I've been off the F-word since January
Awork colleague, who is eight months pregnant, came to me on Monday with two stories.
She had been out shopping on Saturday and while queueing at the check-out desk the man in front of her, realising she was pregnant, offered her to go ahead of him. She was really impressed with his action.
A few days later she was attending an ante-natal clinic. There were no spare seats available so she was left standing. But she did notice that a young man was sitting down in one of the seats and she was surprised and even somewhat annoyed that he did not offer to give her his seat.
Manners are a funny sort of thing and from time-to-time the subject features on radio programmes and on letter pages. Earlier this year it featured on the Joe Duffy Show.
I can recall how my late father when he was old would often speak of incidents he experienced while travelling around Dublin by bus. Sometimes he would be greatly impressed with the kindness of passengers and bus drivers. On other occasions he would be saddened by their bad manners and rudeness.
It's funny how we can rub up people the wrong way or how we can be offended and annoyed by the actions of other people.
It's awful to see people fighting and shouting profanities on the street. And it is also horrible to hear and observe people taking part in that exercise we call road rage. Indeed, calling it road rage seems to gloss over the rudeness and vulgarity that is actually perpetrated. That ever-so elegant car and then those crude expletives. Being rude and vulgar is certainly not a prerogative of any one social class. Far from it.
How do you find the use of vulgar or bad language? Do you use it? When did you last use the F-word? Is it just a word or is it something more than that? Whatever it is, its use in Ireland now seems universal.
I never once heard my mother or father say the F-word. Over the years I found myself using it more and more. And the habit began to take hold.
I seldom if ever make New Year resolutions but last January I made a decision to stop saying the F-word. We're half way through the year now and the resolution is holding up well. I might say the word occasionally to myself but I never say it to another person or in anyone's company.
But what has struck me most of all during the year is how different the word now sounds since I have stopped using it. Even when close friends and colleagues say it, there seems to be something wrong about it. I have to say, I just don't like the sound of it any longer and actually would prefer not to hear it being said.
Does that sound a bit priggish? Maybe it does but so be it.
Is there a link between bad language and vulgar or rude behaviour? I don't have the answer to that one. Nor for a moment am I saying that people who never use bad language are consequently polite and well behaved.
I'd love to know if the man who offered my pregnant colleague his place in the queue uses bad language. And what about the chap who made no effort to give her his seat?
I'll never know. But surely there is something about crude and bad language that leads us down a road that looks rough and unpleasant.
Life can be difficult enough without all those profanities.