A Dinky- di Tale for Today: Australia Day

Back in the 1950’s I knew a real old timer, Joseph Patrick Henry O’Hagen Hart, and he’d spin great yarns. A comment on one of Garrulous Gwen’s, aka The Reluctant Retiree, posts brought back old memories and this is one.

Joseph Patrick Henry O’Hagen Hart, used to tell of a mate; ‘Cancer & Ulcers’, and it went like this………

“Now Cancer & Ulcers got his name by living on meat pies, never ate anything else, just meat pies, which is how come he got cancer and ulcers and died.

Cancer & Ulcers worked on the railways, he was a ticket seller at Spencer Street, and one day a bloke come in and wanted a ticket to Yackandandah; “Don’t go to Yackandandah” says C & U, ” go to Moe M. O. E, Moe”, cos he couldn’t spell Yackandandah.

On the ticket he’d have to write the luggage details, so he asked the bloke what he had and the bloke says “I have one portmanteau”. (Suitcases were still referred to as portmanteau’s in Victoria in 1951 when I arrived in Melbourne)

So, C & U scratched his head, and said, One ticket to Moe with one box, B O X box”, he couldn’t spell portmanteau either!”

Joe ( who was in his 80’s when I knew him). had quite a few tales to tell, this was the best, I was assured that this was a true story, I must admit I believed it then as I do now!


Sitting enjoying a nice cuppa on the veranda, I felt Old Joe turn in his grave, I’d omitted some of his name; I’d left out the Henry, as in ” I’m ‘enery the ateff I am”. so I’ve just fixed it. Now he can go back to sleep.

52 thoughts on “A Dinky- di Tale for Today: Australia Day

  1. I was about to object that it’s not yet Australia Day … but of course it is in Australia. It’s just not the 26th yet here in Colorado.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And my granddaughters are out with their flags, and hats, and stickers on their bodies, having a great time and very excited.

      By the bye, their mother & grandmother have been dragged along, to share in the excitement, and face painting, and the ferry boat racing on the harbour; but somehow I think, they’ll be to tired for the fireworks tonight!

      I’m having a great time home alone with the two dogs.

      As it should be. 🙂


  2. Australia’s mysterious anthem: “Australians all let us be Joyce”
    Now who is Joyce.

    Still think the anthem should be : “Once a jolly Swagman”
    Happy Australia Day

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I prefer “Road to Gundagi”; I can recall once, when I was doing National Service, marching to that tune, don’t remember the occasion though; then when you’re in the Army they don’t have to have a reason to have you marching with the Army Band.
      And what a great tune it is to march to; you just get a jaunty swagger to your step and feel like singing along.
      As for the rubbish that Malcolm Fraser dumped upon us as an anthem; as Gough the Great explained, it was words put to the music of God bless the Prince of Wales.
      So whenever I hear the silly song being sung, when everybody, with swelling chests sing, Advannnnnceeeee Australiayaaaaaaaaa Fairrrrrr, I sing God bless the Prince of Walesssssssssss. You should try it sometime Ira, great fun!,


  3. I believe that story, you’d never lead us astray.

    Now I know why people used to call their suitcases “ports” when we first arrived in Australia.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do believe it was a true tale even to this day Yvonne; Back in those early days railway tickets were written by hand with the destination and luggage.
      Joe was a fair dinkum; Aussie born in the 1880’s, and even in his 80’s could still spin a yarn about people he knew, and what they did; wish I could recall more; this one’s always, as you can see, stuck in my memory.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yes, they always referred to their suitcases, in Victoria at least, as ‘ports’; must admit I was a bit lost when you’d be going somewhere and you’d be asked if you were taking a ‘port’;
      Why would I be taking a bottle of port? Never asked why; already an ignoran’ Pommy as it was

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Same here. We were in South Australia, and seemed strange enough to our neighbours.

        Another bit of education, being asked to a gathering and told to bring a plate. Who knew that plate was meant to have food on it!?

        Liked by 2 people

        1. They were strange ways to we migrants weren’t they? Although I must admit that I loved the way things were, so different from what I’d left behind in London 1951, and I adapted very quickly. My mother never did. My dad did!

          Liked by 1 person

      2. There were certain words, such as “port” which marked out which state you hailed from. It wasn’t used in Sydney for example. Other differences that spring to mind include fritz / devon; scallop / potato cake; pot / schooner ; middy / pony ; deli / milk bar etc etc

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Pot was 10 oz same as the middy, the schooner was 15oz, the 7 oz was a glass in Vic a 7 in NSW and a middy/schooner in WA.

          SA had some strange names, think it was a 6 oz (might have been 9 oz) they called a butcher. They were odd the Croweaters.

          Forget what the Banana Benders called theirs, I lived there for a year, and was a drinker.

          They were crazy with their food. When I first went to buy a sandwich for lunch, I ordered a ham sandwich please. Just one says the lady, yes please says me, Okay says she and gives me one point. They cut the sandwich into four points and each one was a sandwich, so if you wanted a full sandwich you needed to order four.

          I tried to explain that the definition of a sandwich was laid down by the Earl of Sandwich and consisted of two slices of bread with a savoury filling etc. The woman looked at me as if I was mad.

          Needless to say I did not stay in Queensland very long

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Clearly I don’t drink beer. But I occasionally stood a shout at various bars around the country. I never knew that about Queenslander sandwiches. Maybe it’s basis lies in Yvonne’s being asked to “bring a plate”. No self respecting matron would present her sandwiches unless they were cut in quarters. So then the offer of “would you care for a sandwich?” would just be the one quarter. How’s that for a hypothesis?


        3. Ridiculous comes to mind 😀

          Liked by 1 person

        4. These were pre-Joh Bjelke Petersen days; before he brought them into the early 20th century; when they were just 100 years behind the rest of the world, and 20 years behind the rest of Australia.

          Liked by 1 person

        5. I was going to make a crack about pumpkin scones on my previous comment.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. So, read that twice . . . still sailed past me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’d need to be an Australian to understand I suppose, but Joe was telling me about a mate who worked for the Victorian Railways in the ticket Office, who couldn’t spell very well,,
      When passengers came to his window and asked for a ticket he’d have to write one out, and on one occasion somebody asked him for a ticket to Yackandanda, he couldn’t spell the name of the place , so he wrote it for one that he did Moe; “Em Oh EE”, Moe;!
      He apparently was was of those who spoke the letters as he was writing them and said the word when he’d finished writing it
      There were people like that here, even in the 50’s


      1. I guess the humor escapes me. Oh, wait . . . I’m not an Australian. Nevermind.


        1. Too subtle perhaps?

          Nevermind, old timers like that are long gone just a few with memories like me left.

          If you came to Australia now you’d be fine. The people here have been subjected to the American pie in the face slapstick stuff for so long that is whats becoming the norm, sad to say.

          The Australians of pre-TV Internet days have/had a very laconic sense of humour, in a similar vein to the English which delights in pathos – think Charlie Chaplin-, which seems to pass over almost everybody else’s head.

          Too the humour can sometimes only be felt in the telling. I imagine you’d watch “Yes Minister” and wonder what the nonsense is all about; whereas even after 30 or 40 years I still chuckle, which is a damned sight better that the canned laughter thats been added.

          So I suppose it all comes down to what and where one was born


        2. I was born in what was then Yugoslavia and is now Slovenia. I adapted to different types of humor, including British humor.

          For the record, I like my humor best.


        3. and why shouldn’t you; you’d have gone well, had you have finished up in Australia, as against the US, you have a bit of that laconic stuff in you and would have fitted in well. Might even have finished up as the Prime Minister of Oz.At least that would have been possible.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. Yeah . . . you’d now have guns everywhere, I’d wager.


        5. Oh that’s interesting. I lived nearish to the Slovenian border for six months when I was in Viskovo. I arrived with rudimentary Serbo-Croat and as my comprehension improved I had a lot of fun with pretending I didn’t understand certain (rude) expressions and asking the guys to explain more. That was VERY humorous!

          Liked by 3 people

        6. We escaped to Italy when I was about 1-year-old. My parents did not want me to learn the language (they kind of hated the regime there) so I grew up with Italian.

          However, just by listening, I picked up enough swear words (although I did not fully understand the nuances of them) that I can now call myself tri-lingual . . . in swearing.

          Liked by 3 people

        7. I arrived in Yugoslavia towards the end of the regime. I used to make a run across the border to Trieste to stock up on supermarket shortages. An Australian passport and a British registered car was of great assistance for that activity. Tito died six months later and I decided it would be a good moment to skedaddle. We thought the Soviets would invade. I returned a few years ago and now my village is a main town on the international trade superhighway. The swear words are fantastic aren’t they? Certainly anatomically descriptive with precise instructions. It’s actually not that difficult a language to learn, although Slovenian is different again from Serbo-Croat. As for Italian, well I still speak that after a fashion, and they have some fabulous jokes that I COULD post as they would pass the censorship test.

          Liked by 1 person

        8. I have strict guidelines as regards to expletives, and any foreign word that gets a***** or #@%(&* when I shove it into the translator thingy gets the honory order of the boot 😀

          Liked by 1 person

        9. Trust me, I would never attempt to convey those Slavic sentiments.

          Liked by 1 person

        10. I wrote about the area from where I came here:

          Unlike some folks who moved away from their birthplace, I do not hold the area as special or significant to me.

          The area was a tourist destination since the time of the Roman Empire (and probably before) and it is again. I supposedly owned land (inherited from my father who died right after I was born) and homes which were appropriated by relatives who forged papers to take them over. Some are now hotels and one area is now a resort, or something like that – I was never all that interested and my mother told me things over the course of a number of years that I’ve assembled into an incomplete picture of what went on. It’s messy as my father’s family was not all that happy with him having married my mother.

          I’ve never been back and have no intention of ever visiting, although my mother has been back a few times and she still keeps in touch with people she grew up with (some of which are now spread all over the world).

          My mother and step-father spoke what I think was Serbo-Croatian. I was technically born in Slovenia (or what is now Slovenia) but we lived in what is now Croatia. The languages share a lot but are not precisely the same. The people there (before the war) consider and call themselves Instriani (from Istria – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Istria) and most spoke and considered themselves Italian. Hence why many left after WWII.


        11. I just noticed that remark about your mother, she must be quite old now; probably older than me; I trust you show the respect for age to your mother that you neglect to show me.
          On a more serious note. It never ceases to amaze me, the number of people from that region, that live to very ripe old age, and still retain all their marbles. Often wonder if it’s the diet that they grew on, they obviously weren’t reared on spam or should that be Spam; which reminds me; I need to empty my spam folder.


        12. My mother is twenty years my senior. Yes, still sharp.

          . . . and, the whole family loves Spam. After the war, the region was dependent on some supplies from the Allies. Spam was one of the things they got.

          When I was younger, I very much loved powdered milk and milk concentrate, also things we got in care packages.

          If diet were a factor in longevity, I would probably already be dead. Personally, I’m counting on genetics, exercise, and gun ownership (not currently on that last one, but I aim to remedy that soon).


        13. .Then your mother is really not that much older than me.
          During and after the war in England we were very heavily rationed, in fact it was still on when we left in Fedruary 1951. I never knew the taste of butter ’til I was in Australia I did know Spam, dried egg, dried milk too. Have you anyone in mind practice on when you re-arm?


        14. I have no intention of ever shooting anyone other than in extreme cases of self-defense.

          . . . not that I don’t think there be many that be needing it, but there be a powerful difference between wishing someone did not exist and acting on it . . . Perhaps you’re not aware of it, but it be so.

          Liked by 1 person

        15. Strict guidelines, eh? Well, the interesting thing is that most translators are not really up to snuff when it comes to swearing. For instance, I just entered a few choice words (in Italian) and the translator returned a much more vulgar (and inaccurate) translation. Other words that are regional do not get picked up at all. Some words get translated correctly from English into other languages, but the same word is not translated correctly back into English.

          There are sites (entertainment sites) that do nothing more than run popular sayings or phrases (mottos) through a couple of Google translations and then back to English. Try it, it’s fun.

          For instance: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/google-translating-christmas-songs-multiple-4752003

          You could just assume your readers have some class . . .


        16. I was taught never to assume anything, and I don’t need to because I’ve never had occasion to cut out anything offensive from any of those that follow my stuff on a regular basis.
          I did one have some Australian/Pommy bloke abuse me and curse and call me everyname you could think of, and then some, because I’d had the temerity to correct a very glaring mistake that he’d made about one of my blogs. on the Shay Gap series and I wasn’t going to have that stuffatteched to one of my blogs’

          Liked by 1 person

        17. That’s the English Daily Mirror, one of rupert murdocks things, I never go to his stuff, I will not dignify the man in any way. Just my minor token does no good whatsoever except to me. I like him less than the present incumbent of the Oval Office, which is saying something. At least there’s a chance that he can be removed murdock has too much money,


        18. That’s fine . . . you can do the test yourself. Take a favorite phrase or saying, translate it into 2-3 different languages in succession, and then back to English. Often, the results are amusing.

          I only provided that link as it was one that gave examples.

          Other links require something you profess to lack . . . proficiency beyond clicking the mouse button.

          Liked by 1 person

        19. When office computers were still in their infancy I had a paper which had been converted from Russian to English by an auto translator and it kept referring to “water sheep”. It was a while before I realised it was meant to be a “hydraulic ram”.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I was on a bus once. A little boy was asking his Grandfather how to spell supercalifragilisticexpialodocious. Grandpa was struggling. I wrote it out on my ticket, turned round, and handed it to him. “Smug git”, said the gentleman. We laughed, but I thought that was most salutary.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have no trouble at all in spelling super. The rest might take some effort!

      “Smug git” they still use git, in England do they?

      Just read this to my wife, she just looked blank when I said “smug git”, couldn’t understand why I’m chuckling.

      As they like to say here, ‘Once a Pom, always a Pom”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My children and grandchildren sometimes call me “ole git”

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I have not heard it since settling in Australia, my dad used to use it, when he spoke, which wasn’t often. He preferred reading his newspapers and sleeping to talking.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh that’s a good yarn. Glad I played a small part in inspiring it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you’ll look up, you’ll notice our chum Emilio aka disperser is having trouble with it; I’ve done my best to explain it to him. 🙄 O_o


      1. I used to have a physics teacher who would yell at me from the front of the class, “You DO understand what I’m talking about! You are just being OBTUSE.” Methinks Disperser is having you on.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. No, he just likes being different and we need to humour him 😈

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Let’s end him a virtual hug for being special 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        3. And that was meant to say, “Let’s Send him” – not End him. !

          Liked by 1 person

        4. I like end him better 😈 👿

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I believe it and that explains why Yack has a population of less than 1000 and Moe has 16 times that number and most of them can’t spell very well.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Those old codgers knew how to spin a yarn John; and that’s why I still believe the story. 😛


  8. A grand yarn indeed, and happy Australia Day to you a day late! 🎉

    Liked by 1 person

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