A friend of mine in England – who is English-born, and has never been to Australia – when we first met, decided he was being massively amusing (ha) in spending quite a lot of time and effort imitating the archetypal Aussie.
He kept on calling people “Flamin’ Galahs”. So I told him, that most Australians live in very cosmopolitan cities. That the vast majority of Sydney-siders are pretty sophisticated. No-one, but no-one says … “You flamin’ Galah”… it’s just not part of our vernacular. Perhaps on ‘Neighbours’ or ‘Home and Away” – Ralf or Alf or whatever the archetypal stereotypical Aussie true-blue down-home bloke character is called, says it. But that is purely for the edification of overseas viewers.
And, I said, while we’re on the subject, rarely does anyone use the word “drongo”, and I’ve never heard one of my contemporaries say “She’ll be apples”.
We simply don’t talk like that. It’s internationalised nonsense. Also we don’t go around banging on about “slipping an extra SHRIMP on the barbie”. I know that’s an old advert, but it still resonates with people overseas. So I’ll address it.
THIS HAS TO BE IN CAPS. NO-ONE IN AUSTRALIA SAYS SHRIMP.
The Hoges advertising thing was for the international market, for the US and the UK – we don’t say “shrimp”. Shrimp implies small, and we don’t do small. Shrimp has overtones of petiteness – like Jean Shrimpton (look it up young people – in fact I’m a young people in this context, and I only know who she is via my parents’ generation).
Ausssies don’t do petite. That “shrimp” is a farken’ PRAWN mate, and it’s BIG. In fact it’s a “KILLER PRAWN”.
We (I mean my fabulous family) used to do this thing for Overseas visitors. I reckon loads of Aussies do this for a laugh. We used to make up things that can kill you. Yes, I realise that there are a lot of real things in Australia which can do you in; this simply served to make it more digestible.
In other words, we came up with, and or borrowed, imaginary creatures that were endemic to Australia that could mortally harm or un-life you.
Like the ‘Drop Bears’. (We were telling this story long before Terry Pratchett’s The Lost Continent – a superbly funny read, and before the Bundy Advertising campaign.) These are like Koalas, but a sort of mutant strain. Highly aggressive, and with murderous intent. Great sharp claws and massive fangs dripping with blood (human). These canny bears would pose as regular Koalas, looking all cute and fluffy and stoned, and then as you walked under the gum tree, they would drop – like a stone – onto your head, and commence scratching and biting your head and neck until you was DED.
We insisted that Aussies DO carry umbrellas, and not because they expect it to rain, but as a protection against Drop Bears. We carry the kind with a metal spike at the top, in order to impale these vicious human-flesh-loving carnivores.
Also we would tell them there was such a thing as Killer Prawns. That they were massive. The size of a large fish – like Tuna. Sometimes schools of Killer Prawns would drift close to Sydney’s beaches, especially Manly and Bondi (basically ‘cos this was where they were most likely to get a good feed of tourist). And that inexperienced swimmers should be really wary of these Killer Prawns.
We pointed out that it was unlikely that one of these crustacean monsters would be able to despatch an adult human by itself, but if there were two or more, then your life was in serious jeopardy (baby…).
Ha ha ha. How we laughed !!!
Most of the people we know are fairly clever, well-travelled people (else they wouldn’t have travelled TO Australia in the first place). But we’d get them drunk and then start talking about these Aussie Killers, as if we were discussing it amongst ourselves.
They’d chime in with “What are you talking about? Drop Bears? Never heard of them”. So we’d explain using the typical Aussie devil-may-care laconic voices, that are mandatory in Australia when talking about some otherwise innocuous small creature, like a tiny spider or a jellyfish, or a pretty ordinary snake WHICH CAN REALLY EASILY KILL YOU REALLY QUICKLY.
And they’d be limned… primed to approach gum trees, Manly and Bondi in a state of utter terror.
Next week, my lovelies, Perceive the Pachyderms.
Thank you to http://www.stockfreeimages.com/ for the prawn !