BOXING THE JESUIT
So I got back to my editor at the publishers and said about this vulgarity business, may I run a few new words by you?
And she said 'what do you mean, new?'
And I said well, you know you said a lot of women readers won't like me using twat, what if I call it a doodle sock instead?
'No', she said.
How about a cock alley? I said.
'No, still too vulgar and you're making them up'.
I said no I wasn't, these were actual English alternatives from an official dictionary published in 1785 and how did she feel about 'box the Jesuit'? 'What's that?' she said and I explained it was wanking and she put the phone down.
So I called back and said you know you don't like me calling Susie [the hero's adulterous wife] a cheating fucking bitch, how does 'she's a buttered bun' sit with you? And while we're on the subject, may I call her mouth 'a bone box'?
She tutted huffily and I said oh, come on, these are much better words, let's reintroduce the 18th Century to contemporary popular culture.
For instance, I argued, don't you think that a bum brusher is a much better phrase for a schoolmaster? No, she said, she did not.
What about fart catcher, I said. 'What's a fart-catcher?' she said and I said it's what 1785 England used to call the personal assistant of anyone famous, because they walked so close behind their boss, and she said 'that's ridiculous' and I said, well actually, in my experi….but then I thought better of that.
And then she said 'look here, times have changed and our authors must be far more politically correct these days' and I said did that mean I couldn't use Irish beauty to mean a woman with two black eyes? Or a scratchlander to mean a Scotsman?
'I'm Scottish' she said and she didn't have time for all this now as she had to go to the hairdresser. You mean the nit-squeezer I said and she hasn't phoned me back yet.