I must admit, Gentle Readers, that there is a more than subtle art to insulting your fellow man (and don’t go all PC on me saying “Er, shouldn’t that be person, etc. ‘cos that sort of tripe doesn’t wash with me); and it’s a rare skill only a few have mastered.
In modern times, where common parlance has degenerated into text speak, emojis and mockney street patois, the ability to use our beautiful language to seriously offend the deserving is priceless.
Anyone can call someone a tosser or a wanker and question their parentage, but nowhere else are the hatpins sharper than in the worlds of politics and literature, where discourteous language is not exactly a new low in high-level discourse.
In Shakespeare, Falstaff kindly (not) pronounces the young Prince of Wales, to be a “bull’s pizzle”, thus receiving the retort that he is a “whoreson round man.” No love lost there, then.
And still, centuries after we whupped their arses at Agincourt, the love/hate relationship between us Brits and our Gallic counterparts continues unabated, with both sides ready to get down and dirty when the occasion demands. François Mitterrand, the former French president, famously said of Margaret Thatcher that she had “the mouth of Marilyn Monroe but the eyes of Caligula.”
And our new Foreign Secretary, the jocular Boris Johnson is no stranger to foot-in-the-mouth gaffes, causing particular outrage (not to me, I nearly pissed myself laughing) in Turkey when he penned a beautifully crafted limerick implying that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan enjoyed carnal relations with a goat. Not wise old chum, considering that insulting the President is viewed as being a heinous and often capital offence. Try Bognor Regis for your hols next year, son.
We don’t seem to be generally liked elsewhere on the Continent, either. Napoleon, he of the height-related chip on his shoulder, scornfully dismissed the English as a “nation of shopkeepers”, while former president Jacques Chirac said of the British: “You can’t trust people who have such lousy cooking. The only thing they have done for European agriculture is mad cow disease.” George Mikes, a Hungarian commentator, struck a hurtful low blow: “Continental people have a sex life. The English have hot-water bottles.”
But worry ye not. In the immortal words of Carly Simon, no none does it better [sic] than us. When accused of being drunk in the House of Commons, Winston Churchill reportedly told Bessie Braddock MP: “My dear, you are ugly, and what’s more, you are disgustingly ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly.” My all time personal favourite.
So, Gentle Readers, don’t allow yourself to descend into gutter speak like so many have nowadays. Scour your dictionaries (DON’T use a search engine, use a book), and re-educate yourself in the arcane wisdom of telling others that they are, indeed, witless wankers; banjo-playing in-breds of the highest order who don’t even deserve the contents of your bladder when on fire.
The late Clement Freud once famously described Margaret Thatcher as “Attila the Hen.” Remember this my friends, and try hard to match it because, God knows…
– there’s so many people out there who so richly deserve it.