Thursday 2 April 2015

Nice Fat F

Peter Norman comes clean about his dirty mouth:
When I do curse, why do I? Because I’ve stubbed my toe. Because I’ve missed an important transit connection. Because I’m copy-editing a bibliography and have just realized that I need to go back to the beginning and check for consistent application of Chicago Manual style in inclusive page-number ranges. Because I slept through the alarm. Because I’m in the company of friends, feeling happy, have a few pops under my belt, and feel like sloughing off my usual circumspect persona.

Am I a fan of the F-bomb? That depends on context, kind of like whether I’m a fan of fire. When it’s used with maximum artfulness, fuck can be an excellent word. Typically it’s a rose-on-casket deal: a single fuck is a more potent, elegant gesture than a machine-gun barrage. But not always. Some of my favourite movies crack the all-time Top 30 roster for quantity of F-words: Do the Right Thing (240),The Big Lebowski (260), Pulp Fiction (265), Goodfellas (300). I’m not aware of a similar list for literature, but James Kelman’s How Late It Was, How Late apparently contains four thousand of the motherfuckers, and I enjoyed all of them. And then there’s music. One of my upsetting mistakes in the early days of online commerce was purchasing and downloading a Tupac album, only to discover I’d shelled out for the clean version.

In the poem in question, “I Pipes Up,” the “I” is patently not me; he might be the farthest from me of all the speakers in the book. I don’t know exactly who this weirdo is, or more accurately what part of me he represents, but he’s got a lot of bitterness, bile, and spittle in his soul, and when it explodes into verbal form it’s inevitably gonna have a nice fat F at the start of it.

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