‘Lewdness and bad language in creative writing’
by Harry Riley
This is a thorny issue and has got a lot of good writers in trouble in the past. There are so many conflicting views on the subject and now that official censorship has been abandoned it is up to the individual to choose his or her own course. It may depend on the market they are aiming for, or as in my case, based on their own moral convictions. I grew up in an age when a man would not swear in front of a woman and a simple blasphemy like Bloody-Hell was frowned upon. Flipping Heck and Flopping-Heck were preferred alternatives. D.H. Lawrence got into bother and was ostracized with his sexual descriptions that today many folk would think laughable. I taught my kids that foul language belonged in the gutter and should not be brought into the home and I still believe in that principle. There are though, people who break all the rules, who can use the most extreme expletives and still get away with it, whilst others would be severely castigated. One such person who springs to mind is the comedian Billy Connolly. He has such a mischievous way with his performance that millions adore his comedy-genius in spite of his lewd behaviour and outrageous language on stage.
My formative years were spent in a pleasant but straight-laced Methodist community; leaving a deep impression and a moralistic outlook. The England I now inhabit is not the England grew up in. That environment has gone forever along with many of its core values. It is no use bemoaning this fact, we all have to move on, adapt and change or become extinct like the Dinosaur.A writer though, has to remain loyal to his own values. If he can do that and live with himself he shouldn’t have to worry too much about what others may think. With D.H. Lawrence possibly his own natural talent got the better of him. As he unlocked the door to creativity, maybe he found himself, like his namesake: Lawrence of Arabia; caught up on the tail of a whirlwind and blown right into the eye of the storm; unconventional trailblazers; years ahead of their time; both being blessed with the spirit of intellectual genius. They didn’t follow public opinion but instead, showed us another way to travel, if only we had eyes to see. All around me I see the influence of American culture and wonder if we have truly become a satellite state. As we grow older it is often said the father becomes the child of his offspring. So maybe it is the same with great States, The Pilgrim Fathers set off from England to export our culture to a foreign land and now it seems the wheel has turned full circle, we have been swallowed up by the culture of America.