The F word can be an appalling affront to delicate ears, or a powerful weapon when used in the right context. It can also betray acute sloppiness. Mix that with the hubris of David Drumm and John Bowe and you can see how their narcissistic conniving felt so normal to them. Their phone conversations were so sloppy, careless and casual that they dropped the F Bomb about every third word, which is not unusual, but highly inappropriate for men in responsible positions.
The use of the F `Bomb was not a total shock. We had been pre-conditioned somewhat by Paul Gogarty. In December 2009 in The Dail, Gogarty responded to heckles from Emmet Stagg, with this outburst, “With all due respect, in the most unparliamentary language..F..k you.Deputy Stagg. F..k you.”
The F word is one of the few words that can be a verb, adjective, command, exclamation, noun and pronoun. I like to think that in Ireland we have stretched it a bit further by deploying it as an additive to make strong words more emphatic, while avoiding the taint of crudeness.
A good example would be absolutely.
Stick in the F word, Irish style and now you have “abso-f…ing-lutely”a really emphatic declaration.
When Paul Gogarty dropped the F bomb on Emmet Stagg, it was not the kind of thing one expected to hear in The Dail, but it transpires that the word may have had its origins close to home. One urban legend has it that the word f..k came from Irish law. If a couple were caught committing adultery they would be punished “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, In the Nude,” with “F…..ING” written on the stocks above them, to denote the crime they had committed.
Just in case this ancient law might have slipped unnoticed into our constitution, it would be no harm to clarify the situation and this is probably a job for steamy sex writer and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter. He should pay close attention to the kind of punishments they had for adultery .
The humiliation of being put in the stocks was the most feared punishment in the distant past. Imagine what unconfined joy there would be if we could bring back the stocks today for all those bankers, politicians, liars, thieves and perjurers, who have wrecked our country by having Unlawful Carnal Knowledge of poor Kathleen Ni Houlihan.
And even as they were having their evil way with Kathleen, the authorities and the regulators, the Anglo “angels”resorted once again to the use of the four letter word, in all its manifestations, to jibe at other bankers, sneer at punters and divert the attentions of the regulator by a series of evasions and omissions.
Try as I might, I can’t imagine the great banker of the Lemass goverment, T. J Whittaker saying…”just get the f…..g money. I like sober men in suits, being in charge in a sophisticated way. The most disappointing aspect of that whole business, was the lack of dignity in the phone conversations between David Drumm and John Bowe. Here are men entrusted with huge amounts of money in bonds, stocks and shares behaving like schoolboy guttersnipes. Had I been an investor, I would have been appalled at the language they employed.
When presenting themselves in public, they were of course, “posi-f… ing-tively” polite and businesslike. The idea that once they had reached the safety of their cocoons, they reverted to corner-boy English as their lingua franca, underlines how little they cared about the customers and how lacking in class was their modus operandum.
Surprisingly, the F word didn’t make it into The Oxford Dictionary until 1982. But long before that, one of our superior talents, as a race, has been our ability to find a myriad of contexts for the most famous four letter word.
Michael Lowry is a fairly fluent exponent as we heard in his phone call to an English solicitor. I’d like to put Michael Lowry and David Drumm up against each other. F Bombs at dawn at the top of Grafton Street. And as the referee I’ve just the man or woman, if you prefer, Agnes Brown.
The BBC can’t get enough of her. Most of the gags are so old and hoary, that nobody is using them anymore. He has the free run of the gag archive, while all the young comedians are busily caught up telling each other and the audience about their complicated “I came from nothing”background” stories.
But the old gags are not enough on their own and the real laughs come when Mrs. Brown uses the F Bomb. The British audience howl with laughter at a little old lady who says f..k all the time.
If we’d copped that sooner and dressed our menfolk as little oul wans, who’s to say we couldn’t have laughed ourselves to freedom and there might have been no need for the Flight of the Earls, The Famine, or the Myxomatosis Epidemic of the 50’s.Article Written by Shay Healy First Published in The Irish Daily Mail, Saturday 20th July 2013 Shay Healy’s latest eBook ‘The Danny Boy Triangle’ is Out Now on Kindle 2.99 Free Kindle Reader – download app