The Beeping B Word by Faye Milburn

The fact of the rant is: nowadays it seems people are using the B word wherever we go; from the playground, amongst strangers on buses, or even over tea with one’s grandparents. Appalled by the carelessness and frequency of use, I took it upon myself to conduct an experiment.

‘Your use of the B word offends me.’ A statement (delivered with Jack Dee levels of deadpan) the sadist in me has enjoyed uttering all too often recently. The face-crumpling, mind-searching terror that ensues on the part of the selected subject is astounding; their gaze writhing in embarrassment, averting mine and looking instead to the imaginary transcript of our recent conversational exchange. After a certain length of time has passed, they look to me with a reaffirmed sense of morality, and with an increasingly smug demeanour proceed to declare, ‘You must be mistaken, I uttered no such profanity.’ (Or usually something more reminiscent of ‘Whaa?! I didn’t even swear!’)

They are indeed correct in that they had chosen to refrain from expletives (or at least the ones they thought were in question) but the word that really riles me, incenses and alienates, is in fact… bored, or of course any derivative of or hint to the poisonous notion. It isn’t deemed as explicit, confined to a watershed or asterisked by the media but if I had my way it undoubtedly would be.

Feeling rather unusual as the only one I know who seems perturbed by its lurking presence in our daily lives and to avoid entering this rant ignorantly, I decided to undertake some research. After dusting off Ye Olde Wikipedia I came to find out its first recorded use was in fact in Charles Dickens’ novel, Bleak House. Now, I bet most B word offenders aren’t aware they’re quoting 19th Century literature as they loll lethargically, voicing their disinterest in the particular situation or conversation they find themselves in. I use the word offender for two reasons: firstly for the simple fact that, to me, they have indeed committed a crime with their grossly unnecessary use of the word, and secondly in that they actually do often offend and insult those they are sharing company with, knowingly or not. It seems ironic to me that it often appears to be the individual with little or nothing to add that chooses to utter the dreaded term instead of formulating something more interesting to say, instead sponging off the other counterparts and killing any remaining conversation when it becomes tiresome to them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m familiar with the meaning of dull. I endured GCSE Chemistry and would be justifiably deemed a bare-faced liar if I went any way to implying that ten-week stretch of lessons on esters was even near the most stimulating or enthralling of things I’ve embarked on in my seventeen years, but amidst the droning monotony of my grey-faced teacher, I sought to achieve something to prevent potential insanity. This task was decided to be committing as many chemical symbols of the Periodic Table (displayed massively on the wall I faced) to memory as possible, which has proven to be most useful in many a general knowledge quiz round since. Every cloud has an Ag lining…

Digression aside, and not meaning to sound like a cheesy, motivational, pep-talk-imparting life coach here, but is there really any reason for anyone to be ‘bored’? A part of me refuses to let go of the feeling that the whole concept is incredibly wasteful and unnecessary; a perpetuated myth perhaps, that is embraced due to its convenience. There are so many ways we can exercise our brains, we should be more alarmed by the rapidly ensuing lethargy of our collective grey matter, the fact that ‘boredom’ has become an unquestioned part of the average person’s daily life should be a sounding siren for the future of society, launching flares and waving a big red flag atop a flashing sign reading ‘DANGER! BRAINDEAD PUBLIC AWAITS.’ Many people seem to have forgotten the plethora of potentially aerobic pursuits out there, ranging from reading a book (perhaps Mr Dickens?), going to the cinema or even spewing rants on the internet…

I’m willing to bet my novelty coin collection that if we were to attach a penalty to the use of the term, such as ‘a B jar’, if you will, and a consequence was assigned to its usage, people would be far less inclined to share their disinterest with others, or may even think to rectify it themselves. It seems to me that if most people were asked to justify or explain their ‘boredom’ they would be dumbfounded, it has become a subconscious habit; a gap filler in conversations. It must stop! I propose that if we were to raise a generation with the terms erased from the vocabulary of every child, banished from classrooms and households the world over, the unknowing test subjects would be infinitely more resourceful and well-rounded individuals, or perhaps frustrated that there was no word to describe their predicament, though the idealist in me refuses to consider deeply the latter.

So, the next time you feel the B word about to leave your lips, think whether you’d really be able to justify it to a crazy anti-boredom warrior such as myself. If you couldn’t, don’t say it; simples.