Published in 1943 and given to every American serviceman heading Down Under to help with the war effort, the US War Department’s A Pocket Guide To Australia can be now be read in a different light.
Almost 70 years on, the Pocket Guide appears to be a pretty accurate description of who we were. It may be quaint, but it’s a time capsule that says much about how we have changed as a people in outlook, ethnic composition, custom and language.
It tells of a mad gambling, umpire-hating people, who have strange ways of speaking, putting an ‘i’ where the ‘a’ should be. The booklet’s glossary of Australian slang contains words that have long since passed from our everyday usage.
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Dear Mr Obama,
Thanks heaps for your beaut speech to Parliament this week, in which you used heaps of Australian idioms and that. It was beaut.
Our prime minister looked at you like she dead set wanted to pash you, and our Opposition leader said something about being a fellow English speaker, which is a bloody riot, because seriously mate, have you heard us?
Anyway, as you’ll see if you go to any twenty-firsts or footy dinners while you’re here, we tend to do this right-of-reply dealio whenever anyone dings on a glass and makes a speech, so I thought I’d respond and stuff. Sweet as?
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Australians are often proud of our relaxed, easy-going, “she’ll be right” ethos.
In fact nothing could be farther from the truth.
Most of the time she will not be right and on the rare occasions that she is right it’s only because someone more industrious – say a Scandanavian for example – has gotten off their arse and done something.
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A few years ago, I worked in a co-working space called Silicon Beach House - it was our play on Silicon Valley - and everyone there was either a developer, a web designer, or running a web start-up. It was a little harem of geeks. And then there was me.
My original MySpace page (yes!) is evidence that I really had no idea what I was doing back then. I still use it in presentations to show people what NOT to do on the web. I am also yet to live down the day I replaced the batteries on my mouse with rechargeable ones and had everyone in the office spend a good 20 minutes giving me tech support, before I sheepishly made the discovery.
It may have happened two years ago, but when I asked my Twitter followers the other day if they had any idea why my second screen wasn’t working, someone still suggested I check the batteries.
Bondi’s finally done it. The powers that be that run Australia’s most famous beach have put up the metaphorical “closed for business” sign and jacked up parking fees to deter the Westies.
(View The Punch - Poser suburbs of Australia in a larger map)
The local council is not even pretending there’s another good reason for the latest fee hike to $5 an hour, with Waverly Mayor Sally Betts saying she wants to “protect residents from visitors.”
“We don’t want people from western Sydney coming here and parking - we want them to take public transport. But I don’t think the 50c is a disincentive,” Ms Betts told yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph.
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The people of Frankston, Victoria, deserve full marks for enterprise. But they’ve damaged their bogan credentials by becoming the latest mulletted suburb to jump on the I-Heart-New York-style merchandising bandwagon, with the suburb’s GDP ballooning to several thousand dollars with the sale of I Love Frankston t-shirts, stubbie holders and prophylactics.
The Herald-Sun chronicled the marketing push last week, with residents of “Franga”, “Franghanistan” and “Funky Town” as Frankston is also known hailing the move as a sign their city was on the improve.
It’s the kind of upwardy-mobile stuff which appalls committed westies such as bricklayer Todd Farrawell, from St Marys in Sydney’s West, who went public last month to bemoan the aspirationists who were getting all giggly about the “new buzz” out west.
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It may seem a little odd to some but I am a snob when it comes describing those who are generally referred to as bogans – where I’m from the correct term is booner. So being from Canberra it will always be booner and I rarely make allowances those who may not know what I’m talking about.
This may seem ridiculous but it does makes sense: calling someone a bogan (or booner) is after-all an inherently snobbish exercise in differentiating from others you consider yourself to be better than in some way, so you may as well do it properly.
Another reason for objecting to the term is its ubiquitous use in Australia at the moment is slowly strangling other regionalisms that at least gave a certain colour and flair to our condescension.
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