My kids are 8 and 10 and they are in love with learning. They are learning maths and grammar and geography and all the facts from the Guinness Book of Records, but the thing they are most excited to learn about is The Swears.
They get this love of The Swears from me. I bloody love swearing. But as a mum, I have to try and make sure that they learn to use these words appropriately.
Swearwords are a bit like wild animals. They are all exciting and colourful in their own way, but each of them has evolved for its own unique habitat. Some of them are a little bit rarer and – frankly – more dangerous than others.
So you’ve got your common or garden swears. Look into your average suburban garden and you’re probably going to see a couple of craps at your bird feeder. At dusk, there might be a bugger sniffing around your bins.
Then you’ve got the ones that are at once familiar and exotic. They are in all the picture books, but if you wanted to see them in real life, you'd have to go to a safari park or on an organised package holiday. If you went on a swearing safari in the Vulgar National Park, you’d be really disappointed if you didn’t see a bastard, arse, fuck, shit and a bollocks roaming the grasslands. You'd expect to get a decent picture of a wanker from your stripey landrover, without having to have a special lens. If you're really lucky, you'll see a cocksucker prowling in the bush. But your friends won't be that impressed with your picture.
Then we have the next category… the ones that only the really adventurous can see. These are the swears that would really scare the crap out of you if you encounter in the wild. They really get the heart racing; Steve Backshall's wet dream. He is crouching in the bushes: "These animals could tear out my spleen, if they catch my scent. It’s very rare to see a motherfucker and a cunt together in the wild."
My absolute favourite swears are the freaky ones, the duck-billed platypuses of the linguistic world. All you do is take a profanity and just shunt it into another word: Cockwomble, arsebasket, pissflaps, cuntmajor. Fun to do, fun to say, fun to hear. I love them.
Language is brilliant, words can have real impact. I hope that my children will grow up to use language in creative ways. I want that to include swearing, because it is fun. But we'll start with some gentle garden bird-spotting before we get out the big guns.