What Bob Hoskins Did for Me

by Jay Nordlinger

Kevin and I were talking about the term “lead-swinger,” which Michael Gove used in an interview with me. (I quoted the relevant passage in a post below.) He used another Britishism in this conversation: “poncy” (meaning “affected” or “pretentious”). Both of these terms were new to me.

When Bob Hoskins died a few days ago, I thought of something. In the mid-1980s, a friend and I went to see a movie called “Mona Lisa.” In it, the Hoskins character said, more than once, “F*** off.” This amused us no end. We had never heard the expression before. It was a gift from across the pond. We knew a thousand and one uses of the F-bomb (as the word was to be called many years later). But “F*** off” was brand-new. We said it to each other merrily for weeks.

In short order, I think, it became an entrenched part of the American vocabulary.

Please excuse this walk down Memory Lane — and the interrupting of the important deliberations of the Corner for vulgarity.

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