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A Complete And Utter Character

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A complete and utter character

Brilliant US comedian George Carlin had a famous bit on the seven words you can’t say on TV.

Have a guess what they are, then check to see if you were right.

What swearing is acceptable in the professional work of flaks and hacks?

For press releases it is pretty much out of bounds. Newspapers take a more relaxed approach, with even the “worst” words sometimes now appearing un-asterisked.

In gentler days the best subs came up with brilliant euphemisms for offensive phrases.

An interviewee who called the reporter the worst of the lot might be quoted as saying “you are a total custard cream”.

The FT had an excellent column the other day in praise of swearing and its glorious benefits.

Academics say foul language “boosts group bonding, raises pain tolerance and physical strength”. Which is why hacks are all as strong as Geoff Capes.

The FT column, the FT!, skips right past the euphemisms, with one “bullocks”, one “fling you bar-steward”, one “schtup”, one “fornicating furious” and one “I don’t copulating care anymore”.

The only phrase asterisked is “custard cream”.

The Daily Mail still adopts the cakeism approach to swearing, generally referring only to “foul-mouthed outbursts” in the paper and warning online commentators to behave themselves.

While ensuring its readers know what was really said.

The editor-in-chief Paul Dacre is famed for a personal style that sees him sometimes telling staff he won’t abuse them anymore, before he inevitably lapses.

Reporters in the lift at Daily Mail towers are heard to ask each other how the boss is behaving lately.

“He’s double custard creaming again”, comes the reply.

My favourite example of swear euphemisms came from an office manager with little care for hack land.

Asked if we regarded a colleague as “a character or a custard cream,” we replied that he was a character.

“Yeh,” she deadpans. “Complete and utter character.”

Press release of the day

British Gas today launches a new index to track how UK families feel about the journey to Net Zero.

On average, people think we will get there nearer 2075 than 2050. According to the results, climate change is ranked as the fourth most important issue facing the nation.

Andrew Middleton, Managing Director of British Gas Net Zero says:

“We hope that this index will help to measure changing attitudes over time and understand how people are feeling about choices in the lead up to the Net Zero target, particularly in light of these difficult economic times.”

Stories that will keep rolling

1) Does Aston Martin still look like one of the worst floats in years? Can it really ever hit its sales targets?

2) Will the Fed go for another shock and awe rate rise?

3) Can the Bank of England afford to go against the Fed or should it copy it?

4) Should you buy shares in Wizz Air or easyJet or Ryanair or none of them?


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