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Thursday, 01 March 2018

The Show Must Go On: Working on the Australian Circus Circuit - Page 2

Written by Sal Bolton
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Jono?, hey John, you want an egg *sanga?' called McCaffey to his son from inside his caravan.

 

'Nah, nah, you're alright mate!' shouted John, his eyes still closed leant back in his chair. His big grubby pale bare feet sticking up. 'On a diet, none of that rubbish' he added.

 

Weird calling your own dad 'mate'. I can't ever imagine doing that.

 

I then a heard screeching noises coming from the direction of the animal shed. The ensemble of grunting, mooing, squealing, chirping, squawking, clucking built up as one animal prompted the other, singing in a muddled melody. The wake up call, to top it off, was the high piercing cockle of the cockerel.

 

'Jesus, those animals are making quite a racket!' complained McCaffey, a tall elderly man wearing a wide brimmed white Akruba hat slouching against the doorway of his caravan, clutching a brown beer bottle.

 

In his youth, he'd traveled all over Australia in the hotel trade and then converted to the animal and showman business, once earning a living working as a stockman or *'ringer' riding horses on cattle stations in Queensland. The fact was though, McCaffey had worked hard all his life in the bubble of the Australian showman business and was now just tagging along the circuit to remain close to it all. I didn't blame him, where else would he be happy now? He was now an integral part of the tapestry.

 

'Y'wanna a *stubby from the *Esky?' he asked us, holding the bottle up.

 

John, even more laid back than his father, quickly sat up and winced at him.

 

'Strewth, bit early for *grog mate, you've been flogging the wagon too much recently' he responded, curling his lip disapprovingly.

 

* stubby - a 375ml bottle of beer

* esky - cool box

* grog - alcohol

* sanga - sandwich

 

Now the translation of the conversation that I just heard in Australian English to British English was as followed... I was asked if I wanted a bottle of beer from the cool box, then understanding it was too early to be having a drink, then McCaffey being told by John he's been drinking too much recently.

 

I liken it to the dialect of the working class cockney in London, except they use cockney rhyming slang - a much more lyrical and poetic play on the English language. The 'true blue' Aussie skipped this time wasting nonsense, preferring to say something as quick as they could, sometimes without even breathing in between --

 

*Howzitgowinng?. Australian.

 

How are you?. Queens English.

(Page 2 of 5)
Last modified on Thursday, 01 March 2018

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