So, it’s come to this. The managers of Fuckoffee coffee shop in Bermondsey have pissed off the building’s owners and been ordered to bloody well take down the offending arsehole signage, straight-a-cocking-way. The shop posted the letter received from their landlord on their Twitter feed, with the note ‘No humour please, we’re British’.
No humour please, we're British. pic.twitter.com/P1U9VhAEho— Fuckoffee (@fuck0ffee) October 21, 2015
This – I reckon – is a shame. Especially as creative swearing feels like a very British pastime – up there with birdwatching or whittling things in sheds. Outside of the football terraces or the fighty streets of Saturday night, inserting dirty words into otherwise clean subject matter is about as fun, and as offensive, as an episode of ‘Countdown’ that goes a bit awry. One where Rachel Riley ends up spelling ‘TITMONGER’, for example.
Perhaps the objection arrives on the grounds of general, public-spirited decency? Kids could see the sign. People who don’t appreciate the word ‘fuck’ could see the sign. And then… er… something terrible will happen. Right? Or maybe not? Surely those kids have to know the F-word before they get the joke? Surely those faint-hearted souls who might complain can’t be too unnerved, given that – if we’re being honest – they’re probably the same people tutting over Daily Mail galleries of ‘Towie’ celebs with their cleavage hanging out?
And, when all’s said and done, this is London, where – to be blunt – we’re all really fucking blunt. Whether or not you think ‘Fuckoffee’ is a good name for a coffee shop, it feels like the logical extension of our taste for giving services uncompromisingly blatant names. Habitat. Eat. Drink, Shop & Do. How about Goodge Street diner Squat & Gobble for a squeamishly realistic description of what goes on inside? Like calling a brothel Sweat & Sadness, or a betting shop Scant Hope for the Desperate, Fuckoffee speaks to the grand London tradition of No Bullshit, leaving me fully prepared for a surly barista to hand over a £3.50 flat white like it’s God’s gift to mankind.
I’m sure there are a few restaurants out there that would have loved to have pushed things further; hipster joints that rejected names like Eat Your Fucking Greaseball and Don’t Complain About the Noise before settling on something like Meat Liquor. Added to which, I expect there’d be a promotional benefit to being The British Fucking Museum or Tate Bastard Modern. You simply can’t afford not to go – it’s Tate Bastard Modern!
Ultimately this boils down a difference of opinion over what it’s appropriate to display on London’s streets. But in a city where phallic skyscrapers rupture the skyline in an infinitely more bravura display of ‘fuck off’ than one tiny coffee shop, this episode feels very quaint indeed. Just like that one ‘Countdown’, that time.
Want more ranting and raving? Read Sophie Wilkinson's column on why we should enjoy London for its boneheaded obviousness.