There it was, as my daughter was on my shoulders at the front of the crowd at the Latitude Festival a couple of weeks ago. I could swear I heard her little voice say through the pounding music, “Mum, that guy’s a fanny,” but it was noisy and we were watching The Macabees on stage. I must be mistaken. Admittedly, the lead singer, although a fairly ordinary chap did have a ridiculous and very out of place drop earring on, and it did make him look like “a fanny” but surely something else was concerning the girl.
“What did you say?” I shouted upwards towards her as she perched on me. “That guy’s a fanny,” I think she replied. No, it’s too noisy, I can’t hear her, I’ll just ignore her and if it’s something urgent I’ll either feel a warm trickle down my neck or she’ll shout louder. She didn’t just call someone a “fanny”. She's seven.
Fifteen minutes later and we’re back with our wider group. She off my shoulders and marching towards Meester M, and this time there’s no mistaking it, “Dad look at that guy on stage. He’s a fanny.”
Ahhh, it’s a rite of passage and we’ve all done it. Now I’m on the receiving end of it, and it’s hilarious. It’s kids trying out swearwords and to be honest there’s a coffee table book waiting to be compiled. In fact let’s start it here on the Misssives!
My personal one isn’t that funny, but I remember it well. I simply complained to my parents one night that Neil Young was “crap”. I was about 9 at the time. It’s a view I now don’t subscribe to, even though the album they were listening to was “Comes a Time” which even Neil would have to admit isn’t one of his best. I simply thought crap meant rubbish although there was some slight doubt as to whether it was a sweary or not having only ever heard it in the playground and not from the lips of say...my Sunday School teacher or a newsreader. My parents had to concur, it kinda does mean rubbish.They did give me that. All the same, it’s not a word for nine-year olds to be casually banding about like an apprentice fishwife.
My brother in law, Snorky's is a gem. And I don’t think he’ll mind if I nick it for my coffee table book. Aged around nine, clearly an optimum age for this type of thing, he was allowed to stay up later than his younger siblings when his parents were having guests round for dinner. It was a rarefied atmosphere, he probably had been given some grape Shloer or Top Deck for a treat, which in the seventies was like pretend kid booze. Being privy to heady adult conversation, he obviously felt he had to join in with his own witty, mature Noel Coward-esque banter. “Well, I don’t know about you lot," he said, “but I’ve had a fuck of a hard day.” Bedtime without pudding swiftly followed for the youngster.
My gran also recounts the day her youngest son (my uncle) came home from school and was exasperated looking for one of his lost toys. “Where is that fucking motor car?” he muttered to himself, barely six years old. My gran can't remember whether or not he ever found it.
Years later that same uncle was eavesdropping on his own young son playing cowboys in his bedroom and narrating the story and the acting parts of a classic tale of one small town sheriff and his nemesis, “Who do you think you are coming round here causin’ trouble?” said the boy as the lawman. His nemesis replies in a cartoon Western drawl, “I’m... just... some... fuckin’ guy...” he slurs as he draws his weapons and lets the bullets rip.
My son recently warned me not to write a book about him, so I tread carefully with this one but it’s too good to pass up. It was simple and it was heartfelt. Relentlessly tormented by his younger sister who ignored his repeated warnings he was moved to anger and was considering some serious name calling. Worked up into a frenzy he suddenly screamed at her, “Get off me, you...you...you Bagina!”
Hence the new word that enters the pantheon of nicknames for ladybits that exist for all to enjoy. Have it on me. Bagina- use it with my blessing. But not in front of the kids, please.
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