Vic picked up a copy of the 'News of the world' from the rack and dropped it onto the counter, staring blearily through bloodshot eyes at the headline 'OMG, The Bishop's at it Again'.'Good grief Vic,
you look dreadful. What was it this time, Meatloaf or Smokey?''AC bloody DC Raj, at full volume into the early hours. Christ
Almighty!, how is anyone supposed to sleep through Hells Bells blasting out until the early hours?'Call the cops mate,
get the buggers locked up, that's what I'd do.'
'Waste of time Raj, they're either too busy or tell me to ring the Council. I ask you for Christ's sake, what are those useless buggers going to do; put their Council Tax up?'
Vic dropped coins into Raj's outstretched hand and was about to continue his tirade when he was suddenly aware of someone standing beside him.
'Give us a packet of Rizla mate will you, I'm in a hurry?' said a gangly
youth with long greasy hair, ripped jeans and a soiled tee shirt
sporting the logo 'Jesus H. Christ on a Bicycle'.
Raj flashed a knowing look at Vic as he quickly served the youth.
'Lordy, lordy! Is that one of them?' mocked Raj as the gangly vision disappeared into the street.
'Could be mate, they all look the bloody same to me. He looked a bit like Jesus and his bike could be outside, but I can't believe Jesus ever listened to AC/DC at two o'clock in the morning.'
The two friends chuckled as Raj dropped coins into his till and handed back change.
'Man-oh man! It never ceases to surprise me Vic, how you Christians can blaspheme so easily. In the Muslim faith such words would be inconceivable'
'It's called enlightenment mate, freedom of thought and the acceptance of freedom of thought. You have the right to think and say what you want and so do I; well that's the theory, not sure we're quite there yet.'
'It's always intrigued me to hear how your blasphemous words have crept slowly into daily use, getting more and more offensive over time.
When I was a boy and we moved to this country in the fifties I heard
people use expressions like 'my goodness', 'good heavens' or bless my
soul', but now much harsher blasphemy is common place.'
'I blame the Yanks mate. 'Holy crap', 'holy shit' and 'Gee' filled
my comics when I was younger and now TV and films are riddled with
the most appalling stuff possible. All down to the damn Yanks, like most of the decline in our standards.'
'Can you remember our lovely Miss Murphy at school Vic, she had that
soothing, lilting voice and she often used expressions like 'my
heavens', 'mercy me' and 'dear lord'? She was a kindly, gentle soul
and the worst language I ever heard from her was the day you smashed the classroom window with your catapult. Do you remember Vic, she was so startled she shouted out 'sweet Mary, mother of Christ'
and then clamped her hand across her mouth with embarrassment?
'Happy days Raj eh! How could I forget that? She sent me to the head, old Carter and that vicious old bugger said 'My word Victor, you've excelled yourself this time', and then just kept repeating the words 'Oh
dear, Oh dear' as he caned me across both hands.'
'For heaven's sake boys, is there any chance of getting served in here?' quipped Sandra Davies from number 27. 'I've been standing here listening to you two reminiscing for ages, but I'd like to pay my paper bill please Raj'
'Good gracious Sandra, of course you can,' replied Raj politely, 'Vic and I were just talking about blasphemy and declining standards.'
'I know you were boys, and I agree with everything you said, but I don't want to be late for chapel and I know what you two are like once you get going. By the way Vic, you look terrible. Aren't you getting enough sleep?'
The two men looked at each other and laughed.
Vic climbed into his car and set off through the quiet Sunday morning streets. His chat with his old mate Raj had cheered him up no end and he flicked on the car radio to be greeted by Buddy Holly singing 'Oh! Boy', one of his favourite songs. As he pulled up at the lights on Gracious Street he looked across at the old reform church that had just been converted into a nightclub and noticed the new name board across the door. 'Oh my dear God' he said out loud to himself, 'now we
have a nightclub called Gadzooks.'
As the lights changed, Vic reflected on how many synonyms he'd encountered that morning. At least twenty eight!