Firstly, sorry for this post.
Actually, this is the kind of thing that annoying hashtag #sorrynotsorry is for, I suppose. But sorry to those on my mailing list who may be looking at this at work, and also for those not keen on swearing. For you, I will leave a decency gap, and a little extract from Blackadder III’s “Ink and Incapability” that pretty much sums up my investigations for today. But it’s my birthday today so indulge me.
Samuel Johnson has just written his Dictionary and the Prince Regent has been looking up some words in it….
Samuel Johnson: So, ahem, tell me, sir, what words particularly interested you?
Prince Regent: Oh, er, nothing… Anything, really, you know…
Samuel Johnson: Ah, I see you’ve udnerlined a few (takes dictionary, reads): `bloomers’; `bottom’; `burp’; (turns a page) `fart’; `fiddle’; `fornicate’?
Prince Regent: Well…
Samuel Johnson: Sir! I hope you’re not using the first English dictionary to look up rude words!
Blackadder: I wouldn’t be too hopeful; that’s what all the other ones will be used for.
Yes, I’ve been looking up rude words in the British Newspaper Archive. Obviously, being newspapers, they aren’t chock-a-block with intentional swears. But there’s a few anachronistic words that appear in a non-sweary way, at the time. “Wanker” being one. Here’s a few clippings that made me giggle quite a lot.
Well, this is sad – an article about casualties from the First World War. But it’s livened up a bit by the fact that one of the casualties is called General Wanker von Dankenechweil.
Then there’s this proprietor of glasses in 1863 – “Wankers”. They are keen to help innkeepers provide the correct measures and avoid prosecution.
But, my favourite – this 1924 account of the trial of a Frenchman called Vaquier. He was accused of murdering a pub landlord by poison. Hopefully not because of his short measures.
He was unsuccessfully appealing his death sentence. His response – “I protest because I am French”.
It was revealed that the alias he used while buying the poison was “Wanker”. Whether this was because “Vaquier” isn’t a million miles away, or the fact that the landlord’s pub was called “The Blue Anchor”, or that he really just was openly proud to be a wanker, we’ll never know.
Best sub-header ever.