“I’m sorry, we started watching the film but just couldn’t carry on. There was too much effing and blinding in it,” my mother-in-law Judy explained. “It just wasn’t realistic. I don’t mind swearing if it’s in context but these were professional people.”
“Yes,” father-in-law John chipped in, “Professional people working in the City just don’t talk like that. It was gratuitous.”
They were talking about the Kevin Spacey film Margin Call about a 24 hour period at a City firm during the 2008 financial crisis.
“Er… I’m sorry but you’re wrong.” I spent 18 years working in the City in a previous life and had held a pretty senior position at a global, bulge bracket bank. “The language for much of the time was very colourful. Most people, me included, would swear every other word. It’s a macho, high adrenaline environment. People dropped the F- bomb all the time.”
Aging in-laws looked shocked.
A few days later it was my turn to be shocked. In Arun’s home to school book there was a mention that “Arun has been swearing in school. We have put him in a separate corner when he does this to calm him down.”
One of the things about Arun going to a school that focuses on learning difficulties rather than one that focuses on physical disabilities like he used to is that most of the children are verbal and he’s going to come across some industrial language. The problem with Arun is that, because of his learning difficulties and autism, he doesn’t always understand what is appropriate and what is not.
Now, despite not working in the City any more I can’t pretend to be a saint. My language can be a little fruity at times. However, we try hard never to swear in front of the children and never, ever, ever swear at the children.
A couple of days later I was getting Arun out of the bath.
“Come on out, “I said. “Time’s up.”
“No!” he said. “You **** off!”
Well. What should a father do? He doesn’t swear that often (every couple of months we hear a naughty word being used as an adjective) but he has never sworn at someone before. Previously we’ve ignored it – the logic being that if we make a thing of it, he’ll only be encouraged. However, I wasn’t prepared to ignore this.
I may be a hypocrite but Arun got a right royal telling off. He was sent to bed with a flea in his ear and as his lip quivered as he said, “good night daddy, I love you. Sorry daddy…” I think he got the idea.
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