The delicate task of keeping obscenities off our roads

THE DVLC has apparently decreed this week that they will not let anyone have the car number plate V14 GRA. This is because whoever gets it will be able to alter the 4 to looks like a capital A, and the number plate will then read VIAGRA. Which will be naughty. And the DVLC (which stands for Dirty Vocabulary Licensing Council) doesn't think we ought to have naughtiness on the roads. Five thousand deaths a year, yes. Naughty words on number plates, no.

How, you may wonder, are such decisions arrived at? Well, it's all down to the regular meetings of the Filth Committee, who must remain eternally vigilant as this transcript of a recent meeting will show.

Chairman: Gentlemen, I think we can congratulate ourselves on having avoided the Viagra trap. One up for the DVLC there, I think. That might have been as disastrous for us as the Fellatio scandal of 1975.

Voice: Fellatio?

Chairman: Ah, Marshall, you weren't with us in 1975, then?

Marshall: No, sir.

Chairman: Well, some bastard sneaked a number past us which read - well, I won't go into details.

Marshall: No, sir, I really meant - what is fellatio? A sharp intake of breath all round the table.

Chairman: Either that was a joke, Marshall, or it was a clear admission that you are incapable of performing this job. A dirty mind is essential in this job, Marshall - that and an overriding urge to interfere in other people's lives under the impression that you are improving them. That is why we get on so well with New Labour. Nervous laughter all round the table. Now, what's on the agenda today?

Secretary: Item No 1 is RSUXS, sir.

Chairman: Not quite with you.

Phelps: Perhaps I can explain.

Chairman: Ah, Phelps. You can usually be depended on to make an explanation grimly erotic. Fire away!

Phelps: Thank you, sir. Well, when an American doesn't like something he will say that it sucks.

Chairman: Sucks what?

Phelps: Just sucks, sir. It is always used intransitively. "Soccer sucks". Or "polenta sucks". But we get the unnerving feeling that some sort of obscene sucking may be involved, which of course would make any number plate incorporating SUX be much sought after.

Chairman: Right. And what action are you taking?

Phelps: We're on to the Americans, sir, for a bit of guidance, and we've applied to the International Obscenity Secretariat.

Marshall: The what?

Chairman: Oh God, I keep forgetting you're new here, Marshall. Fact is, we got quite good at keeping British filth off the road, before we realised we were letting a lot of foreign filth on. We saw to it in the early days that we had no car number plates with BUM or TIT on, and all the while we were letting cars go round with French words like CUL and CON on. Soon put a stop to that, with help from the IOS. OK, Phelps, get back to me when you find out about things sucking.

Phelps: Yes, sir.

Chairman: Meanwhile, put SUX on hold. Anything else?

Secretary: Yes, Item 2 is FEX.

Chairman: FEX? Not with you. Whose is this one?

Parry: Mine, sir.

Chairman: Let's have it, Parry.

Parry: Well, sir, you know that people are always trying to think of synonyms for the F-word, as American novelists went through a phase of saying "frig" and "frigging" even though nobody in real life ever said "frigging"?

Chairman: Yes, yes - get on with it!

Parry: The recent television smash hit Father Ted featured three Irish priests who tended to swear a bit. Well, instead of using the F-word, they were made to say "feck" and "fecking".

Chairman: Were they indeed! And what did the Pope have to say about that?

Parry: Nothing, sir. I believe the Pope has enough trouble trying to stop priests seducing little boys and having children, without worrying about them swearing as well.

Chairman: Fair enough.

Parry: Anyway, this means we are a bit worried about number plates incorporating FEX. It didn't use to be rude, but it may be now.

Chairman: Mmm. Interesting. Anything else?

Secretary: Usual request about SOD.

Chairman: The answer is no.

Secretary: Next item is NOB.

Chairman: NOB?

Phelps: Slang word, sir.

Chairman: I know that. A nob is a member of the upper classes. Nothing obscene in that, unless you're very left-wing...

Phelps: No, sir - nob, or knob, has recently acquired a new meaning... Etc, etc. Full transcript of this meeting on request.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits