I was flipping through a book about the Lady Chatterley trial last night, and chuckling over the prehistoric attitudes of the prosecution counsel. Everybody remembers Mervyn Griffith-Jones's line about whether it would be "a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read." But the moment when he gets to the naughty bits is high camp to the power of several:
"The word 'fuck' or 'fucking' occurs no less than thirty times. I have added them up, but I do not guarantee that I have added them all up. 'Cunt' fourteen times; 'balls' thirteen times; 'shit' and 'arse' six times apiece; 'cock' four times; 'piss' three times, and so on."
It's tempting to be smug about the whole business. Such prim and prissy attitudes are long gone, surely? But then comes a story from last month's Emmy Awards. Dame Helen Mirren, a woman who must be credited with guiding an entire generation of males through the traumas of adolescence, remarked upon accepting her bauble that she had almost fallen "arse over tit" on her way to the stage. This got a few laughs from an audience more used to female recipients bursting into tears. And the whole thing would have been forgotten, were it not for a person going by the frankly preposterous name of L Brent Bozell. Mr Bozell, L to his chums, is President of something called the Parents Television Council, which waves its fists and stamps its little feet at rudeness and badness on the telly. "It is utterly irresponsible and atrocious for NBC to air this vulgar language... when millions of children were in the viewing audience," said L, who has filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.
Atrocious? I'll give you atrocious, mate. This is Helen Mirren you're talking about. This is a woman so adored that, when she was chosen to play the Queen, the only reservation expressed was whether the Queen was classy enough to be played by Helen. You diss her, you diss all of us.
People, I need your help here. This is my 200th post on this blog, and I need to do something special. The obvious thing would be to dismiss Mr L Brent Bozell as an arse and a tit, and forget about it. But I think he deserves something bigger and better and badder. First of all, he needs to be warned, in the most direct terms possible, that you don't mess with the Mirren. But he also needs to be made aware that "arse over tit" is but a bland, vanilla-flavour topping on the seething, brandy-and-dark-chocolate-and-morello-cherries pudding of British sweariness. I want you to offer up the worst, vilest, most heinous, irresponsible, atrocious insults that can be swabbed from the darkest recesses of your putrid minds. Apply them to Mr L Brent Bozell (is that an anagram, do you think?) and put them in the Comments section. Pass the word around to your friends, family and blogroll. If I get a decent number, I might just let L Brent know what we think.
To kick off, my own humble offering:
"L Brent Bozell is a perineal spunkmuppet."
Off you go. And remember... this is for Helen.