FCUK & All That

Fcuk is almost a rude word but not quite, because a couple of letters are in a different order. There’s nothing new in the idea of making slight changes to a taboo word to make it more socially acceptable: our grandparents used to say flip for instance, or flipping heck, probably without even realising quite what they were saying. Even bloody was considered a bit strong back then, but it was OK to say ruddy, which rhymes with it and still refers to the same colour, or blooming, which starts off like it and still suggests a bit of a blush. Exclamations like “God!” or “Christ!” were considered as swearing, too – taking the Lord’s name in vain – so these were morphed into Gosh, or Golly, or Crikey. In time, this evolved into OMG. But none of these, as far as I know, ever became brand names.

FCUK actually has a meaning: it stands for French Connection UK. Forgive me for telling you something obvious, but this wasn’t always obvious to some of the teenagers I was teaching back in the 90s, who loved wearing FCUK tee-shirts to college because they had a rude word printed on the front in huge block capitals. Or almost a rude word, but not actually a rude word, so it wasn’t actually banned at college. For a while it had a certain shock value, or at least a certain snigger value, but over time as everyone got used to it, everyone stopped reacting to it at all. By the turn of the millennium, tee-shirts with almost-rude words on the front were getting phased out in favour of the new droopy-drawers fashion, with teenagers walking around with their trousers down instead. As before, nobody really took any notice. Or nearly nobody: there was at least one case I remember, widely reported in the press, of a judge sending a juror home for turning up for jury duty in a FCUK tee-shirt. Inappropriate attire I think he called it. I’m not sure how a judge might react to a jury sitting with their trousers round their ankles.

The original French Connection UK was of course the Norman Invasion of 1066. The Normans were essentially a bunch of renegade Frenchmen who discovered, or claimed to have discovered, something in the small print of the European regulations that gave them the right not only to live and work in the UK, but to actually rule the UK. In addition, their leader was called “William the Conqueror”, and with a name like that he obviously had to conquer something: and since “William” is clearly an English name, England was the obvious place for him to conquer. So the Normans all got on the ferry, and came over to Hastings. The people who lived here at the time were a mixture of Ancient Britons, better known as the Welsh, and the Old English, who were a mixture of Saxons and Vikings, mostly. Some of them were still loyal to the old Danish king, Cnut. So the two armies squared up to each other on the beach, one lot with FCUK on their tee-shirts, the other lot with CNUT. And the rest is History.


other articles by Mick Bruce:


on used cars       on musical taste      on fitted kitchens      on the Colne Blues Festival      on songwriting


other Natterjack articles                Natterjack poetry & fiction                 poetry by Mick Bruce 

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