Middle Class Problems: I can't stop swearing ... but I fear the wrath of the school gate

There's the sickly sense of shame that comes with social transgression

My parents did not swear, so neither did I. Sure, there’d be the odd whispered exchange in the corner of the playground, the forbidden words traded like linguistic contraband, but to all intents and purposes, we kept the soap and water for our hands.

I left home, and it began. A $%@£ here and a !$£% there. It felt good, as though I were sloughing off suburbia, taking a step closer to becoming the urban sophisticate I hoped one day to be. A couple of years on, and what had been an effort became second nature, until every conversation came topped with a handful of expletives.

Then everyone started having kids. And I discovered that swearing wasn’t funny any more. People didn’t smile at my language. They winced, and nodded at their impressionable offspring. A potty mouth becomes inappropriate once in the presence of an actual potty. Only, however hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to stop. The wind had changed direction; the swearing had become a part of me.

And now I’m stuck. I still long to be a foul-mouthed city slicker, tossing profanities this way and that, the lovechild of Gordon Ramsay and Malcolm Tucker. Yet I fear the wrath of the school gate. That’s the problem with being middle-class. Yes, you get the ambition. But there’s also the sickly sense of shame that comes with social transgression.

So now, as I trip outside the nursery, I mutter, “Oh %£$*! Sorry! I didn’t mean it. Don’t listen to me! I didn’t say anything!”

In short, I sound like a complete and utter %^&$.

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