Saturday, 13 October 2012

Fair play and foul language


I was a little longer in the boozer last night than normal, and spent most of the time behaving inappropriately with one off-duty barmaid whilst simultaneously discussing the impossibility of a full-blown, carnal love-affair with an on-duty one, citing the biggest obstacle to our future happiness as the 40-year age difference.

The off-duty one was (and still is) French, and confided in me that - though she speaks near-perfect English - she could not swear. I checked to see if she meant 'would not' instead of 'could not', but she assured me that she knew and meant what she had said.

So I spent a happy ten minutes or so teaching her some rudimentary obscenities to practice with on her fellow workers.

This girl seems to have been brought up very well, and speaks with a shy, well-modulated and quiet voice, so you can imagine the reaction when - on my instruction - she greeted the returning barmaid (yes, that one), by sweetly saying, "F*** off, you c***!", with just a the hint of a Parisian accent. Excuse my French.

Thus engaged in these innocent pastimes, the hours flew by so quickly that I had missed 'The Archers' by the time I rolled home, and our late dinner was interrupted by bereaved niece, who phoned halfway through. I was on the blower to her for a full two hours, so my dinner got too cold to eat, but the wine was still acceptable. It was gone midnight by the time we hung up on each other, but I still had some libellous emails to send before I could rest. I still have the remains of the foul headache which I woke up with, if that makes you feel any better about me.

You may remember that - about three years ago - I instigated a shooting competition amongst my gun-toting friends, and the tiny, solid silver cup which I donated to the club can be won by the contestant who hits the most overhead clays using a .410 shotgun, every October.

Before this comp. was started, many people thought that it was near impossible to hit any clays at all with a gun so small, but now they have tried, the silver trophy is fiercely fought over. The winner of this years .410 competition was an erstwhile chairman, who hit 18 out of a possible 24. This is a very high score for a light, small-calibre gun, because the 'swing' needed to keep track of a fast moving clay is very difficult to maintain compared to a heavy 12-bore.

Just before I began teaching English to the French girl, a club member came into the pub and began talking about the winner of the trophy and how he achieved his score. I had not been at the event, so it came as a surprise to learn that he had strapped a length of lead-pipe to the underside of his barrels to increase the weight and make the 'swing' a lot easier and steadier.

"He hasn't exactly broken any rules, as far as I can tell," the member said, "but it's not exactly in the spirit of the competition, is it?"

I had to remind him that - since it was me who invented this competition - I was the one who decided whether or not any rules had been broken. He asked if any had, and I replied that I didn't know yet, as I had not got around to writing any, even though the competition has been running for three years.

So at around midnight last night, I sent a group email to the club informing them that I had stripped the winner of his title (for breaching rule 7, section C13), and instructed him to relinquish the cup to the second-best shot of the day without any unseemly fuss.

This morning, I received an email reply from him which included a quote from his hero, Charlton Heston, big-gun in the NRA.

I think I have a fight on my hands.


16 comments:

  1. I'm reminded of once working with a german guy, who provided me with my entire vocabulary in that language.

    The only properly constructed sentence I ever learnt I've used before on this blog. (Look back, keep up, time is money etc etc.).

    But I also acquired a fair sprinkling of german swear words that it's satisfying to use from time to time. In return, he wanted to learn some of ours.

    Unfortunately, it seems, the F word is not nearly as offensive in the motherland. And so, in frustration one day in the admin dept, he had no hesitation in deploying it at maximum volume. The silence that descended on the assembled ladies could be cut with a knife.

    I hope your niece is OK, Tom. You too.

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    1. I am told it is almost impossible to swear in Sweden without mentioning the 'G' word - God.

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  2. You seem to lead an incredibly colourful life down there - sometimes wonder whether I am stuck in the backwoods and missing out. But then I don't fancy wasting time learning swear words in a foreign language and I can't shoot for toffee, let alone a cup - so maybe I am better off staying where I am.

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  3. I am just reminded that my first husband (who died in 1991) had been a prisoner of the Japanese during the war - on the Death Railway - and some of his fellow prisoners were Dutch who had been in Java when it was overrun. He had quite a vocabulary of Dutch swear words learned from them but had no idea what they meant. A lady who was Dutch asked him to repeat a couple of them one day - he did and she visibly paled and said - don't ever, ever repeat those again in polite company!

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    1. An Italian lady said just the same thing to me once, but I swore in Italian, not Dutch.

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  4. I was also taught to swear in Dutch, but I've never tried it in anger.

    You make me hanker for another .410. I loved my old single barrel bolt-actioned job. I couldn't hit a rabbit with it, even if the creature was chained to the floor.

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  5. I think I like him!
    that quote was perfect....
    may the best soak win !

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    1. That wasn't the quote, John, that was the last sentence in my post. Heston'e quote was, "You will have to wrest the trophy from my cold, dead hands", or similar. I responded with a quote from Lance Armstrong: "The riskiest thing you can do is get greedy". The shooter has won ALL the trophies this year, and I reminded him that Lance has had to give all his back for cheating...

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  6. I learned a few Spanish swear words when i worked in a restaurant where we had a number of Puerto Rican kitchen workers. One of the cooks, also a Puerto Rican had the night off when i got my "lesson" and asked what words i was taught. He smiled as i tried my best to lose any sort of English or American accent when i said the words, but he frowned quickly when at the one i pronounced best.

    "Don't say that," he said. "It's a very bad word," and he looked visibly upset, so i made it a point not to say it in his presence again.

    Its English equivalent isn't nice, either, but it doesn't sound as bad in Spanish to my ear, although i guess it conveys more meaning.

    I agree with how you handled the gun competition. The whole point is to see how accurate one can be with a small gun, not with a small gun loaded with extra weight to make it easier.

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    1. That's right, Megan! Can I quote you on that?

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  7. I looked up your rules about the shooting contest. Rule 517, section 38, paragraph IV clearly states:

    A silver cup shall be rewarded to any brave bar maid (on or off duty) who donates her time contemplating an affair with a 'mature' gentleman while simultaneously widening her vocabulary in said gentleman's language.

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    1. Or widening anything else, in any language.

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  8. Unfortunatley rules are looked on by most people as a challenge to be worked around.

    I like the idea of invoking the spirit of the competition but in this case one also has to admire the man's initiative. With a cheap and simple modification, breaking no rules, he has carried the cup. If I had to rule on this case, I would advise against rules as such, rather a simple modification to the competition title, the Unmodified .410 Cup and let this result stand.

    The alternative is far too ghastly to contemplate, that of shooting him, waiting for him to cool down and then wresting the cup from his hands.

    Of sporting linguistics, I humbly submit I am a master. Living in a Lusophone country the opportunity for such evilness are too hard for even the stoutest heart to resist. One could lament the world wide exposure given to English profanity by principally US entertainment media but to a sporting chap, it provides an interesting challenge. So to my English students here in Angola I could, for example tell them, 'No, you must NEVER refer to a fat lady as fat, it simply isn't done. You should politely refer to her as a 'Dragarse'. Now, repeat after me...'. When it comes to calling one's employer a 'Bishop Basher' I can console the doubting Thomas' by pointing out that Bishop is a highly respectful ecclesiastical title.

    A man is deservéd of respect if he has the courage to admit that he can only converse in one or two languages but can order a beer and swear in ten.

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    1. Well said, Hippo - wise words indeed. 'In vino, bloody veritas', as they say in Australia. Essex swearers are eclipsed only by Antipodeans, in my experience.

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