You might not realise it, but you’ve recently been given the ick.

If you’re fortunate enough to spend plenty of time offline, you might be unfamiliar with that term. Essentially, ‘the ick’ is a feeling of repulsion caused by certain behaviour or mannerisms.

Open-mouthed chewing. Bad breath. Neil Oliver. All of these can give you the ick. It’s ‘the boak’, but gentrified. 

Me? I get the ick whenever I read the word ‘c**kwomble’. Or ‘w*nkpuffin’. Or any of the other twee compound nouns that combine a naughty sweary word with a lovable creature.

‘C**kwomble’ first appeared on in September 2004, but it only burst into the mainstream around six or seven years ago, being directed primarily at Brexiteers and Trump-types. Scottish football fans familiar with the SPFL’s chief executive, incidentally, will enjoy the May 2012 example, which reads: “Why that c**kwomble Neil Doncaster has sat on his a**e for so long is unbelievable”.

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It’s swearing for people who find swearing edgy. Insults for people who don’t really want to hurt anyone’s feelings. A £14.99 ‘KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON HATING TORIES’ tea towel.

I contracted a powerful case of the ick a few days ago. Writer Russ Jones is at the forefront of Twee Twitter (or Tweetter, since these guys are so fond of awkwardly jamming words together). He’s amassed 260,000 followers off the back of viral tweets listing shameful things Tories have done, all with an implied ‘what are they like?’ eye roll. 

He tweeted: “Can we do a riot now? Is this the time? I’ll pack sandwiches and bring a camping chair and silver blankets in case we’re outdoors all night. It will be a very British riot. There will be ironical placards, and instead of chanting we will just do highly organised tutting. Half of us will smash windows, and the other half will tidy up and leave apologetic notes.”

Read that out loud. Take your time with it. Do a riot? You might ‘do lunch’. You don’t ‘do a riot’. It’s not something you pencil in between two and four on a Sunday afternoon. 

A riot is a desperate, unpredictable response to subjugation, oppression, victimisation or brutalisation. It’s not Glasgow Uni students creating Instagram reels soundtracked by Lizzo’s About Damn Time with signs reading ‘AWAY AND BILE YER HEID BREXIT YA B*WBAG!’

Rioting isn’t supposed to be a fun day out. 

Yes, the tweet is a joke, but it’s the kind of joke that tells you a lot about the outlook of the person making it.

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For further confirmation, see Jones’ recent tweet suggesting that Sky Sports on TV is a sign of a ‘rough’ pub. Or don’t see it, because he deleted it and then insisted the backlash was due to football fans being uppity about someone not liking football, as opposed to people calling out what appeared to be an example of sneering classism. 

Between that and “apologetic notes”, this kind of precious, aggressively middle-class reaction to massive injustice and hardship reinforces the perception that politics is just a game to these people. They’re insulated from the worst of the consequences, so events and policies driving others into food banks are nothing more than fodder for rib-tickling wordplay. 

It plays on this fictional idea of British people as painfully polite and ‘oopsadaisy!’

Anyone who has worked a customer service job anywhere between John O’Groats and Land’s End will tell you the reality is very different. You might also hear fewer of those playful stereotypes in some of the countries Britain has colonised.

So, how to avoid these people? In public, they can be spotted wearing t-shirts with ‘Mumford & Sons’ or ‘I’m not the messiah - I’m a very naughty boy!’ written on them. Online, you can usually find them informing others that ‘you, sir, have won the internet today!’

Of course, the laziest thing for a columnist to do these days is take a tweet that’s made them angry and rant about it for 800 words, so with that in mind there are two things worth pointing out.

Firstly, those columns are usually headlined ‘The Campaign Of Hate That’s Forced Me To Leave Twitter For A Bit’ and written by high-profile, verified journalists who have been mildly disagreed with by someone with 140 followers.

Secondly, this column runs to 850 words.

Twitter is full of racists, transphobes and whatever variety of fool Neil Oliver decides to be this week.

There are worse groups on the platform than the Tweetters, and accounts like Jones’ aren’t entirely without worth. In a fragmented media landscape where young people aren’t routinely tuning in to the News at Ten or picking up newspapers, detailing the lies, failures, hypocrisy and corruption of the Tories for a sizeable audience is a worthwhile endeavour. 

Guys like him undermine that work, however, by packaging it as something we should be content to merely tut and create whimsical compact nouns about.

And, aside from anything else, their ‘c**kwomble’ patter is giving the rest of us the ick.

More of their twee nonsense and I’ll be forced to do a riot.