come in spinner – the game of two-up

Royal Australian Mint - two-up kip and pennies

C J Dennis 
- excerpt from The Sentimental Bloke HT Perry Middlemiss
Image of two-up kip and pennies - Royal Australian Mint


"Ow are yeh on a little gamble, Kid?" sez Ginger Mick.  
"Lars' night I'm on four quid.
Come 'round an' try yer luck at Steeny's school. 
"No," sez me conscience. Then I thinks, 
'Why not? An buy 'er presents if I wins a pot? 

A blazin' fool I wus. Fer 'arf a mo' I 'as a fight; 
Then conscience skies the wipe ... Sez I "Orright."  
.... Ten minutes later I was back once more, 
Kip in me 'and, on Steeny Isaac's floor.
Me luck was in an' I wus 'eadin good.
Yes, back agen amongst the same old crew! 
An' orl the time down in me 'eart I knew I never should.

 ... Nex' thing I knows it's after two o'clock - - 
Two in the morning! An' I've done me block!
"Wot odds?" I thinks. "I'm in fer it orright."

An' so I stops an' gambles orl the night; 
An' bribes me conscience wiv the gilt I wins. 
But when I comes out in the cold, 'ard dawn 
I know I've crooled me pitch; 
me soul's in pawn. 

My flamin' sins they 'its me in a 'eap right where I live; 
Fer I 'ave broke the solim vow I give.

Rules of the game  courtesy of The Australian War Memorial site and their source M G Houston.

Whacko! The language of exhilaration

I was reminded of the expression “Whacko!” recently while watching Showcase’s television production of Tim Winton’s classic Australian novel Cloudstreet.  Thought I would go for a little hunt to see where it might pop up.  It first appeared in newspapers in the 1930s, continued its popularity in the 1940s and was less in use in the 1950s and 60s.

Whacko – an expression of joy, approval, happiness, expectation

Sunday Times – 13 March 1949 and Courier Mail – 21 December 1948

The Examiner – 26 August 1941

Note : prior to the fall of Singapore in February 1942

Courier Mail – 5 June 1942  Note:  an important case to follow up?  And whacko!  Here’s a case of serendipity at work.  I just happened to attend this school.  I can’t imagine why this episode wasn’t mentioned in the annals.

whispered unthinking vulgarities in Parliament

In a week when behaviours in the Australian Parliament have been particularly unattractive, here’s a piece from 60 years ago.  In 1952, Robert Menzies was Prime Minister and Herbert Evatt was Leader of the Opposition.  Note the discretion shown by the author of this item. Whispered, unthinking and unrecorded details in the press.

Townsville Bulletin – 30 August 1952

SPEAKER REBUKES HOUSE  Listeners Disgusted

CANBERRA, Aug. 29. — Foul language being broadcast from Parliament House is disgusting listeners.   Letters of complaint are deluging the Speaker whenever a whispered interjection is picked up by the microphones. He told the House today that he had received “most alarming reports” of parliamentary broadcasts. During question time he reprimanded Ministers and leading members of the Opposition for talking across the table of the House. He warned that if cross the table conversations did not cease, he would have them recorded: and said he had already consulted radio engineers on the possibilityof doing so. The only microphones per manently ‘alive’ during parliamentary broadcasts are those before the Speaker, and the one between the Minister at the table and the Opposition Leader.

Other microphones in the Chamber are switched on by a technician when the member nearest them rises to speak. Many Ministers and prominent Opposition members have mastered the technique of whispering interjections to the table microphone. These interjections pass unheard by the member speaking, but devastate his broadcast speech. Complaints to the Speaker have not been directed at these interjections, but at whispered, unthinking vulgarities uttered by those who forget the microphone is open.

Simplifying public service forms

Australian Women’s Weekly – 24 October 1962


The profanity and slangy disrespect of youth


Sir, – I notice in the current correspondence upon “Australian English,” a letter signed E. C. Sloper introducing ” Australian slang,” and I for one am very glad, there is someone who has the courage to do so; and in so sensible a letter, every word of which I can bear out in even stronger tones ; indeed such huge proportions has the disgusting habit of slangy mid coarse expressions obtained in this colony – that to a mind not, utterly lost to decency and purity of speech – it is excruciating in the extreme.

Not only have I repeatedly heard the vulgar expressions quoted by E. C. Sloper towards parents and superiors, but ” cow,”       ” sow,” ” bird,” and the like are the common expressions of children and youths whose parents are beyond reproach, and whose homes and surroundings are all that could be desired. I would that your correspondents enlighten me as to the cause of this almost universal bearing of disrespect and profanity of speech found in the Australian youth.  I am thankful to note that the subject has been introduced, and I trust it will be taken up by abler pens than mine. I rejoice greatly and join very sincerely in E. C. Sloper’s admirable appeal to the heads of public colleges to check the profane habit of slang and disrespect, and to instil into youthful minds a deep love and admiration for that purity of thought which can produce nought but purity of expression.

I am, &c, ,


October 11.

Sydney Morning Herald – 17 October 1891

Words : bludger

Next time you hear the word bludger or are tempted to use it to describe someone, think about its derivation (now obsolete in usage).

The entry for bludger in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable reads

(Aust.)  Originally (19th century) a pimp, but later any scrounger or one profiting without risk.  In World War I to bludge on the flag meant to slack in the army.

The Australian National University’s Australian National Dictionary Centre has a most comprehensive derivation, description and history of the word bludger.

Cooked his goose

This incident reported in the Hobart Mercury of 8 October 1856 had feathers flying.

The phrase ‘cook his goose’ is explained thus in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.  “He’s cooked his goose.  He’s done for himself, he’s made a fatal mistake, ruined his chances, “DISHED” himself. “To cook someone’s goose” is to spoil his plans, to ‘fix’ him….. It is apparently 19th century in origin”

In the Brisbane Courier – 8 July 1864 – a correspondent to its Notes and Queries segment wrote that he had found a 17th century manuscript with a story about the King of Swedland (Sweden) “which he considers to explain the vulgar phrase of “Cooking his Goose”.  Vulgar?

Reginald … on the other hand, had a more literal meaning of cooking his goose in mind when he penned this cartoon.

The Queenslander 25 March 1937