So …when is a “bastard” not a “bastard”? Well … a bastard is sometimes used in a disparaging way about a child born out of wedlock,for example. I say, sometimes , because , let’s face it , it has lost that emotive nastiness because there are many who get along quite nicely outside of wedlock  nowadays and would not consider their fine little offspring and issue of their loins,  as anything other than little darlings. To use the word “bastard”in that context , these days would be seen as ….improper , I would imagine. Well…that’s how I’d see it. I wouldn’t recognise the word as a swear word , of course.In the end words are only abstract  little bits and pieces of language .

Words are funny little things, grunted out in a variety of contexts by us little hairless apes, but when do they become obscene?To use the archaic term “bastard”now is to denote something other than illegitimate offspring. It is usually used to denote  someone with a crooked  and twisted agenda, or sometimes even in  a  humorous, gentle, curmudgeonly way . As in “You old bastard, you haven’t bought your round yet.”…between friends .

Rik Mayall’s wonderful Alan Beresford  B’stard in “the New Statesman” immediately springs to mind. Rik’s  creation , “B’stard” as portrayed  satirically in this attack on the Conservative Government of the time, was  portrayed as a selfish, greedy, dishonest, devious, lecherous, sadistic, ultra-right-wing Conservative .Now that’s what I’d like to think  a proper “bastard”  really was .So it’s a very malleable word, then. Why would anyone think of it as a swear word though? It’s only a word , yet Stephen Nolan had problems using it on the radio this morning, constantly calling it the “b” word, as though afraid of it . .

Apparently Gerry Adams used “bastard” in a vague reference to some of the bigots he has to deal with in everyday political  life. Well politics is bound to be full of people who could be described thus.You have to be a certain type of individual to play that game in the first place. .He spoke of “breaking these bastards” and said that “equality was the Trojan horse of the entire republican strategy”.In that respect  I think all the “bastards” really do need a level playing field. It’s only fair, isn’t it? All bastards equal under the law. I would imagine that these bigots would not have the self-perception to imagine themselves as bigots, in any case , never mind see themselves  as modern-day “bastards”.  I’m not sure that they actually know what bigotry is. There is not a lot of self-analysis evident anyway. I suppose it’s in much the same way that the DUP sees its annual  conference as the beginning of the pantomime  season, replete with  C list comedians that would have been rejected from even the most abysmal politically incorrect, bigoted and racist  1970s television sitcom. Politics always take second place at cack-handed attempts at broad comedy and we do live in a strange time-warp of the mind, trailing some forty years behind the UK.

Like I say , though , language is a funny grunting thing. There are many out there who  not only have problems with the Irish tongue .They positively do not want anything to do with it. Of course , they  also have certain difficulties and reservations  with the English language too….Or should that be Anglo-Saxon?

18 Responses to WHEN IS A BASTARD NOT A BASTARD? by Harry McAvinchey

  1. Anthony Leisegang November 25, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    Middle English: via Old French from medieval Latin bastardus, probably from bastum ‘packsaddle’; compare with Old French fils de bast, ‘packsaddle son’ (i.e. the son of a mule driver who uses a packsaddle for a pillow and is gone by morning).

    And from Wikepedia:
    A bastard (also called whoreson) in the law of England and Wales is a person whose parents were not married at the time of his or her birth, or indeed his or her conception. Should a married couple divorce, unlike in many other systems of law, there was previously no possibility of post factum legitimisation of a bastard. This situation was changed in 1926.

    Have fun! 🙂

    • paddykool November 25, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

      Yes, Anthony…”whoreson” has a certain ring to it , doesn’t ? A kind of outlaw frisson that might garner any amount of accolades in the right context.You can just imagine it being bandied about in conversation …”By god’s holey trousers, you are the bastard son of a whoreson…now get the drinks in you little ripper!!!”….maybe …..

  2. Perkin Warbeck November 25, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    One is reminded, Harry, of a story Brendan Behan used to tell involving himself and his oul fella, Stephen.

    The first time indeed he saw him, Stephen was in Mountjoy Jail for conduct unbecoming to the Free Southern Stateen. So his ma, Kathleen, mother of all the Behans, took young Brendan outside the prison walls, hoisted him up on her shoulders in order that Stephen could get a first gawk at his son who was then addicted to milk.

    Mention of shoulders, reminds one that it might be pointed out that Kathleen brother, Peadar Kearney was the lyricist for the National Anthem. No, not the one that features the barbarism of ‘shoulder to shoulder’. The other one.

    Later on, when Brendan was a schoolboy, Stephen took him for a walk. On hearing somebody refer to another person as a d-word, Brendan asked him what was a d-word and how did it differ from the b-word.

    Stephen puffed his briarpipe, thought for a moment, took the pipe from his mouth, expectorated mightily on the gollier-carpeted ground, and answered:

    -Son, if you’re a bastard, you can claim no credit at all for that, But, if you’re a dastard, by J., you really have to work hard to become one.

    (PS It was never specified where this father and son reunion walk took place. But one suspects it must have somewhere in the leafy suburbs of D4. A lot of the d-words do dwell therein.)

    • paddykool November 25, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

      Lovely contribution oh mighty Perk .I take it the “J” referred to by pere Behan was the Jaysus of Bejaysus fame ?

      • Perkin Warbeck November 26, 2014 at 6:54 am #

        GRMA, Paddycool.

        Given the fact that the Free Southern Stateen has relapsed into a particularly virulent strain of Section 31-ola, compelling one to attach a rear-view mirror to one’s laptop, one is confident you will understand if one is wary of commenting on certain B-words.

        Though one is still quite free in the FSS to use certain B-words with impunity. Like, for instance, Backbencher.

        He was the celebrated Fifth Columnist of the Fourth Estate in the gated burb known as The Unionist Times. His most enduring contribution to the lexicon of politics was…..’snaking regarder’.

        Used exclusively given the provenance of his paymasters, with regard to those pub Republicans who sang songs from the Og songbook. Og of course being short for Oglaigh na hEireann aka Older Gershwin bro.

        So enduring indeed that ‘snaking regarder’ has not been heard since Backbencher’s sad and untimely departure from this Vale of Tears.

        With all due respect and attendant modesty, Perkie would like to reintroduce the old coinage into the currency of contemporary discourse.

        As in, D4 is the DUB burb of choice of those d-words who are snaking regarders of the DUP.

        Not at all to be confused with Drimnagh, location of Benburb Road, which is in D12. Different planet entirely.

        Beir beannacht !

  3. ANOTHER JUDE November 25, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

    Considering the people Gerry is referring to his choice of word is rather mild in my opinion. Maybe he was thinking of the film, In Glorious (Twelfth) Basterds?

    • William Fay November 25, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

      “The point is to actually break these bastards”, and he is referring to Unionists, and it is immaterial if he is talking about Unionists in general or a section of Unionism. This is not the first time that the bearded one’s mask has slipped, I could quote from his previous rhetoric on a number of occasions where his bigotry has shone through. Many on this blog, including Jude were quick to condemn Gregory Campbell, I think the cliche is, I am deafened by the silence in relation to GA.

      • Jude Collins November 25, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

        So you’d be against trying to break inequality then, sweet William. Mmmm…

    • pretzellogic November 25, 2014 at 8:54 pm #

      Maybe he was talking about orange bastards right’n’nuff. Well you were anyway, but at least it’s a change from Peter Robinson’s thing for sunglasses in foul weather. You’ll be laughin ok when they nail Gerry’s tongue to a post outside Leinster Hse.

      I wondered about that unfinished post from Norma the other day. Didn’t know whether she had been censored or she just despaired mid-post. Did you censor her then? Some great stuff gets in under the radar here, so it must have been bad or very good….I pinched your nailed tongue line. mea culpa

      • Jude Collins November 25, 2014 at 9:27 pm #

        Yes, I dumped a post that was 100% insult. Not having that.

  4. michael c November 25, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

    Perkin,Brendan must have recalled his father’s teachings when he famously said : “All policemen are dastards” !

  5. William Fay November 25, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

    Harry, to justify GAs comments in such a flippant and lighthearted way does yourself a disservice. Shame on you, it seems the real Harry is coming through, in the same way as GA.

    • paddykool November 25, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

      William …I will make no apologies to your good self… To the Crooked Mouth or to Mr Adams or any other of these political figures for having my own personal opinion.I call it as I see it .Gerry Adams may have been a little cack-handed in a loose conversational situation but that doesn’t take away one iota of the truth of what he was attempting to say in plain language that will not shock anyone with a grain of logical sense. I am not remotely shocked by his choice of words.The word describes perfectly the kind of twisted misogynistic, racist , homophobic bigot that is anathema to anyone with a functioning brain.I make no apologies in siding with that viewpoint in face of the easy asinine response of unionist politicians ….especially when they colluded with Mr Crooked Mouth’s recent awful performance.These people have no love for the laws that are dear to everyone else in the UK anD Ireland……and the rest of the world , whose views I actually respect..No apologies to bigotry and racism then…William…Noapologies to homophobes or small-mindedness either.No apologies to tiny …tiny minds either…those kind of people deserve the sobriquet. …”bastards”…they insult us…

  6. ANOTHER JUDE November 25, 2014 at 11:47 pm #

    Things are pretty bad at the moment but at least it`s a lot better than it was. If we cast our minds back to the days of shootings, internment, and bombings and reflect on those poor unfortunates who were really no better than us but who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, having to look at Gregory and his yogurt pot doesn`t seem so bad. Now if we could only just stop bringing up stuff from before the ceasefire, we might give the young people a chance The fact of the matter is, the war is over.

  7. Freddy Mallins November 26, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    William, I respectfully agree with PK. I think you have chosen to throw the baby out with the bath water. Set aside for one minute GAs crass word choice and focus on the issues of inequality, homophobia, islamophobia, religious hatred and racism. It behoves us all surely to address these fundamental wrongs, rather than mere lazy terminology.

    • Anthony Leisegang November 26, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

      I tend to agree, Freddy.
      Paucity of expression when several accurate terms are readily to hand.
      Bastard of a ward, bastard. Rather weak, if you ask me …

      • Randall Stephen Hall November 27, 2014 at 8:36 am #

        I suppose self perception should come with the shaving mirror. Most of these guys shave don’t they? Self analysis seems to be beyond them, sadly. Local politics has no time for doubt, humanity or imagination. The vision of a bright shared
        future, still exists, out there . . . in the minds of the public, but not these politicians. Like bull seals, they guard their ground well. Only able to move in their own sea of politics. (Honk!) . . .

        • paddykool November 27, 2014 at 6:46 pm #

          Honk …indeed RSH,…!