“In the heat of the moment, you can say stuff that you regret,” observed Andy Murray after his fiancée was caught letting rip at court-side in the Australian Open.  Lip-readers logged every word, apparently.  There’s something undeniably funny about seeing so many F-words strung together. I couldn’t help thinking of the GIs’  song that the late Paul Fussell digs up in his encylopaedic WW2 study, “Wartime”. (Fussell served in the forces himself – he wrote that memorable essay, “Thank God For The Atom Bomb” – so the book is no dry, academic inventory.)  The ten-stanza ditty he mentions in the chapter on language was inspired by a village in Cathness called Halkirk. It must have been a grim place for a young man far from home:

This fucking town’s a fucking cuss

No fucking trams, no fucking bus.

Nobody cares for fucking us

In fucking Halkirk.


No fucking sport, no fucking games,

No fucking fun. The fucking dames

Won’t even give their fucking names

In fucking Halkirk

When I posted those lines on Twitter Jonathan Portes pointed out that John Cooper Clarke’s poem “Evidently Chickentown” uses profanity in much the same way. As Private Eye might put it,  I wonder if they are in any way related?


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Chief theatre critic for The Times. Twitter: CliveDavisUK Facebook: www.facebook.com/clive.davis.10 Instagram: clivephotos
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