Michele A'Court: 'I quite like the F-word'
It is a great thing to be pulled up short from time to time, made to take a good look at yourself, go to your room and have a think about what you've done.
So in response to a recent criticism, I've been reflecting on the concept of offensive language.
Apparently, on stage and in the normal run of my everyday chitchat (which to my mind are actually the same thing) I might use the F-word a bit.
I quite like the F-word. It has a delightfully explosive quality - like an aural air-punch or the verbal equivalent of "jazz hands". I know there are gags of mine and other comedians that fly their highest only when given that extra puff of wind from the perfectly placed f.
I also like the S-word, especially when someone from Louisiana says it so the vowel in the middle lasts all afternoon. And I enjoy the imaginative mash-ups of standard- word-plus-curse-word created by people who clearly love language - the good and the bad - and have time on their hands.
Swearing like a sailor is not, for me, about showing off in public or faking blokeyness.
I use the F-word even when no-one is listening. My thought process has expletives in it and, alone with a hammer and an injured thumb, my go-to phrase for expressing pain and frustration consists of three monosyllabic swearwords tightly strung together.
When a TV show begins with the warning "May contain language that some viewers find offensive", I translate that in my head to mean the dialogue will be naturalistic and authentic, true to the characters rather than sanitised for a commercials-driven timeslot.
I am aware, though, that other people who don't think with profanities or hear them regularly in their own kitchen notice them and find them offensive.
Often, they notice more and take greater offence when a lady says them. I can't help anyone with that.
But I do understand that words have power. For me, the intriguing question is, "If I am not offended by curse words, what does offend me? Which words should I be leaving out of my daily conversations because they hurt my ears and make me sad?"
Aside from polar-fleece and walk-socks, I have decided what really offends me isn't a list of words; it's people who are constantly unkind.
People whose ideas offend me because they come from a place of hate and anger. People for whom being talked about provides the oxygen that fans those flames.
The people, for example, who protest at the funerals of American troops in the name of God. People who run attack-websites or whose world view is consistently lacking in empathy and predicated on victim-blaming.
So that's what I will consciously try to wipe from my lexicon this year - the names of the people I find offensive.
I may have to resort to the odd euphemistic representation to make a point - the way we used to say "fudge" when we were kids - but I'm curious to see how it works.