Coarse Language

If there’s one thing about my mum that inspires great affection in me it is this: she likes swearing. I like swearing.

Every time content warnings come on before the start of a show on telly, and they warn about coarse language she says, “Oh, I do love a bit of coarse language.”

Every once and a while, she’d chastise me for swearing in the house, and I’d frown, and then she’d smile. She herself didn’t swear a lot, but my swearing as a result, went completely unchecked.

So when I was eight, skiing on a family holiday with my American ski instructor and said “damn” when going down a particularly difficult hill, I didn’t think anything of it.

He, on the other hand, was completely appalled. “Lydia, don’t say that! It’s rude!”

“… oh,” said wee me, completely taken aback. “But it’s not as rude as…” I trailed off, perplexed. I kept skiing for the rest of the day, but once I’d gotten home I pulled off my boots and my jacket and sat in front of the gas fire, trying to get warmer and drier.


“Yes sweetheart.”

“Larry said today that ‘damn’ is a rude word to say.”

“Well, it is,” she said, “but Larry’s an American.”

She shrugged, and I shrugged, and I went off to my room to watch some show about animals before teatime.

(This isn’t a post that’s anti-American, by the way, it’s honestly me just laughing at myself.)

But I recently retold this story to my mother, and she had the same reaction as she had before.

We laughed, we shrugged.

And I realised, as I was walking away, that my prevalence for swearing is probably one of the only Australian stereotypes I fit.

… that and my ability to eat large quantities of Vegemite on toast. I like Vegemite.

I should start a swear jar in the house, shouldn’t I?

(But if I’m honest, I won’t, because I’d be pretty fucking broke by the end of the third day.)


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