Wednesday, 25 August 2010

I first came across Barack Obama while he was a mere Senator and any thoughts of running for office were being kept to himself. I picked up his book Dreams of my Father when I realised it dealt with a theme that I was working on myself – fathers and sons. My first thought was that this man writes like a dream – insightful, honest, poignant and poetic. It was sometime later when I realised who he actually was. You could have pushed me over with a poetry pamphlet: a politician with heart and a lyrical eye for a sentence. Who knew there was such a thing?

Being a writer I admire, I notice when the press talks about books that he is reading. Stand aside Oprah – the book trade is watching Barry these days.

Last summer he reportedly read (among others) Richard Price’s Lush Life – a wonderful crime novel set in New York – and BO rose even higher in my estimation.

This summer, his reading list has caused a wee bit of a stushie in the world of publishing because it was reported that Baz went in to a bookshop and bought Jonathan Franzen’s new book – before the official release date.

A row over nothing because the Pres didn’t buy the book while it was embargoed – he was given a review copy of the book by the publisher. Which is a rather clever marketing wheeze for any publisher with contacts in the Oval Office.

You can now stand back and watch the book fly off the shelves.

Don’t think I’ll go there myself. I read Franzen's last work The Corrections after Oprah blethered on about it. It won awards by the truck load. Which is usually a warning sign in my humble...literary awards often mean style over substance, characters who are dissected until they have no life and a plot that you can describe in two words - going nowhere.

Curiousity won over caution and I bought a copy. AND it was a bit of a letdown to be honest. It was well scribed but –and this is a massive BUT – I detested the characters to a man/ woman. They were whiny and self-obsessed with all the wit and warmth of a loofah.

A loofah that had been sprinkled with itching powder.

The family patriarch, Alfred Lambert is suffering from Parkinson’s and dementia – his wife, Enid can’t cope with the demands he puts on her . Their eldest son, Gary (a banker) suffers from clinical depression (was the author looking into the future?). Chip, the middle child, is a college professor whose disastrous affair with a student sends his life into decline and lands him in the employ of a Lithuanian crime boss. Which always happens to people whose career falls off the chart, doesn’t it? Denise, the youngest of the family, is successful in her career as a chef, but she also fucks up her life by becoming involved with her boss's wife. A little bit of lesbianism to widen the readership, dontcha think?

Sure you need drama in your drama, but you need it to be leavened with some charm and some lighter moments, no? You don’t want to catch yourself shouting at the pages of the book – “ Would you feck off , sack your therapist and watch Frasier for two days?”

Anywho, back to Barack ‘cos I like a politician who admits to reading fiction. Our mob here in Britain give their summer reading lists to their press office and it’s a who’s who of political theory. They’re going on holiday to sit on a lilo, scrunch their toes through the sand and read Divided Government in Comparative Perspective? Yeah right, and I have green goblins hanging out my arse.

They must think that by reporting that their reading material is so cerebral that us lesser munchkins will all be impressed. Wrong. Those of us who are lovers of fiction know how far off-base they are. And now we have the proof. From the boffins at New Scientist magazine no less. They ran some tests. The results concluded that readers of fiction are more insightful, have highly developed empathy and understand the social manners that the world works to, compared to non-readers and readers who read non-fiction only.

So you – yes you reading this – you knew you were nigh on perfect. Now you know why. And you have the excuse to keep on reading – as if you needed it. When your loved ones complain about your nose always being stuck in a book you can say - but darling, sweetheart, dickhead, I am working at maintaining my high degree of insight and empathy making sure that I have an idea how to deal with all you fannies who don’t have enough attention span to read a sentence more than six words long.

Then smile sweetly and go back to reading your novel, cos they won’t have a clue what you’re talking about.

Friday, 20 August 2010

RIP Eddie

Edwin Morgan the Makar of Scotland and one of the literary world's modern greats has passed away. I'm not going to eulogise him here as there are many who better qualified than I to do so. Instead, I'm going to let one of his poems speak for him.


There were never strawberries
like the ones we had
that sultry afternoon
sitting on the step
of the open french window
facing each other
your knees held in mine
the blue plates in our laps
the strawberries glistening
in the hot sunlight
we dipped them in sugar
looking at each other
not hurrying the feast
for one to come
the empty plates
laid on the stone together
with the two forks crossed
and I bent towards you
sweet in that air
in my arms
abandoned like a child
from your eager mouth
the taste of strawberries
in my memory
lean back again
let me love you

let the sun beat
on our forgetfulness
one hour of all
the heat intense
and summer lightning
on the Kilpatrick hills

let the storm wash the plates

Edwin Morgan

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The one where he proves books are sexy...

A wee warning before you watch this: don't do it at work. Oh, and don't watch it before you go to work because you'll be singing the catchy refrain all morning - and getting some odd looks.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Forgotten Books

I was recently contacted by PATTI ABBOTT, blogger and reviewer extraordinaire with a request to fill a spot on her Friday's Forgotten Books blog. Any book, she said, any genre that you feel deserves some fresh attention - could you supply a review? So I did. And it's here below...

If you had been anywhere near me in the summer of 2005 I would have worn your ears off talking about this book. I had an enthusiasm bordering on the obsessive and I would have tugged at your shirtsleeve until you picked the book up and bought it for yourself.

Lee Cotton, in his own words “gets himself born in November 18, 1950” in Eureka, Mississippi at the same time as his mother’s neighbour, Jimmy Cooder’s Charolais bull finds itself dangling from a tree. This event causes a media storm “because bulls never show no natural enthusiasm or aptitude for tree-climbing”. And from the off you are aware that you are in the hands of a fascinating narrator.

Lee is a white child born to a black mother and in his early life learns to deal with the problems this presents. His Icelandic father, from whom Lee has inherited his “straw-blonde hair, buttermilk skin and blue eyes” doesn’t hang around to offer explanation to the local populace for this misplaced child. Instead, Lee has to work out how he should observe the customs of the day. Should he sit in the back of the bus with the blacks? What if someone comes on who doesn’t know he’s “a black soul in a white wrapper”, should he then sit in front?

Lee's troubles continue when he's a teenager and falls for the wrong, local (white) girl, Angelina, who is unfortunately the daughter of one of the most violent racists in town. Once Pop discovers his daughter is seeing a black boy (even if he is a white black boy) he organises a violent assault on the kid, leaving him for dead and far from home -- which allows Lee to start over with a new identity. All-white this time.

Lee is drafted, but gets to avoid Vietnam because the beating left him with some special (psychic) abilities that the Army is willing to explore. He gets posted in the middle of nowhere, with a load of other mind-freaks. He doesn't mean to escape from the army, but accidents do happen – on this occasion involving a high-speed car crash and a dangerously placed whisky bottle. He’s rescued by a doped up plastic surgeon and forced to adopt another a woman.

If all of this appears to be far-fetched it most assuredly is, but such is the writer’s skill that you allow the measured, thinking part of your brain some respite and just hitch along for the ride. And what a ride it is.

Wilson has littered this novel with ideas and surprises that are touching, dramatic and hilarious in turn. He takes great risks as he does so but in his winning narrator, the bold Lee himself, he has created a device that allows him to pull off everything he attempts. Lee Cotton is flighty, quirky, naive and fun and he and his actions are described in an energetic, inventive prose that never lets up for the duration of the “ballad”.

This is a rambunctious, romp of a tale told in faultless American idiom (from an Englishman) that never takes itself too seriously but one which offers much in the way of insight and entertainment.

Quite simply, get yourself a copy, turn off your weird-o-meter and dive in.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

The one where you learn how to write a letter of complaint...

This is lazy blogging at its best - with thanks to Marley - this is an apparently genuine letter of complaint sent to a manufacturer of sanitary towels.

Dear Mr. Thatcher,

I have been a loyal user of your 'Always' maxi pads for over 20 years and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core or Dri-Weave absorbency, I'd probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I'd certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts.

But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic I can't tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there's a little F-16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? I'm guessing you haven't. Well, my time of the month is starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I'll be transformed into what my husband likes to call 'an inbred hillbilly with knife skills.'

Isn't the human body amazing?

As Brand Manager in the Feminine-Hygiene Division, you've no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customer's monthly visits from 'Aunt Flo'. Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it's a tough time for most women.

The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in Capri pants... Which brings me to the reason for my letter. Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: 'Have a Happy Period.'

Are you f------ kidding me? What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness - actual smiling, laughing happiness, is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything

mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James? FYI, unless you're some kind of sick S&M freak, there will never be anything 'happy' about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and Kahlua and lock yourself in your house just so you don't march down to the local Walgreen's armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory.

For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn't it make more sense to say something that's actually pertinent, like 'Put down the Hammer' or 'Vehicular Manslaughter is Wrong'.

Sir, please inform your Accounting Department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flex-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bullsh!t. And that's a promise I will keep.

Always. . ...

Wendi Aarons

Austin , TX

Thursday, 12 August 2010

The Bob Blog

We decided that it was time the wee fella had a dog. A friend of a friend's dog just had a litter  of 14 and was looking for a good home for them. Don't know if we comply with the elfin safety regulations for a "good home" but we'll give it a damn good try.

The pups are too young to be separated from their mother just yet, but because we are GOOD friends of a friend we got first pick.

When we walked in to the large kennel housing the doggy family, mum was feeding. I didn't know whether to look away or throw water over her screaming - NOooo, and she has 8 breasts!

(For those of you who are crap at irony - I read an article recently about a breast-feeding woman who had water thrown over her by an arsehole who  - well, god only knows why these fuckwits behave the way they do.)

Anywho, the pups were a mass of writhing fur, latching on to a swollen teat while a brother/ sister tried to push it away. The wee fella looked at me and said, 'That looks cute and wrong all at the same time.'

The mummy labrador had 4 golden pups and 10 black ones. The wee fella decided he wanted a golden boy - dog is the correct term I believe - eeesh look at me, not even a dog owner yet and I know all the lingo.

The wee fella picked one of the livelier boys - see above - and is calling him Bob. Awwww.

While we wait for the pup, sorry Bob to open his eyes, grow a little more and get all his jags we have to come up with a Kennel Club name so that his pedigree can be registered. For those of you not in the know - excuse me while I act all superior - get me, doggy expert. I'll be on Dog Whisperer next week - the Kennel Club name has to be long-winded and dramatic. Like Roberto Dawnbreaker Persimmon Badinage. Or Lilly Shuttlebucket Apollo. Or perhaps even Sylvester Scraggyballs Breezebutt.

I'm struggling to pick one. I need something that suggests this dog is fun, lively, caring, comes from a good home and will never hump the legs of innocent bystanders. 

Choices, choices...anybody got a good idea for Bob's Kennel Club name?

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Movie Adaptations

As a book lover I’m not too fussed about movie adaptations. I have an image of the characters from the book and an emotional attachment that the movie seldom delivers.

They are both very different mediums, and for the record (yeah, like you care) I LOVE going to the movies, but the experience provided by the book is in my opinion superior.

Two adaptations I watched recently brought all of this to mind. For both movies I had to wait until it arrived in DVD because my local cinema will only show films that appeal to the mass market and celebrity brain washed. Anything that requires a brain cell, fugeddaboutit. And as for them showing a movie with subtitles, you have a better chance of Katie Price becoming a nun. (Mmm, this is me wondering when one of her “books” will be adapted for the big screen. Gawd help us)

One was The Road. Fantastic book; I blogged about it last year, but the movie kinda left me with the overriding feeling of – what was the feckin’ point of that? It stuck very closely to the story of the book, which is fine, but gave me nothing new.

The driver for me through this book was the father/ son relationship and the horrific feeling that the boy was going to die. At times I had to put the book aside so that I could calm down before reading on. The movie gave me nothing of that. It was well made, well acted and suspenseful in parts but it just didn’t get my old heart beating with worry the way that the book did. Would it have been better had I not read the book first? Anybody out there who has watched the movie and not seen the book I’d love to hear from ya.

Another was – big clue at the top of this post – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And this is where my theory falls down because this was a fantastic movie. Tense, atmospheric, well acted and beautifully filmed this film held me rapt from beginning to end. This is, of course, the Swedish version – in subtitles –  which brings me back to my earlier grump; does the Odeon chain think that the only movies worth showing are those made in English?

( As for rental stores, it makes me groan/ laugh every time I hire a movie from my local DVD store and the assistant warns me grimly, “This film has sub-titles.” I know, I know lots of people will probably not see the giant sticker on the cover and come in and complain when they start to watch the film and their poor wee brains can't keep up with words and pictures at the same point. Bless 'em.)

Sure, I was familiar with the plot and that detracted from my enjoyment - un peu - (don't ask why I put in some french when talking about a Swedish movie. It's my blog I can do whatever the feck I like) but nonetheless this is a wonderful piece of film-making. I hear that Hollywood is due to make its own version and how can they ignore it given the shitload of books that have been sold?

My advice for what it’s worth; watch the Swedish version before Hollywood ruins it.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Books, glorious books...

What have I been reading recently and what’s on the TBR pile, I hear you ask. You didn’t? Well here goes anyway...

Tana French – Faithful Place

The blurb wallahs are giving us this - The course of Frank Mackey's life was set by one defining moment when he was nineteen. The moment his girlfriend, Rosie Daly, failed to turn up for their rendezvous in Faithful Place, failed to run away with him to London as they had planned. Frank never heard from her again. Twenty years on, Frank is still in Dublin, working as an undercover cop. He's cut all ties with his dysfunctional family. Until his sister calls to say that Rosie's suitcase has been found. Frank embarks on a journey into his past that demands he reevaluate everything he believes to be true.

First line: My father once told me that the most important thing every man should know is what he would die for.

Verdict - this is a 5 out of 5'er. Tana French is a wonderfully evocative writer and she's on top form here.

Caro Ramsay – Dark Water

The promo goes thusly - A bitterly cold February in Glasgow. Hanging from a rope in the attic of a deserted tenement is the body of a criminal believed to have been hiding out on the Costa del Sol these last ten years. His face has been hideously disfigured. Investigating officers DI Anderson and DS Costello believe the dead man to be a suspect in a decade-old case: the rape and attempted murder of a young student by two men. And there are other, similar cases on file. But what has happened to the dead man’s accomplice, ‘Mr Click’? And with the discovery of another young woman who has been brutally attacked, detectives Anderson and Costello realize this terrifying psychopath has started working once more. They must use every trick in the book to stop him. For Mr Click has developed a taste for his bloodthirsty trade. And to satisfy his lust he will strike again and again . . .

First line: Emily Corbett flicked the headlights of the Punto on to full beam, highlighting the puffballs of soft drifting grey fog.

Verdict - not finished yet. Police procedural set in the West of Scotland. Her last 2 were excellent and I'm expecting this to go the same way.

Lin Anderson – The Reborn

When the body of a pregnant teenager is found in a Hall of Mirrors with the full-term foetus surgically removed, forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod is called in to assist the police. Suspicion falls on Jeff Coulter, a psychotic inmate at a nearby hospital whose hobby is making Reborns – chillingly realistic baby dolls intended for bereaved parents or those unable to conceive. But how could he have orchestrated the murder from a secure mental facility?

The investigation leads to a group of teenage girls who seem to have all got pregnant at the same time. Then a Reborn doll is discovered near the crime scene and a second girl from the group is found dead...

First line: It was the fear of the clown that drove Kira inside.

Verdict - not started yet. Lin's career is going from strength to strength with the recent announcement that her books were being adapted for TV. Rankin and Rebus comparisons are fatuous but nevertheless will be delivered by the skipful.

Kate Atkinson – Started Early, Took My Dog

A day like any other for security chief Tracy Waterhouse, until she makes a purchase she hadn't bargained for. One moment of madness is all it takes for Tracy's humdrum world to be turned upside down, the tedium of everyday life replaced by fear and danger at every turn. Witnesses to Tracy's Faustian exchange in the Merrion Centre in Leeds are Tilly, an elderly actress teetering on the brink of her own disaster, and Jackson Brodie who has returned to his home county in search of someone else's roots. All three characters learn that the past is never history and that no good deed goes unpunished. Kate Atkinson dovetails and counterpoints her plots with Dickensian brilliance in a tale peopled with unlikely heroes and villains. "Started Early, Took My Dog" is freighted with wit, wisdom and a fierce moral intelligence. It confirms Kate Atkinson's position as one of the great writers of our time.

Beginning: 1975 9 April – "Leeds: Motorway City of the Seventies". A proud slogan. No irony intended. Gaslight still flickering in some streets. Life in a northern town.

Verdict: Not started yet but I'm expecting BIG things. Kate Atkinson could copy out the phone book and I'd read it. She's THAT good.

Tony Black – Long Time Dead

Gus Dury is back on the drink. While in hospital after a hit-and-run accident, his best friend, Hod, asks him to investigate the ritual, on-campus hanging of an Edinburgh University student. The murder victim's mother is a high-profile actress, who has promised a big-money reward. Gus, desperate for money, goes undercover at the university, taking a janitor's job, and soon uncovers a similar ritualistic hanging which took place in the 70s. Few of the students are prepared to talk about it - until another one of their group turns up dead by the same method. But Gus now moves into very dangerous waters as he begins to discover what and who is really behind it all - and he becomes the next target for the executioner.

First line: The doctor was a non-nonsense west-coaster type that called a spade a shovel and if you didn’t like it would add, You got a problem with that?

Verdict; Squemish much? This is as noir as they come; as dark and intense as a day under the stairs of  a haunted house.

As per, the reviews will end up on te website eventually.

A couple of things occur to me as I write this – thing 1 – most of these writers are based in Scotland – Tana French is in Ireland which is as good as (and thing 1B - all are bloody brilliant) – thing 2 – four of them are women.

Thing 2 reminds me of a comment from the stage at Harrogate Crime Writers Festival last year (if you haven’t been yet and you love crime fiction, do yourself a favour and go). The comment was that male readers don’t read female writers. And it was Val McDermid who made it. A woman who surely knows her crime writing onions.

For me it’s all about the quality of the writing and being captivated by the storytelling. I NEVER check the gender of the writer first. When I look at the books on my book shelves, floor, stairs, bathroom floor – pretty much everywhere in my house – the gender mix is pretty even, with I have to be honest a leaning towards male names.

Am I out on a limb here? One of the enlightened few?

Tell me what you think, fellas.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Seven (or eight) Stages of Writer's Grief...

I came back home from my holidays to receive some free books – more of which anon – and a couple of rejections. Such is a writer’s life. You’d think you’d get used to it, but NO, each one takes a day or two to convalesce. During that time it’s like recovering from being dumped. You know how it is, you drag your feet, your heart is like a stone in your chest and you think you’ll never be able to met anyone else (or write another word).

It’s fair to say that you go through the various stages of grief.

Denial – No, not again. No, not having it. This is not happening to me! Is that addressed to me? Is it even my book? They’ve sent it to the wrong person surely. It’s a mix up. They read mine and loved it. Read another and hated it and then they mixed up the responses. Simples. I’ll just send them a polite enquiry. Hey, fuckwit, did you mean to send this to me?

And this leads nicely on to...

Anger – What do these people know? Feckin’ numpties. Couldn’t spot a potential hit if it had BESTSELLER written all over it. Halfwits the lot of ‘em. Bet they were the ones that turned down Rowling. Don’t they recognise I have the readability of King, the lyricism of James Lee Burke, the pace of Dan Brown, the insight of Freud? Can’t they SEE that, or are their heads so far up their own arses they need a torch just so they can brush their teeth? I’ll show them. I’ll fucking show them...

Which brings us rather neatly to...

Bargaining – Right, I’ll send them a letter. No, I’ll phone them. That will show them that I’m serious about my craft. The bastards. Ooops, slipping back into ANGER there. Calm. Breathe. No, better not phone them, sitting there in their fucking ivory towers with their double-barrelled names and their trust funds from mummy and daddy. Oops, with the anger again. Calm. Breathe.

No. I’ll write and ask them what I should do to improve. Ask what needs working on. Plot? Character? Pace? Setting? What else should I do? Should I get myself on TV, would that help? What if I was on I’m A Celebrity Get Me A Brain Cell, I bet that would get me a book deal? What if I shag somebody famous? I know, I’ll get a penis extension and they can film it for a documentary. Nah, not liking that idea. You should never allow a scalpel anywhere near your man junk. I’ll get a boob job. A wee wax and a D cup should do it.

Depression – I bet they wouldn’t go for the boob job. They’ll think it’s a bit lame. They’ll complain that writers are supposed to be hiding behind their desks, not hogging the lime-light. We’re all blushing violets with the marketing skills of a plank of wood and we should speak only when phoned up by The Times. Like that’s ever going to happen.

Why do I bother? Just set myself up for disappointment every time. I should realise I’m a fraud, a fake, a failure and I have all the talent of a pus-filled boil on David Cameron’s arse. (He has got feck all to do with writing, I like to have a go at him every now and again.) I’ll just go and cower under my quilt. I might pop out now and again, wearing baggy shorts, socks up to my knees and a vest that is more holes than vest to eat cornflakes straight from the box with a second course of a bucket of Hagen-Daz ice cream.

Acceptance – Well...that last one was maybe not good enough YET, but I can learn from it, no? I got in a lot of practise and I can read through it and see where it could be improved upon. The feedback from the publisher was a bit vague and contradicted the feedback from the last publisher, which means that really most of them know fuck all and they’re as clueless as the rest of us. Oh for chrissake there I go slipping into anger again.

No, I’m calm.

I’m one more NO closer to a YES. I just have to learn more and practise more and be even better than the guys and gals who are currently being published. My middle name is Nike and I can do it.

That is the accepted seven stages of grief. For writers we should then add another item...

Outrageous Optimism - Actually now that I’ve roused myself sufficiently to begin the next book and after having set aside the 2000 words I wrote a fortnight ago to settle and having just read over them I realise that I’m nothing short of a fucking literary genius. How can they possibly say no? I’m willing to bet my mortgage that EVERYBODY who sees this is going to love it. There’s going to be a bidding war. Publishers will be queuing up to offer ridiculous sums. I’ll knock Katie Price off the gossip mags and I’ve only got tiny tits. I’ll be in all the papers. ITV2 will want to film me as I sit at my desk pretending to blush like a violet. BRING ON THE WORLD. Play the trumpets. Let the lions roar.

The next work of creative brilliance is on its way.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The week after the week that was...

So after our exertions in Blackpool the wee man and I are having a quiet week.

Do you want to go out?


Fancy going to the movies, I ask him. I’m a wee bit huffed that he went to see The A-Team with his mum and trying to hide it.


How about we go down the beach?


He’s now wearing a face that suggests I’m an idiot several points north of his village.

Dad, when will you people realise I’m happy to just hang out at home?

You people? That would be me and your mum?


Are you going to get out of those pyjamas any time soon?

What time is it?

Three pm.

Cool, he grins, I’ve always wanted to have a day in my p.j’s.

This, to be fair works well with my cunning plan. Keep him entertained in a way that allows me to catch up on some writing. Nice one.

So yesterday I got torn into my latest book. It’s crime. It’s low-down, dirty and nasty and I’m loving it.

The wee fella came over to see what I was doing. And of course, on a page full of words he happened to see the one that spelled out F-U-C-K.

Daaad, I can’t believe you’re swearing in front of me.

That’s not me swearing, I say, it’s one of my characters.

He just looks at me - And who puts the words in their mouths?

That would be me, yes. But in this occasion his friend has been attacked and the swearing is justified.

So if I come home from school and my pal has been bullied I can say the f-word?

Not a chance, buddy, I say thinking, here we go another hour’s debate about swearing.

But you just did it, dad.

That wasn’t me...

I get it, it was your – he makes the speech comma sign with his fingers in the air – character.

Oh look, I point at the TV, Kim Kardashian’s not wearing very many clothes.

Oh – he says, she’s hot.

And I’m momentarily off the hook.