I’ve decided to volunteer myself for re-programming so I can survive in the 21st century without committing a hate crime. I’m not sure where to go for this – maybe readers can help. They often tell me where to go.
It all started, as it so often does, while I was standing at the bar of the Goat Strangler’s Arms and mentioned that I’d taken the wife to see the film, The Favourite.
It was coming up to Valentine’s Day and you know I like to show her a big time (senior citizen tickets for two with a cup of tea plus a choice or biscuits – a chocolate hobnob or a custard cream). Who says romance is dead?
Well, this wasn’t exactly
‘The ladies in it kept using a very rude word,’ I remarked. ‘Very rude indeed. Have times changed? Can I use it now without my dear mother revolving in the family crypt?’
Definitely not, said the pint of mild. ‘That word can only be used without causing offence by a woman, and a very particular type of woman, mainly young and feisty. The sort that snarls if you hold the door open for her.’ Righto, I replied, making a mental note.
I told them Olivia Coleman had picked up a Golden Globe for playing Queen Anne in said film and also there getting a gong was actor Ben Wishaw who said his performance in A Very English Scandal was a tribute to a ‘queer hero’. Addressing the whisky and water, I said: ‘I used to tut quite loudly and roll my eyes whenever my aged dad used that word. I eventually trained him to say gay. Was I wrong?’
Silence ensued, then pint of
mild took a thoughtful sip and chipped in: ‘I think if you are gay it’s all right to call yourself queer but if you are not gay and you call somebody queer that’s probably going to get you arrested.’
Reassured, we moved onto the safer ground of football. Safer, that is, until the lager and lime mentioned the police were out to arrest Chelsea fans who used a particularly unpleasant word to describe Tottenham supporters and their religion.
We all nodded our support for the boys in blue (that’s the police, not the Chelsea fans who also happen to wear blue). Then whisky and water said: ‘That horrible word…it’s the same horrible word that Tottenham fans use to describe themselves, isn’t it?’ ‘Ahh,’ said the pint of mild. ‘That’s true. But I think they say it with irony, if a football fan can be ironic. Besides, there is a strong argument that Tottenham fans shouldn’t use that word to describe themselves – not because it’s a hate crime because, if it was, that would make them the perpetrator and the victim – but because it gives an excuse to people who use it in a nasty way.’
We thought we had this clear in our minds and agreed that we didn’t know anyone who used any of these nasty words and if we did we would give them one of our especially hard stares. Suddenly, lager and lime, always a clever dick, asked: ‘So should Irish people stop making jokes about Irish people because it gives us carte blanche to tell Irish jokes? Should I stop watching Father
Ted repeats ad nauseam?’
We all went rather quiet and stared at our shoes, pondering the enormity of this and wondering what we were going to talk about without causing offence.
Then pint of mild piped up: ‘Can we still tell jokes about Yorkshiremen?’ With much relief, we all boomed: ‘Oh yes!’
Have a great, yet inoffensive, month!
Watch your language Olivia!