Here’s an idea that will never kick on but makes perfect sense. It’s one quick way to clean up the language on all construction and mining sites.
If you’ve ever been on one, you know that these are places where most words have been replaced with swear words, and they’re not just meant as insults.
I spent about six months as a FIFO worker, as well as several years in the construction industry, and found that the swearing could replace any word and even be used for punctuation, and was often quite poetic, clear and succinct.
After writing down a lot of the sentences I heard, I separated out the syllables and found that a surprising amount of the expletive laden speech fit classic Shakespearean iambic pentameter. Which is regarded by many as one of the finest vocal rhythms around.
There is one situation where the workers attempt to cut back on the swearing onsite, and that’s around any women. Most of them men don’t actually swear any less, they just apologise after each expletive, so every sentence takes around five times as long.
I’m not even sure why the men bother, because in my experience, the women onsite swear just as much as they do.
With all the cursing flying around, the expletives become so overused that they lose their impact, and as a result the most offensive word onsite is no longer an expletive. It’s the word ‘mate’.
It’s only ever friendly if someone is using it to describe their relationship with you to someone else.
‘That Xavier bloke? He’s a good mate of mine.’ (Said nobody ever.)
If used directly at you, it’s never friendly. Its sits somewhere on a spectrum from sarcastic to hostile to, ‘One more word and I’ll punch your stupid bloody head in. Mate.’
So the day the idea of replacing all the swear words occurred to me, I was out on the mining site and a co-worker exploded through the office door and unleashed one of the most entertaining, poetic and extraordinary pieces of swearing I’d ever heard.
It was mostly variations on the f-word or the c-word, used every which way, and dotted with the odd alternative. Problem was, most of it was way too offensive to every repeat.
Which lead me to coming up with the following workaround.
So are you familiar with the Smurfs? I am. I could tell you how Smurfette came to be, under what conditions a Smurf is born, and the age of Papa Smurf, in Smurf years. Anyway, they’re known for replacing most words with the word ‘smurf’. So that’s what I’m going to substitute in for the swearing.
Let’s call the guy who delivered the tirade Paul, because that’s his name. So Paul exploded into the office and said, ‘Where the smurf is Jonno?’
‘I haven’t seen him sorry,’ I replied.
Paul then said:
‘That smurfing machine out there nearly took off my smurfing smurf and now all the smurf I’ve been smurfing for the last smurf is completely smurfed.
That stinking smurf of a smurf Jokka couldn’t smurf a smurf into a smurf if his stupid smurfing smurf depended on it.
Tell smurfing Jonno to fire that smurf, before I smurfing smurf him into smurfland. For good.
And what the smurf do you do in here all day anyway, you lazy little smurf?
You sit in here in the air-conditioning doing smurf all. Don’t you? I swear, you’re the laziest smurf to every smurf out of a smurf’s smurf in all of smurf.
While I’m out there in the heat sweating smurf out of my smurf onto my smurf, and it’s smurfed.
Once this smurfing day is done, I’ll tell you what I’m going to smurfing do?
I’m going to smurf back to the smurfing campsite and light up a smurfing smoke and open a smurfing can.
Then I’m going to lock my smurfing door, and open up my smurfing laptop, and I’m going to put on some of the dirtiest smurf in all of smurf.
And I haven’t had a decent smurf in smurf, so I’m going to smurf myself like I haven’t been smurfed in smurf. And there’s going to be smurf everywhere.
And my sheets are going to be like smurfing concrete. It’s going to be smurfy.’
Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.
This bit of whatever was adapted from his second comedy memoir ‘Going Out of My Mined’.
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