NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS

shakespeare much_ado

It’s been a wonderful week for the eloquence , depth and complexity of usage of the English language .

“Never mind the bollocks. Here’s the Sex Pistols!” That was the title of the  rock band the Sex Pistols’ long playing vinyl record away back in the the 1970s . It crashed into the complacency of the music business  some forty years ago and blew new rock ‘n’ roll life into  the pink blandness of a stale and otherwise socially- strapped UK. It was a retort to dullness, powerlessness, po-facedness  and three-day weeks .Posters and adverts  for the record were emblazoned across the land. That caused a bit of a kerfuffle behind gasping net curtains. There was a resulting court case and it was finally deemed that the word “bollocks” was not, in fact ,an obscenity.Of course it wasn’t .Obscenity is all in the mind.

“Bollocks”.. Now that’s a great old word isn’t it?Take a good look at it as it sits on the page .It’s sort of round and full with a wee sharp  kick in the tail. It’s been a wonderful week for the English language , hasn’t it? . In the news media  “bastards” and “bollocks” has been flying about like gulls at the seaside. Sinn Fein members , the sometimes ,most prominent , Northern Irish custodians of all thing Gaelic and Irish, are better at the usage of these emotive old Anglo-Saxon words and phrases than anyone else in public life here .Every bit as English as the English themselves, eh?. Isn’t that one for the books? We’ve had Gerry Adams referring to some racists and bigots hidden in the rump of unionism as “bastards” …..in conversation. At the same gathering, Michelle Gildernew has been reported as calling Gregory “Crooked Mouth ” Campbell {Cam Beal} a “bollocks”…..or possibly a “bollix”.?

I’ve seen the word spelt as “bollix” or “ballicks”, before now ,so what is it’s true meaning, then? A journalist has even said on radio just now that is a “swear word”.. I had to scratch my head at that one . A few days ago they were calling “bastard” a swear word too.Have these people been living under a rock all their lives ? Have they never read anything? Are they alive in the real world where these words are readily bandied about in conversation, in film , literature and the theatre …among consenting adults? I dare say , if you went to the pub for a pint or the barber for a trim , you’d overhear these words on any given day.

“Bollocks”has its origins in Anglo-Saxon as a term for”testicles”.Half the population may be  so endowed  but that is only half the story. The word is  also often used in English to denote  nonsense or to refer to  a non-sensible  person or thing;  or as  an expletive when you thump your thumb with a hammer while banging in a nail.It’s been used as a term  for a useless person or a foolish one. “That’s a load of old bollocks”  is used as a term  to denote the uselessness or inappropriateness of a situation or a performance.. English people will also  say  that  something is “the dog’s bollocks”, as a term of respect or to denote the high quality of something.A very malleable word then.

It might have its origins in the   13th century because one   of the earliest written references appears in   John Wycliffe bible (1382), Leviticus xxii, 24: “Al beeste, that … kitt and taken a wey the ballokes is, ye shulen not offre to the Lord…” (any beast that is cut and taken away the bollocks, you shall not offer to the Lord, i.e. castrated animals are not suitable as sacrifices).

In the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, bollocks or ballocks was sometimes  used as a slang term for a clergyman because clergymen were notorious for talking nonsense during sermons.

It has been used as “ball-licks “to denigrate someone to the level of a hound licking its own  cojones under its master’s table .A lowly person in that respect.

People, of course, are very funny about the sounds that pop out of their mouths and words can so easily change their meaning by circumstances, age , place in time  and even inflexion.”Balls” is a funny one for example, even though the word describes the spherical objects   used in a lot of sporting games. The common name Jesus or Dick are other ones .Even “bloody” can cause some people problems.

As I write , the Plebgate Scandal has reached its conclusion and Andrew Mitchell , the Westminster minister has been convicted of accusing some policemen of being “fucking plebs”.  No real offence was taken by the descriptive verb “fucking”, but great exception was taken to the appellation”plebs”.

As Shakespeare might have put it,  the verb is simply describing the ease or otherwise as to how us “rude mechanicals” are able to stand on our  own two little legs and emote in the first place . It is the very act that made us  all. It’s a good thing Mr Mitchell didn’t call these policemen  “peelers”, “cops” or…… “rude mechanicals”

Crikey!!!! I can’t wait to see what revelations and absurdities next week will bring.

“My mistress with a monster is in love.

Near to her close and consecrated bower,

While she was in her dull and sleeping hour,

A crew of patches, rude mechanicals

That work for bread upon Athenian stalls,

Were met together to rehearse a play

Intended for great Theseus’ nuptial day.”…….William Shakespeare

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