Keep a civil tongue in your head

shutterstock_1291748551Even though corporal punishment wasn’t considered politically incorrect or even vaguely inappropriate when my sisters and I were growing up, our parents rarely used this method of discipline.  Unsurprisingly for a journalist, my father’s preferred form of reprimand was always language. As a teenager, when I argued with either parent Dad metred out sharp turns of phrase like, ‘Always wrong but never in doubt,’ or the classic King Lear line, ‘How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child’. But it’s his rebuke for answering back or being disrespectful, as teenagers are wont to be, that is stamped on my very being all these years later: ‘Keep a civil tongue in your head’.

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