28 February 2005

February

I noticed a huge reduction in the number of swear words I uttered in February. I suspect that this is entirely due to becoming accustomed to the teething problems of the project which I outlined in the January diary entry. I felt more at ease with the project in February; my swearing appeared to have stabilised to the point where it rarely ever happened.

No Show...

On 6th February, the Swear Box was due to be premiered at the Trampoline new media showcase event in Nottingham. Up until the day before there had not yet been a single swear word uttered in February. I began to get anxious. I thought that if the viewers could not see any February swear words in the Swear Box then they would not be convinced that the box was live and up-to-date entity - could they possibly believe that I hadn’t sworn in 6 days? Similarly the February swear words were to be a different colour (dark blue) if there weren’t any in the Swear Box then the viewers wouldn’t be able to observe the monthly colour system in use. They might assume that I had just chosen to make all the swears purple because I like the colour and that would be a complete misrepresentation.

Fortunately the day before Trampoline was particularly frustrating as we attempted to set up the live web-stream link to Berlin for the event. Eventually a swear word arose; it is very difficult to tell whether it was naturally occurring or partially intentional, either way it was certainly valid to the occasion! Later in the day another swear word occurred which was definitely not forced…

Impersonations...

I found myself doing an impression of Condoleeza Rice and mentioned the word ‘arse’ in the sentence ‘you better watch your arse when I become President!’. I have found that I often swear without noticing when doing impressions of people. This must be something to do with getting carried away with the moment. I worry about how my impressions will be perceived when they are read in the Swear Box, as they are not things that I would say or think and do not represent my opinions.

Embarrassment...

On 13th February I again became worried about how some of the sentences floating around in the Swear Box would be perceived. After I had drunk half a bottle of wine I became acutely embarrassed about some of the things that slipped out in conversation and I immediately thought about how people would judge me if they read them. I regretted mockingly saying ‘bloody dole bludgers’ after seeing a report on the news that the only people better off under the Labour government were couples who did not work. I thought that saying things like this could give the impression that I was a hideous Daily Mail reading bigot and that is not the sort of impression I want to convey!

Lonely...

From 20th – 24th February Jon was away in New York and I spent most of the days in the flat on my own. During this period I hardly even spoke let alone swore, it felt as though I might never swear again...

Holiday...

For the last few days in February I had a complete change of scene and was once again faced with several social situations. From 25th February – 6th March I went on holiday to Les Arcs in France to go snowboarding with my sister and her friends. On several occasions on the slopes, when I was on the verge of a disastrous collision it seemed completely natural to scream at the top of my voice, but something held me back… I didn’t want to swear because I was so in-the-middle-of-nowhere and so far away from my notebook that it would have been near impossible to record it.

Only on my third day in the mountains did a swear word finally slip out – ‘shit!’. Fortunately it was a pretty easy one to remember as it was a pure exclamation and not routed in any sentence. It was not a highly audible utterance and was so under-my-breath that I doubt whether any other living creature heard it, least of all the skier who it was aimed at.

In February a really low number of swear words were recorded (only nine) compared with January (forty-eight). I had hoped to intensively trial my new swear recording method of using the ‘voice memo’ facility built into my mobile phone. Unfortunately I was not really given enough opportunities to use it. This was partly due to the low number of swear words uttered but also the particular locations in which they occurred.

At the start of the month, it was not necessary to use the ‘voice memo’ device as the majority of swear words were uttered whilst I was at home and so were recorded directly using the old method of the notebook. The other swear words happened whilst I was on holiday in France … Whilst snowboarding I was not able to carry the ‘voice memo’ device with me on the slopes because I didn’t want to risk breaking it if I landed on it. I also found it very fiddly getting small things out of my pockets in –20°C with two pairs of gloves on. If I had taken my pen and notebook up the mountain instead, it would certainly have got soggy and damaged, so for these few days all swear words had to be recorded purely by memory and then written into the notebook later in the day.

I really hope to trial the new recording device in March and to truly attempt to capture the spontaneity of real life language. I think things will be easier when life has returned to normal, when I’ve finished my holiday and I'm back in England.

March Swear Diary >