A FORMER St Andrews student has failed in a “vulgar” bid to get a very rude personalised number plate in the US state of Utah.
Professor Edd Hammill lived in Glasgow for five years and thought it would be hilarious to sport the number plate “Bawbag” around Salt Lake City.
But Utah officials, somehow aware that the word is salty Scottish slang, told Prof Hammill his plate breached the state’s strict rules on decency.
The western desert state has the highest population of Mormon worshippers in the country and, by Prof Hammill’s own rueful admission, is “super conservative”.
The word in question gained international fame after a 2011 storm was dubbed “Hurricane Bawbag” north of the border.
Prof Hammill, an ecologist with a Master of Research degree from St Andrews, said: “I’d wanted it registered as I lived in Glasgow for about five years and I honestly believe the word to be iconic there, it’s a proper part of the culture.
“The fact that the hurricane was named after it only cements its importance.”
He added: “They are super-conservative here and don’t like naughty sweary words at all. This was a way of holding onto a wee bit of my own personal history.
“I was a little surprised at the rejection, as I’d seen a Utah plate with “BOLOCKS” on when we were in Yellowstone.
“I just figured that if they Googled it they’d get a bunch of stuff about the Hurricane and move on.
“Looks like I underestimated them. They never said they knew what it meant, but I suspect they were too taken aback to mention it.”
Prof Hammill, who lived in Scotland from the age of 18, said he had decided not to challenge the rejection because he did not want to “make too much of a fuss”.
But Utah officials may want to keep brushing up on their Scottish slang as Prof Hammill, originally from Sheffield, South Yorks, admitted he is “seriously considering what I’m going to try next…”
Prof Hammill’s was told in a letter from the Division of Motor Vehicles at the Utah State Tax Commission to an Edward Hammill, that the plate was illegal under state laws.
The subject line read: “Requested plate: Bawbag”.
Sharee Webb, assistant director of the division, wrote: “The Division of Motoring Vehicles has reviewed your request for the above referenced personalisation plate.
“After an examination of the personalised plate application, it has been determined that your request is denied because the plate you requested has been determined to be vulgar, derogatory, profane or obscene.
“The Division may not issue any combination of letters, words or numbers with any connotation that is vulgar, derogatory, profane or obscene pursuant to UCA 41-1a-411-(2) and Administrative rule R873-22M-34 (2) (a).”
Commenting on the funny number plate rejection, some social media users were confused what the term “Bawbag” meant.
AltMiddle wrote: “WTF is a bawbag? You do realize Utah is different from most other places in the USA?”
ohmzar replied: “A bawbag is a Scottish colloquialism for a scrotum, baw being an accentualised version of ball and bag being well… bag… See also Bawsack.”
saltireblack commented: “What a bunch o’ bawbags!”
Saltire_Blue said: “Blame Trump, he was called it on US TV and now everyone knows it’s meaning. Absolute Bawbag that he is”
According to Utah laws, the number combination of “69” is also prohibited unless it is used in reference to a “vehicle make, model, style, type, or commonly used or readily understood abbreviations of those terms, for example, ’69 CHEV'”.
Nearly half of Utah, known for its politically conservative views, voted for President Donald Trump in last year’s presidential elections with around 60% of the population following the Mormon religion.
However, other states appear to be more relaxed about the rude Scottish phrase, after earlier this year another Scot abroad had his Bawbag registration number accepted the Lone Star State.
The funny plate was spotted on a £25,000 orange Ford Mustang convertible in Austin, Texas.