I find that English is simply not adequate for the concise expression of tremendous emotional or physical pain.

I have a PhD in swearing. When I bash my thumb with a hammer, only one word alleviates the agony and volume is an important part of the analgesic effect. When a fat, evil eyed heron took my favourite koi from the fish pond, I chased him off, shouting all of the words that I learned for my thesis. I asked my husband if he thought that the neighbours heard. He replied that there were startled faces twenty miles away, when that one drifted over.

I try not to resort to Anglo Saxon when gardening for other people. When I strimmed my toenails short in an uptight teacher’s back yard, I said “Oops.” The time that I slipped on sodden grass and threw a gallon of dirty, stinking pond water over myself, I wiped the duckweed from my face and said “Bother.” When I tripped over the extension lead and landed face first in the Vicar’s freshly manured vegetable patch, taking care not to open my mouth any wider than necessary, I mumbled “Blast.”

I use the scientific names for plants, since few will call me back for my pronunciation if I snap out a name with plenty of confidence. Nothing impresses the punters like a little Latin. Last job on a Friday, I was talking to a customer and naming the plants for her. Lysimachia punctata, Dryopteris felix mas, Acer palmatum dissectum atropurpureum.

She asked if I knew the fancy names of all of them. “Quite a few” I replied.

“What about the wild flowers?”

“I know the common names of most of them.” She points to a large clump of ground elder, which keeps defeating me, despite regular pogroms.

“What’s that one?”

“That” I said “is a bastard.”

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