This is in some ways a follow up to my post ‘How to go, ‘And they’ll police that HOW exactly?’’ It does contain swearing, so you have been warned.

In the UK there’s an insidious system of sanctioning called Public Spaces Protection Orders. These have the ostensibly laudable aim of stopping people being a bleeding nuisance to the rest of the world, but in reality are little more than extensions of the ‘No Ball Games’ signs prevalent in the 60s in council estates. Some jumped up popinjays in town halls the length and breadth of the nation are using them as revenue earners.

Take this as an example. Salford Council has banned swearing in parts of Salford Quays. Say ‘fuck’ in public and you face a fine. The reason is that this constitutes ‘using foul and abusive language.’

Well, that rather depends on your point of view, doesn’t it? I have friends who use the word ‘fuck’ in the way most of us use punctuation. I find it irritating, but not foul or abusive. Who is going to define what’s foul and abusive? Some fucking jobsworth with an inflated sense of his own importance, that’s who. If you think traffic wardens are power-crazed, wait till the Speech Police encroach on your neighbourhood.

From my point of view, I find it pretty offensive when you get some holy roller standing on a soapbox and telling me I’m going to hell if I don’t repent my sins, or the ones they assume I’ve committed.

I find it offensive when I hear six year olds swearing like troopers as well, but I doubt the Speech Police will target them. Firstly because the age of responsibility is somewhat more than six, but mainly because they don’t have any money, do they? They’ll be going for those with hard cash.

I can see the point of banning drinking in public spaces, and maybe you can too. So it’s too bad that your Chablis when you have a picnic in Hyde Park could cost you dearly, but I imagine there will be one law for the toffs, and one law for the proles. Ditto for posh pubs in the West End where people have a drink outside on the pavement. Pimms good, Kestrel Super bad.

The toff/prole split is already clearly visible in Salford, because the Quays are where the toffs live and grow stupid beards. Where people with money live. The people who get an attack of the vapours if some prole gobs off, and must be protected at all costs.

There’s a surprise eh?

  1. PS. The comedian Mark Thomas, who is notoriously foul mouthed and very funny indeed, has sent a list of words he might use in his act to the Council for approval. For fuck’s sake, he’s a comedian and everybody knows what to expect from him, yet he has to check if he’s going to get his knuckles rapped.