I seem to have a case of Quake Mouth

02:45, Sep 10 2013

Remember the outcry over the Toyota TV ad with the word ''bugger''? Seems ridiculous now, doesn't it?

The Press has a style book which contains various rules pertaining to stories and words (I printed it out once years ago, not realising it was almost 39,000 words).

For example, if you were writing a story about racehorses to be published on the racing page the Style Book advises that you would refer to them as ''he'' and ''she'', not ''it''.

But if you were writing about an animal for the news pages you would refer to this beast as ''it''.

Why are horses allowed gender but not cats or rabbits? I really don't know.

Swear words and other words that some might find offensive are published with dots where the letters should be, and you, the reader, get to play 'guess the swear word'.


TV and Radio broadcasters have a guide to What Not to Swear, it's put out by the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

The most recent guide was released yesterday and included the words you'd expect it to.

My go-to words are ''bollocks'' (said with a faux British accent), ''pants'' and ''bear with'' (ergo Miranda). I also went through a phase where I used ''feijoa'' a lot.

Once while making dinner I put a kebab skewer through my finger.

As I did this in front of my children I simply said ''Oh dearie me, mum's got a bit of an ouchie'' which was quickly followed by ''Goodness, gracious me, I'll just get a towel to mop up this increasingly large pool of blood''.

If there had been no children present I would have been screeching ''BOLLOCKS!!'' and ''PANTS!!!''.

As it turns out if I had started swearing the pain might have decreased.

A study published in The Journal of Pain (yes really) in 2009 found that people can withstand an ice-cold water challenge for longer by repeatedly swearing compared with reciting a neutral word.

Swearing causes a natural form of pain relief that is part of the body's ''fight or flight'' response.

But if you swear every day, however, it doesn't work.

Like everything else, researchers suggest swearing be used in moderation.

For many months post-quake I seemed to have a case of Quake Mouth.

The slightest wobble would set me off and I'd be yelling ''bollocks'' at the ground as if the tectonic plates might be shamed enough to stop shimmying about.

Now I think it's perfectly justifiable to yell ''EQC'', ''Cera'', ''Ofcoursethere'sahousingcrisis'' or ''Brownleesaidwhat?'' instead.

In Press Style Book Land no-one swears and everyone is as demure as Enid Blyton characters.

A while back now I wrote a story in which someone I interviewed had said: "He handled himself like a bit of a c... in the past.''

The boss called me into the office to discuss it, shutting the door behind me. It's always bad when they shut the door behind you, isn't it?

He then said that he felt that that particular 'c' word should never appear in print in any form, not even followed by dots.

There were words to the effect that I had the most leeway to express swear words as it was. Trying to sneak a c in was me going a step too far, he felt.

For a second I felt a little like Gordon Ramsay must every day.

Whenever I see words with letters missing published in The Press I imagine particularly innocent readers playing Guess That Word over breakfast - ''Bob, did he handle himself like a coat? Like a cake?''

But I do agree, I find use of the 'c' word a bit like putting a kebab skewer through my finger.

Do you swear? Do you play guess that word while reading The Press? What do you think is the worst word? (Use dots - remember we're all Enid Blyton characters).

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