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
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
Arts and Entertainment
Fake Banksy stencil given to artist Alex Jakob-Whitworth

art

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links
    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing