Monday, 4 July 2011


Someone has been wiretapping my bathroom. And they've made a million bucks out of it.

The loo is my swearing refuge. It's where I run to when my nocturnally expressive child won't be pacified for the fiftieth time. Here no one judges me. Here no one picks up verbal weaponry for strategic deployment at effing playgroup.

I don't know who dunnit. It may have been Nixon's ghost attempting revenge, but acting on bad intelligence. It may have been the out of warranty gremlin in league with the crap evil spy agency.

However it happened, a transcript landed on a printing press and ventured onto the interwebs where it met with a shi*tstorm of approval.*

'Go the F**k to Sleep', written by Adam Mansbach and illustrated by Ricardo Cortes, is a bastardized version of 'Goodnight Moon'. It has topped the Amazon bestseller list, converting the previously pro bono medium of midnight bathroom effing and blinding into a fat golden goose.

The title is certainly more memorable than 'Mummy is crying in the loo again', which would have been my best shot. The illustrations are lovely, and the tone of wits end soothery is perfect:
The cubs and the lions are snoring, wrapped in a big snugly heap. How come you can do all this other great shit, but you can't lie the fuck down and sleep?
I'm as much a fan of the f-bomb as the next sloppy underqualified parent. It is the English language's most versitile, most loaded, most easy to pronounce word (as once loudly demonstrated by my little brother in his first year of life).

The only way to swear worse than the f-bomb is to combine it with motherhood in the Hispanic world (then duck and cover), or to employ a certain C-word in North America. The latter is an amusingly mild word in Britain, which causes at least ten American tourists to lose their cool in London pubs each year. But they get even with 'fanny pack.'

Studies have shown that swearing is good for you. Naughty words release pent-up steam through your ears and through your reputation. My own research indicates that people who never swear stand a much greater chance of spontanious combustion.

As Penn and Teller show in their TV series 'Bullshit', substituting 'santa baca' for 'holy sh*t' voids the healthful benefits of swearing. If a word doesn't cause someone else to have a coronary, then it ain't good for your blood pressure.

'Calm down mama. Maybe you should have the effing nap.'
Now I hate to be a kill-joy here, but I worry that the f-bomb's leap to children's literature and bestseller status may diffuse some of its sting. It may - gasp - become acceptable at playgroup, which is the death knell for any obscenity.

If this comes to be, what horrible curse will parents furiously whisper to the toilet at 4am when their babies won't sleep?** Will the spirit of George Carlin come to their assistance? Will there be a sudden spate of spontaneous bathroom fires? Perhaps parents will simply have to accept the new more socially accepted face of their old crutch word, take some deep breaths, and keep a bucket of water handy. Samuel L Jackson, previously a dabbler in great vengeance and furious anger, has peacefully taken this path. His audio version of the book that is really quite endearing.

Perhaps I'm only seeing the negative side of this exploding into flames business. The other day  I spotted an ad on the underground for the latest mass market horrible murder mystery book. 'GET THE EXPLOSIVE NEW BESTSELLER!' it shouted at me in bold type. 'By this this guy,' it continued (I'm translating now), 'who wrote this other explosive bestseller last year and is now sipping champagne on a yacht.'

This caused me to pause and reflect. You see, I just punched a sample of my writing to this website, and it has confirmed my worst fear: I write like HP Lovecraft.*** Don't get me wrong: I love the master of weird fiction just as much as the next supernaturally-paranoid dork. The man conjured ancient demons from the sea, and vast subterranean evil in Antarctica, for eff's sake. But Lovecraft suffered from nightmares, chronic illness, poverty and an early death. He spent his short life hounded by mostly real humans and mostly made-up monsters.

So I am concerned. And I am starting to think maybe I should stop being such a fire-retardant grinch. Blowing up in flames or going broke seem to be the two available career paths in the effing world of words.

*My lawyer has pointed out that this particular f-bomb has been heavily augmented since I last verbalized it into the ether over my sink. She has advised me to say that I can't really take any credit here. Effing lawyers.

**Parents outside of Latin and North America that is, who are covered already for this eventuality, as mentioned above.

***I don't - the website is prone to flattery. For instance it doesn't include Dan Brown and Cormac McCarthy on the list of possible options.


  1. Fucking great!

  2. I am literally sat here wetting myself at your (as usual) genius literature of a blog post but also at Samuel L Jackson's audio of *that* book. F**king brilliant!

  3. Aw, thanks Heather, you are (as usual) too kind :)

    Sam Jackson is a hero, no?

    Parental swearers of the world unite!!!

  4. Thanks lady :)

    Isn't swearing fecking awesome?

  5. If it's any consolation, I entered a sample of my writing at the same web site and was told I'm similar to Isaac Asimov. If I was him, and I was alive, I would be really pissed.
    What, no comparison to Jen Lancaster? Candace Bushnell? I copied a portion of a post about how to get laid more by your wife for fuck's sake. sheesh.
    p.s. that kid's book is brilliant.

  6. Wow. This is you at your effing best! And I would read 'Mommy's Crying in the Loo Again' sounds funny.

  7. ps. SLJ has been lately eating lunch at Gen's Flying Star : )

  8. Does he reign down great vengeance on the huevos rancheros? Wonder if he's gone totally mellow and retired to Saint Fake as a hippie...somehow I doubt it.

  9. Ah, thanks chica.

    'Mommy's Crying in the Loo' is like it says on the tin - very dull, very little swearing, wouldn't recommend it.

  10. Isaac Asimov??? Wowsers. Makes my Lovecraft credential look rather shabby!

    I suppose if we were to let this go to our heads, I'd henceforth go by Cthulu Mama and you'd start calling yourself Saucy Robot ;)

  11. I have always said, you can never show just how angry you are unless you use the word F**k!lmao at this post! Nat

  12. Thanks Nat - no emphasis like the f-word, I say :)

  13. Frankie Parker6 July 2011 at 13:49

    Bloody brillant post, Samuel L Jackson is a god and his voice is so hypnotic...

    I have just spent the last 30 minutes saying exactly this, under my breath of course.. to my 2yo who is refusing his lunch nap by kicking his door... Argghhh!!!

  14. Rocky Mountain Woman6 July 2011 at 15:34 I remember the days of "crying in the loo". Typically, I would rock my little darling and cry while I did it at 3:00 AM....

    And I do believe that at certain memorable moments, I may have let go with some pretty interesting profanity.

    That kid is 30 now, with a family of his own and a little boy just like him...

    paybacks are a bitch!

  15. Thanks for stopping by Rocky Mountain Woman, and for giving me hope: I am currently on the arse-end of the payback see-saw, but someday I hope to be promoted to the good side...hopefully I will cease so swear like a sailor then :)

  16. Why thank you Frankie - I reckon two is the age that teaches us mums to be both sailor-sweary and mega-zen - it is the ultimate challenge. I'm right there with you in the approaching-two trenches - commiserations...invest in quality doors :)

  17. Brilliant idea. Crying in the loo... you could do a cover version of Crying at the discotheque.

  18. Mansbach has caught a lot of buzz for that book and has been making the morning show circuit here in the US.

    As for swearing being good for your health, I agree. When you stub your toe, dropping the F-Bomb feels as good, if not better, than an Advil for the pain.

  19. How fitting - what the morning shoes could really use is a good dose of swearing to liven things up.

    I agree - advil's got nothin' on the f-bomb.

  20. I actually pre-ordered this book and the kids gave it to Tom for father's day. I think it's a work of genius.

    I too wish I had got off my fat ass and written in though.... wouldn't mind a few of those £s coming my way!

  21. Hah, a great fathers day gift. Happy effing reading :)

  22. Looking for blue sky7 July 2011 at 23:06

    We say 'Feck' in Ireland, which seems to be acceptable to everyone even TV distributors of Father Ted. And it works just as well as the other 'F' word...

  23. You know that if you don't want to sound rude in public (or in front of the kids) but you still need to drop that f-bomb you can just say: "kurwa"! :)

  24. Excellent, will remember that one thanks. I end up swearing in Spanish a lot too :)

  25. Fecking good idea, thanks, am adding that to the fecking verbal crutchword survival arsinal!

  26. I have to swear in my car...with the music loud! ha!

  27. I can't drive unless I'm swearing, and listening to loud music...which is why I mostly walk these days :)