Tuesday, 8 January 2008

The Invincibility of Innocence

I’ve mentioned before that my sister lives in a remote village in the very far north of Scotland. Over the years she’s become deeply involved in the running of a drop in centre for the local elderly. Each day a lively assortment of old ladies gather there for lunch. These senior St Trinians are a chipper bunch.
A couple of days ago one of her fellow volunteers, a vigorous woman in her early eighties, phoned my sister. Apparently she was supervising the daily lunch club when things got rather racy.
The discussion had somehow got round to swear words. The ladies were trying to decide what makes a swear word such a bad thing when many of the words are to be found in the dictionary. The talk at the table ranged far and wide until, Gee, my sister’s friend, gradually began to realise she didn’t know the meaning of many of the words that were being so gleefully discussed.
On arriving home she decided to look them up in the dictionary.
“And do you know,” she told my sister in a shocked voice over the phone,
“Many of the words were marked with the word taboo and most of those words are to do with sex!”
My sister, glad that this was a telephone conversation, struggled to control her smiles,
“Yes” she agreed, she believed that was true.
Gee continued conspiratorially,
“I told my husband about those words and what they meant, and he was so shocked he threw his bible at me.”

Such is the invincibility of innocence.
I guess it isn’t only miles that separates her world from mine.

The photo is of some of my sister's other neighbours.


Preseli Mags said...

I have a hilarious mental picture of the bible-throwing. Fabulous. There's hope for the world yet. Little pockets of innocence have such huge importance. Lovely!

Wooly Works said...

My mother was an accomplished purveyor of four letter words in her day, and as I think back on them now, they're not at all offensive compared to what I hear being said now. Perhaps it has more to do with a particular culture than sex itself. Any by the way, when you think about it, why is a reference to sex so taboo when it permeates everything we see?

Faith said...

It's often more the way a word is said rather than the word itself that causes offence.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Wow how lovely to be so innocent . . . I smiled too at the bible throwing . . .

Hope you got your invite to the Purplecoo party tomorrow night ok.

Elizabethd said...

How lovely to think there are people who dont regard swear words as a normal part of the language.

Anonymous said...

I definitely agree with Faith. There is a way to say various words and a way not to.

I have to be extra careful around Amy as she talks in echolalia most of the time!

Crystal xx

elizabethm said...

How did i miss your blog? I must have been working. Loved this and the idea of the shock. I am actually one of those people who is not really bothered by swearing although many of my friends mind quite a lot. Soon it will disappear, having lost the power of taboo. God knows what we will do then!

LittleBrownDog said...

A lovely story, lbw - I can just picture it! Reminds me of a story I heard this Christmas. A friend of my son's got a Nintendo Wii (pronounced "wee" for Christmas - one of those electronic TV toys, for the unfamiliar. He was demonstrating it to his fascinated great granny who came over for the day from the care home where she lived. Apparently, when she got back, she was gleefully telling the other residents that her great grandson had got a "Nintendo Sh*t" for Christmas. We didn't even know she knew such a word!

Zoë said...

Fabulous - that had me giggling, I do some voluntary work collecting and escorting out local olds to and from the village day centre - some of the conversations about life whilst we are on the minibus are definatly from a long pass and more innocent age. I often think its a shame life isnt still like that.

Exmoorjane said...

By whatever (insert your four letter word of choice here), I wish James were so innocent! fabulous story, LBW (it's going to stick now).... I also love the spooky one before... I once scared the living daylights out of myself with a spooky noise, thinking it was the ghost of an asthmatic old man. Turned out to be an owl roosting on the chimney pot.

laurie said...

that's hilarious.

when you don't know the meaning, even the nastiest words pack no emotional wallop. i think that's why non-native speakers sometimes swear shockingly.

Milkmaid said...

Thats lovely, I wish I didn't know so many swear words!!

Fennie said...

Oh lovely! But I bet he knew all too well their meaning - but of course he would have had to pretend he didn't.

Reminds me of a lovely cartoon showing and elderly husband and wife in front of the television. They look at each other in startled amazement. One is saying (but we don't know which) "I thought the brothel scenes weren't terribly convincing!"

Posie Rosie said...

That made me giggle,loved the 'old ladies' gathering in the picture, look like the old ladies gathered on our farm today!!