1968 - At the age of four years old I had a foul mouth. This was a logical progression in my vocabulary due to my parents continually using foul language around me in the house. If my ma' and da’ swore then I would too. I took pleasure in calling someone "a wee bastard". That was me, right in there at the deep end of swearing - no messing about on the periphery with mild swear-words. I was an all or nothing child.
I even managed to call the local Presbyterian minister foul-mouthed monikers when he came on one of his frequent visits to our house, in another attempt to bring my family of uncultured hillbillies to the Lord. The Minister leant his head to one side, beamed a big smile. He clasped his hands and leant down towards me.
“You’re a fuddin' tunt!” I replied.
There was a silence around the room as everyone tried to comprehend what I had just called a man of God. My mother went into a torrent of grovelling apologies to the minister while repeatedly smacking the back of my head as hard as she could.
“Wait til’ I get ya later, ya wee scamp!” she shouted at me, carefully watching her language and behaviour in front of the minister. As she pulled my by the arm upstairs and pushed me into my room, she ferociously whispered, “I’m gonna bloody kill ya’ when the Minister goes – ya’ wee shite!”
You see, I thought it would get a laugh; the same laugh I used to get when my mother and grandmother used to secretly goad me into calling my older sister “a fuddin' tunt”. My sister would be disgusted at this which would make my ma' and granny laugh even more. As my sister stormed out of the house I would repeat the phrase over and over, usually to a lilting little tune - "You’re a fuddin' tu-unt! You’re a fuddin' tu-unt..."
From the day I swore at the local man of God I was locked away upstairs each time he visited. It was as if I was a child of inherent evil.
"Where's Ian?" the Minister would ask. My mother would concoct an excuse such as "he's upstairs sleeping" or “he’s away for the whole day”. Meanwhile a family member had to sit upstairs with me to make sure I couldn't come down to greet the Minister in my own special four-lettered way.
…although what else can a four year old do when he is surrounded by parents who regularly screamed the worst obscenities which could be mustered up at each other during their wild drunken rows?
It’s obvious the four year old will learn from and imitate his teachers.
…and that's what I fuddin' well did.