely centres of design excellence, originality or intellectual rigour but this one, which has 10 branches in London, is something of a rarity. It’s a card shop that sells cards which make you laugh out loud and doesn't leave you full of hate the second you cross the threshold.

When asked about the absence of the harshest of all swear words the polite assistant could not offer an explanation, but could recommend wrapping paper adorned with, as he put it, the “C word”. No, not Cameron - although many use the Tory leader as a synonym for the real missing word.

Back once again to the opening par. The key is in the adjectives. Exciting, naughty, ridiculous. Apart from funny, clever and attractive, there may not be three as complimentary words in the English language to describe a place, person or thing.

As for Soho, the usually reliable Irvine Welsh wrote in his 2002 Trainspotting sequel Porno, “It’s Soho but it could be anywhere that has no character any more.” Admittedly, this line is both brilliantly bitter and depressingly empty; the kind of thing Camus or Palahniuk would get off on, regardless of the statement’s veracity. It should also be mentioned that Welsh may not hold this view, of course, as it is part of Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson’s interior monologue.

Critics of London’s central sex shop and edit suite wonderland complain that it is both childish and silly, while accepting it is a place meant for adults. This conflict of image can be applied to swearing. There’s as much joy to be had at the silly end of curse words, as there is at the dangerous, violent end. South Park’s Terrance and Philip are great but the dark, extreme profanity uttered by Malcolm Tucker could make the weak or just timid cry in real life.

A person’s love of swearing does not necessarily mean a limited vocabulary or a failure to articulate oneself with clarity. Swearing is often just a quick way to be unequivocal. What’s wrong? It’s fucked. OK. Let’s fix it. Who’s he? He’s a prick. Is he? Let’s leave. Beyond all that, swearing may be lazy and offensive, but it’s fun. Especially when trying out new or unusual expressions. Try some out today. But not around kids. They’ll get around to it soon enough and to encourage them to swear is irresponsible and could cause a lot of trouble, especially if they’re not your children.

So bollocks to that.

*At the time of publication Clinton’s do not stock the wrapping paper.

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