George Melly

Like many of my profession, I tend to almost subconsciously collect great courtroom moments. I was reminded of one such when reading an obituary of George Melly. Melly was a jazz musician, author and libertarian (although, given that libertarianism has since become little more than a wish by the well-off not to have to clean up after themselves, I think libertine is probably a better description). He was called as an expert witness when, in 1971, Oz magazine was prosecuted for obscenity. When his evidence turned to the topic of bad language, he expressed the perfectly sensible view that words are just words, and the idea of some language being “bad??? was absurd. Prosecution counsel pressed him further: surely he didn’t use bad language at home? Did he have children? Yes, Melly said, a little girl. And would he call her a “cunt???? No, Melly replied in an exaggeratedly wounded tone, “because she isn’t one???

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