Sunday, 31 May 2009

Compulsory Disorders can be Fun

Did anyone solve the BBC’s online news’ question yesterday : whatever happened to the Boy who couldn’t stop Swearing? Simple - he grew up into the Man who couldn’t stop Swearing.

Yes, twenty years ago this week chronic Coprolalia sufferer Freddie Foulgob became the face of Tourette’s Syndrome across Britain when a BBC QED documentary about his daily battles with the illness became a national gossip topic.

His involuntary cussing made him an unlikely overnight star, but how has he coped with life since? Well, Freddie claims it’s an affliction he swears by – no pun intended.

When Freddie Foulgob sat down to watch the BBC's QED documentary programme about his condition, “Freddie’s a Loonie”, in 1989, he was a lonely 16-year-old boy with such a severe Tourette’s Syndrome condition that he was too scared to venture outside and tell passers-by to ‘fuck off’ so he stayed indoors and screamed strings of swear words at the cat and budgie - and his stone-deaf Granny.

Viewers of the documentary saw how his uncontrollable foul-mouthed outbursts and violent body spasms denied him a normal life. Some people in his hometown of Smegmadale crossed the road to avoid him and told their children not to play with ‘nutty Freddie’.

But the next day, as he stepped out on to the street to nervously assess reaction to the programme, the same people he had been too embarrassed to face were stopping him just to be insulted and sworn at in person. Some even apologised for not swearing back sooner.

"It was a total fuckin’ transformation overnight an’ me fuckin’ life became so much effin’ easier," says Freddie, now 45 and casting his mind back 30 years to the day his life started afresh. Few lives can have been so transformed by an hour-long television documentary - unless it's about MP's dodgy expenses.

Freddie commenced a daily ritual each morning of washing his mouth out with carbolic soap to help cut down on his verbal vulgarities and took up his education from where he left off after getting thrown out of Sunday School - aged six - for calling the vicar a ‘dog-wanker’ and a 'paedo bumboy'.

"I started to make friends with other Tourette’s sufferers and we started our own football team – the Smegmadale Shitbags. There were a few early problems with the referee’s until we found a ref’ who suffered from Tourette’s also, so then we could eff’ and blind’ at each other no fuckin’ probs – without getting a red card.”

Freddie qualified from Smegmadale University with master’s degrees in the Profanities and in Fluid Dynamics, which led to his employment as a botanical companion hydrator at a local garden centre where he’s worked for the past twenty years.

“The day I was awarded my sheepskins it was like I had proved to people that I wasn't mad and I wasn't a freak.”
“I’d become someone who I'd always wanted to be - a normal foul-mouthed yob. I was so happy I ran home and told me Mum and Dad to fuck off.”

Conversely while society has generally become more informed about the condition, Freddie believes the QED programme inadvertently helped foster a misconception that Tourette Syndrome is about swearing (coprolalia) although this affects only one in ten people with the illness.

Freddie's condition encompasses a whole range of other symptoms, such as echolalia, which is repeating others' words, and sudden, violent body movements.

He has a severe form of obsessive compulsive disorder which he says fucks him up like a soup sandwich. He feels he has to walk on pavement cracks with his right foot and touch lamp-posts with his left hand, and gets up six times a night to check the budgie and hamster cages are locked.

There's an invisible side to the condition also. Freddie was constantly resisting bizarre destructive urges that haunted his thoughts. It could be to throw a pint of Stella Headbanger lager over the landlady in the pub if it tasted like shit, or stick the boot through the television screen when X Factor or Big Brother came on, and beat his local council officials to death every time he goes to the Town Hall to pay his council tax.

However once a clinical psychologist specialising in Tourette’s informed Freddie that each of his urges were quite normal and affected everyone the same, it made them easier to live with – even though normal people resisted carrying their urges out.

Do you ever get the urge to set fire to some large public building? Do you ever fancy going postal and walking into work with a pump action 12 gauge under your arm and blasting away the secretary with the botox tits and chronic halitosis?

Do you ever feel like kicking in your boss’s office door and telling him to go and fuck a pig – then peppering the twat with #4 shot?
For a stress-free lifestyle, don’t even think about it twice – just do it.

For further information on the intricacies of Tourette’s Syndrome visit Freddie’s website at