We grew up together. I knew him since I was 4 years old.
We used to sleep over at each other’s houses, sliding down the staircases in sleeping bags, keeping each other’s parents awake at night.
I never felt comfortable in his house though. Everything was too clean and tidy – not a thing out of place.
And he wasn’t allowed to say ‘God’. He got round this by saying Gaw’ instead (like Gawd – ‘Queen’s English’ pronunciation, but without the D). I remember the first time I heard him say it. I laughed out loud.
His mother (who I must say is a lovely lady, and still friends with my mother) didn’t let him say God, but Gaw’ was ok. Even though we all knew that the meaning was the same.
I was always afraid of his Mother as a child. She reminded me of Nurse Ratched.
The thing that bothered me the most about this vocabulary restriction that my friend was under – it sounded so contrived. As if, at the moment when he wanted to exclaim “Oh my God, the house is on fire!” or “Good God, I’ve never seen such a large carrot”, or “God Almighty is that really the time?”, he had to check his surprise / indignation / relief, and redirect his feeling into another direction. It was the censorship of expression that I found hard to swallow...