My arse. Just don't go there. A reasonable if unnecessary request under normal circumstances you might think. But this morning we did go there, throwing caution - and perhaps wisdom - to the wind for a brief discussion on slang: from my arse and innit to sucks and yo. Incautious because Today listeners love a bare-knuckle word fight. And sure enough the e-mails soon came raining in: helpfully, if forcefully, defining what is and is not slang and whether it is or is not a good thing.
It certainly seemed a good thing to the US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton. He told us yesterday - albeit indirectly - to "get a life". On the same programme Salman Rushdie had backed Jack Straw with an emphatic "veils suck". In the wake of "Yo Blair!" what is it, we mused, with these influential people of power, resorting to such slang and rejecting the Queen's English?
So we put this to Sir Clement Freud, former MP, gameshow guest, professional eater and - we handily explained - an expert on these matters. But then, who isn't? We all speak, after all, and bandy slang terms around constantly. What's to be expert about? Or, as listener David Haines pointed out, "What is slang anyway if not metaphor and simile in action? Words like 'phlegmatic', 'spectacular', 'glamorous', 'nice' were all effectively slang at one time. The uses and meanings of words change over time. Get over it!"
Would that we could. But those e-mails keep pummelling in. Most lambast us as hypocrites for querying slang, and then indulging in it ourselves elsewhere in the programme - dumbing down, ditching a concept, Brits, unmarried mums.
And slowly it dawned on me. As ever, I realised, the nation should be thankful for John Humphrys. Whereas his role once was to be the unwitting spark for World War - no Today radio signal and the nukes are launched, went the myth - now his far more daunting but still unwitting lot in life is to sound the death knell of a slang term. Because if it crawls unremarked into John's script, then it can't truly be slang any more - or at least not baffling slang, and what's the point of slang unless it baffles John, Clement, Salman & co?
And so, at 8.14am today, "bangs for your buck" was - lest there be any lingering doubt - officially no longer a slang term. John used it without sarcasm in a question. Likewise, little over half an hour later he wondered "what's your problem with that?" to a guest. Chalk it up - another slang term turned and gone over to the other side. And don't let John's doubt confuse you. "Some people say 'wicked' meaning yes," he marvelled, before wondering: "or maybe that's out of date now."
Wonder no more John. Clearly 'wicked' must be toast, and well-burnt, if you even THINK it's acceptable slang. And so, as ever, I urge roving listeners to tune to the Today programme and to listen and learn from our arbiter of the acceptable. As far as slang's concerned, you heard it here last.
Incidentally, but inevitably, I was tempted to write this entire piece in slang. How witty and cleverly self-parodying that would have been, I figured. But then a reckless listener did just that, addressing "the Today Massive" and liberally employing terms such as "Big up", "groovy", "daddy'o" and "respec". With such a lead to guide me, I instantly decided not to go there. Again.