The Slocomb Solution: how the media can avoid the ‘P’ word.

 “Today’s the day my pussy comes of age!”

–      Mrs. Slocomb

The newsrooms of North America — which are mostly vast empty spaces littered with empty desks and a handful of harried writers and editors — were presented with a predicament this week, thanks to the Amazing Colossal Mayor, Rob Ford.

On Thursday, Toronto mayor Ford made his single most inappropriate comment yet. And for a guy who has admitted to smoking crack and driving drunk, that says a lot.

Ford — who looks like a man who is quite literally ready to explode (and when he does, the fallout will be huge) — denied a charge that he made references to a female staff member’s … um …. OK, you know the rest. He ended by saying that he has plenty enough to eat at home, which was clearly unnecessary when you look at the guy’s size, but takes on a whole new meaning when connected to his previous sentence.

I’m sure you all know what was said, but I still feel inclined to (get ready to snicker) “pussyfoot” around the quote. It really was quite appalling that a married man would say something like this, even more appalling when that married man is the mayor of a major city, AND says it on live TV. (How bad was it? Well, when he said it, he was wearing a Toronto Argonauts jersey. The team distanced itself from Ford, basically saying that he was so crude that he offended the delicate sensibilities of football players!)

Canadian newsrooms faced a problem — how to quote the mayor, without quoting the mayor. The Edmonton Journal managed to avoid the quote completely, referring to “vulgar” remarks. The Toronto Star went the ‘p—y’ route. The Globe and Mail used it, but only deep in a story; if you could mumble in print, this is how you’d do it. CTV National News aired the full clip, but only after an incredibly sanctimonious and over-the-top set up by anchor Lisa LaFlamme. (Watch it here, and tell me if this is news, or commentary.)

You see the problem. But I have a way around this  … call it The Slocomb Solution.

The Slocomb Solution is based on the very old BBC comedy called Are You Being Served?

Are You Being Served? ran from 1972 to 1985 on BBC. It found a semi-permanent home on PBS, which is odd since Are You Being Served? specialized in the broadest, bawdiest British comedy. It’s actually quite hilarious, if you accept it for what it is. One of the main characters of the show, which was set in an old school British department store, was Mrs. Slocombe, a right old broad with a mountain of blue hair (pre-Marge Simpson). She had a running gag, wherein she mentioned her cat — or, as she said to guaranteed gales of laughter, her pussy. You can read a list of every pussy joke from Mrs. Slocombe, but to save you the trouble, here are a few samples:

–      “I ought to ring my neighbor and ask her to look in on my pussy.”

–      “They’re for my pussy…d’you know, it wins a prize every time I show it.”

–      “But then they spotted my pussy and were off.”

You get the idea. Not exactly sophisticated repartee, but it always got a good, British belly laugh, even after the 200th time. Still, about a thousand times better than anything on Two Broke Girls.

So, my proposal is to replace the offending word with ‘Mrs. Slocomb’. Perfectly clean, and almost clever. Sample headline: “Ford’s Mrs. Slocomb remark stuns city”. I understand that maybe only one person in a thousand would understand the reference, but it will be great fun for those who get it.

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