neil at TYPOG.CO.UK
Fri Apr 7 08:40:29 UTC 2006
Although the following may be of interest from the censorship/euphemism
angle, what struck me was the new-to-me 'quiched out' -- presumably ex the
expression 'Real men don't eat quiche'.
Is this an import from the US?
"Never mind the bollards
Friday March 24, 2006
Coming up with a book title is something best done the sober side of several
bottles of wine. If only we'd known, our little tourism guide would have
happily remained Drive-By Britain. Instead, my co-authors and I ended up
plumping for Bollocks to Alton Towers. We laughed out loud at it, but thanks
to the pleasant effects of the grenache, we'd have laughed out loud at the
wallpaper by that point.
The real depth of our stupidity wasn't apparent until we started the round
of radio and TV interviews. "Obviously, we can't say the title on air"
sounded as familiar as "hello" after the nth time. The spoken word doesn't
It's nearly 30 years since John Mortimer successfully defended a Nottingham
record shop owner against an obscenity charge levelled at his Never Mind the
Bollocks window display, but broadcasters do still get awfully sweaty when
it comes to talking balls.
Some are less uptight than others. Radio Four - no problem. You can bollocks
your way blithely through the Today programme. Radio Two - no way. Steve
Wright became the first of many DJs to re-christen the book Bollards To
BBC Radio Scotland, with good Scots pragmatism, permitted one "bollocks" per
interview. BBC Radio York had a pre-recorded "bo-" and "-cks" peeping out of
either end of a zzrit-crash-doink sound effect, which they played on cue
with alarming accuracy. BBC Three Counties Radio planned to try the same
trick, but the DJ quiched out after spending five baffled minutes trawling
through his FX collection, only to find all his noises gone, replaced
anonymously and inexplicably with punchlines from Will and Grace.
Elsewhere on the airwaves, the part of Bollocks was taken by its
understudies Buzzcocks, Cobblers, Pillocks and Beep Beep. BBC Radio Kent
opted for the truly odd Buttons To Alton Towers. The most visible rabbit in
the headlights, by some stretch, was ITV comfort zone This Morning. Citing
its Orwellian "compliance guidelines", it wouldn't even mention Alton
Towers. A production assistant was let loose on the dust jacket with masking
tape and, when it appeared on screen, we'd apparently written a book called
The depressing logic behind this attitude (vouchsafed to us by an
embarrassed BBC producer) is demographic: the more likely your audience is
to swear casually itself, the more likely it is to ring up and bollock
Auntie for not knowing better.
This is a shame. Broadcasters should have the balls to say "bollocks". It's
a jaunty, tangibly satisfying word with a rich history: from John Wycliffe's
Bible to cabinet ministers' pronouncements to (improbably) The Flintstones.
We had another couple of bottles of wine recently, to celebrate being
commissioned to write a sequel. And we so nearly settled on the
promo-friendly Never Mind The Turnstiles. It seemed we'd learned. Instead,
we ordered some more wine, like the bollocks we are. Far From the Sodding
Crowd should be out next year. "
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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