Two Old Codgers

How the World strikes us

It must be over fifty years since Flanders and Swann wrote a song which they sang on the wireless (That’s what we called the radio in those days)

Flanders and swann
Ma's out, Pa's out, Let's talk rude!
Pee Po Belly Bum Drawers.
Dance round the garden in the nude,
Pee Po Belly Bum Drawers.
Let's write rude words all down our street,
Stick out our tongues at the people we meet,
Let's have an intellectual treat for
Pee Po Belly Bum Drawers.

Most grown ups were amused and kids just loved singing words that were, to say the least, frowned upon. Someone must have objected because the BBC banned it from the air waves.

On BBC TV in 1953 Sir Gerald Kelly described a Rembrandt portrait as “A bloody fine painting” The next day it was headline news in the Daily Express where they primly censored him, saying “Sir Gerald brings honour neither to his position nor to himself by descending to the use of vulgar expletives.”

As we all know, things change and it now seems a far cry from those verbally
innocent days. You might swear in the barracks or the factory but in polite society, not in front of the womenfolk.

In 1963 my son was born in the maternity home. When I visited I got to know John whose wife was in the next bed. John had a car and used to drive me home after visiting hours. One day as we got in the car he said “Women! What can you do? She only wants to call our son Michael” I said thought that was an OK name. “Not when your surname is Hunt!” He exclaimed. In 1963 he could find no way of explaining to his wife.

These days, paradoxically, swearing and explicit language is commonplace in the
streets and on radio and television but at the same time it is all too easy to be pilloried for expressing your views or opinions. If you tell of Jim and Harry walking down the street and Jim says to Harry “If you can guess how many doughnuts I have in this bag, you can have them both” OK, no trouble there but change the names to Paddy and Mick and put it on social media - then you had better watch out! Members of that amorphous, voluntary organisation ‘The PC police’ will jump all over you. They probably won’t be Irish, they are more likely to laugh but you will be accused of anything from racial discrimination to hate mail. They might even have me for using a stereotypical image.

I once read that you cannot
give offence, you can only take offence but by heck, the takers seem to be everywhere. I have this morning read of a woman in Perth, Australia who has taken offence to such an extent that she has taken her neighbour to court for cooking meat on her barbecue. Apparently she is a vegan and is no longer able to use her backyard because of the smell of cooking meat.

I can’t think I am a member of a minority group, unless ‘grumpy’, ‘idiotic’ or ‘boring’ qualify but I have no objection to others having views or beliefs that are different to mine. They may believe that the Earth is flat, human beings shouldn’t eat meat, angling is cruel, Moon landings were fake and a host of other minority views. Follow your beliefs by all means but don’t hound me to join you. I don’t object to you being a vegan but I do resent you standing in front of the butchers shop trying to prevent me from buying meat.


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