Monday, May 24, 2010

A 'sporting parson' on good clean swearing and believing absolutely in the modern girl

Something found recently:




‘“Damn” and when to use it’ was discussed last night by Canon Ellis N. Gowing, the sporting parson of Southend, with an interviewer.

The Canon, who was dressed in flannels and blue and gold blazer, after a strenuous game of tennis, is an athletic, dark-haired, sunburnt man with a merry smile.

At a meeting of the Southend and District Referees’ Association he was reported to have said that ‘a good healthy “damn” is much better than a continuing grumble.’

Here are his views on swearing:--

  • All filthy language is to be deplored. ‘Damn’ is a clean word and a great relief.
  • Our language to-day is remarkably good.
  • The modern girl seldom swears.
  • Bad language is the result of a limited vocabulary.


‘If there is a healthy swear word it is certainly “damn,”’ said the Canon. ‘There is nothing unclean about it, and it is a favourite English word.

‘I think the language of England, as a whole, is remarkably good. On my holidays I always travel in mufti, and no one knows I am a parson.

‘I mix with people in various walks life, and it is very seldom that I hear anything to which exception can be taken.

‘At the present time our language is particularly clean. I do not think women swear more than they used to, now that they got to business and have greater freedom.

‘Perhaps some will say “damn” whereas before the war they would not have done so, I but I have never come across girls using bad language, and I have refereed at hockey matches for them and seen them get very hard knocks.

‘I believe absolutely in the modern girl, and I do not think her freedom has had a bad effect. There are, of course, extremists, but they are few and far between. Her enthusiasm is one of the finest things that could happen to her,’ said the Canon.


‘I always deprecate filthy language in any shape or form, and if a man wants to express himself forcibly it is far better to use a clean word than an unclean one.

‘Largely the reason why men swear is because of their limited vocabulary. Instead of saying a thing is a tremendously big job, they say it is a “damn big job.” There is no sense in educated people swearing.

‘I want football to be a game which women can watch. Football has reached a high standard, and we want to maintain that standard.

‘Every year at my church we have special football services, and the Southend United always attend.’

Canon Gowing is an old Rugby and Association player.

Reynolds's Illustrated News, 16 Sept 1928, p. 13.

Canon Gowing was also the author of The Story of Prittlewell Church and John Edwin Watts-Ditchfield First Bishop Of Chelmsford, but, not having a copy to hand, I can't say how often the word 'damn' appears in either of them.

In any case, wishing you all (and perhaps especially any modern girls in the audience) a damn fine day.

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