A newspaper article the other day reported on a survey into the respective rudeness of swear words.

As a family publication we will spare you the details, but the survey found **** was more offensive than ****, but less so than ****, while **** is apparently more palatable than ****. All total ******** if you ask me because I thought **** was worse than **** and better than ****, but what the **** do I know?

Anyway, it wasn’t the survey’s findings that interested me about the story, but the picture the paper had used to illustrate it. It was a photo of somebody sitting in a car, looking furious. There was a fist wave and everything. Because, as we all know, nobody is as sweary as when they are in their car, right?

Right. The reasons are legion and well documented. In a car, you’re mixing with people you wouldn’t usually mix with. Complete randoms. Total strangers from different communities and they are, simply, interrupting you and your loved ones’ existences as they get in the way, fail to indicate, push in front of you in a queue, and so on and so forth.

Yes, sometimes you’ll be held up or people will get in your way in pedestrian life, too; in the supermarket, perhaps, or at a queue in the pub, but it’ll be your supermarket, your pub, just like it is theirs. You share values and, more important, eye contact with such people, and antagonisms are avoided. Plus there’s the vulnerability of not being in a tonne and a half of fairly well-insulated galvanised steel within which, obviously, nobody can hear you being rude.