This one is another of those non-satisfying cuss words for me. Its alright for perky little Londoners off the telly, but I like something that I can get my teeth into. If my Raymond had had one too many pints of mild down at the rose and crown, and decided to relieve himself all over my hydrangeas when he gets home instead of coming inside and using the lavatory like anyone with any sense of decorum would. I want to be calling him a ruddy filthy so and so whilst I clout his ear holes, not messing about shouting “Gordon Bennett”
Then again, “Gordon Bennett” ought to be the very cuss word that would be appropriate in such circumstances.
The thing is, that in my experience, men just don’t have very much of a sense of decorum in the first place, and once they have had a drink or two, what little sense of Decorum that they had usually evaporates into thin air. This was certainly the case with the Gordon Bennett who gave his name to the cuss word.
This particular Gordon Bennet, was a newspaper mogul in 19th century America. He had inherited the New York Herald from his father, along with a few million dollars or so.
He made a few extra bob by getting exclusive stories from a bloke called Stanley who he sent to Africa to see if he could find Ken Livingstone, who had been lost in the jungle for ruddy ages. Everybody knows the famous line that Stanley said when he finally caught up with Red Ken… “Doctor Livingstone I presume?” Well Gordon Bennett had that line in his paper first and made a fortune out of merchandising it printed on tea towels, and china cups, and all the other nick-nacks and novelties that the used to like in America in the 1870s.
Any Road, he was so rich after that, that he felt as though he could do what he ruddy well wanted. So he used to go sailing around in yachts and things, getting drunk, chatting up pretty women, and smoking fat cigars.
He eventually got engaged to Caroline May, one of the pretty women he used to chase around. She came from a family that was probably even more wealthy than his, and infinitely posher. Her Father, Doctor William May, threw a huge party at the family Mansion, to celebrate the engagement. There were all the posh trimmings, including butlers wandering around the garden with silver platters of Ferrero Rochers, and chicken drumsticks, and butterfly buns, all the works! There were other butlers wandering around with bottles of vintage champagne and Emva Cream and all sorts to drink. Unfortunately, Gordon, being a bit of a demon for the drink, got completely sizzled, to the point where he could hardly walk staraight and didn’t really know where he was.
If he had gone for a lie down somewhere, or just called a taxi home, he might have go away with it. But ohh no. Not Gordon. He staggered into the drawing room, where his beautiful fiancée was chatting with her father and her brothers whilst her mother was playing some subtle background music on the grand piano.
Maybe he thought he had stumbled into a posh lavatory, or maybe he thought what he did next was a bit of a laugh, but no one laughed at all. He went to the open encd of the grand piano, took out his john Thomas and pissed into it. All over the strings, with everybody watching! Then he fell over and went to sleep on the floor, without adjusting his clothing!
The engagement was off. One of Caroline’s brothers challenged him to a duel, but that never came to anything. But he had to leave the country in disgrace.
So the original use of “Gordon Bennett” as a swearword was to mark an event which was shocking and embarrassing. A social Folk’s Pass as they say.
Some occasions where it might be appropriate to say “Gordon Bennett”
(i) When you trump loudly in company… “Gordon Bennett! It’s a bit windy out”
(ii) When you trump loudly in company and then realise that you have released a little solid material along with the gasses. “Gordon Bennett, I’ve followed through!”
(iii) When you trump loudly in company and some solid material rolls down your leg and lands on an expensive looking cream pile carpet. “Gordon Bennett! Somebody fetch the shake and vac”