Impress Your Friends With Melbs Slang!
By Steve G. Mileham
“When I was a sprog I lived in the ‘nongas, east of Melbs.”
Welcome to Melbourne (Melbs) and its particular vernacular. The ‘nongas are The Dandenongs, the verdant southern tail of the Great Dividing Range, 30 miles to the east of the Victorian capital. I grew up here, and I want to share this place’s unique language with you. Warning: For readers who are nervous about straying from political correctness, DO NOT read on ...
In the early ’70s, my family moved to the foothills of the ‘nongas. I was just a sprog (little tacker, kid). We lived in an old white weatherboard in the ‘gully (Ferntree Gully, that is). Mum enrolled me in Preps (preparitory level in Primary School, similar to reception in the UK). The other kids perceived me as being pretty unco (uncoordinated), so was always chosen last for sports. This didn’t phase me, because I was always flat out (driven, single minded) either drawing, climbing trees or going around the Milk Bar (corner store, off-licence) to buy Kiss cards and Sunnyboys (orange-juice based iced confections. If you happened to find some yellow printing on the inside silver wrapper, you were entitled a ‘lucky’ – a free Sunnyboy! The cola version was called a Glug).
One boy at school, Graeme, was regarded as as a complete poonce (a bit like ponce, only wetter) for playing only with the girls. He copped the boys’ worst insults, ‘Gaylord’ being the most damning of all. To the boys he was not only gay, but Lord of the Gays! He never joined in games of kisschasey, but then again he didn’t have to; he already had the girls! Interestingly, later in life I appropriated the name Gaylord for myself as a musical pseudonym. The insult was directed at me more than once during those years, and I guess I wanted to turn a negative into a positive. By the way, Graeme went on to become a very successful fashion influencer. Go Graeme!
Meanwhile, my brother and I would busy ourselves playing Undie Trouble (throwing soiled jocks at each other) and Bumps (running at each other as fast as we possibly could and jumping at the last moment to collide mid-air). Then we’d pick ourselves up and do it all over again. One time our bonces (heads) clashed and that was the end of that game.
My mate Pete and I would hang around the local shops and once I asked him to chat up a girl for me. She told him rack off and stop playing funny buggers. He was dark on me for the rest of the day. We’d play street cricket, avoiding cars driven at breakneck speed by the sharpies (punks with tight hooped jumpers). I’d regularly trounce (obliterate, beat) Pete and he’d regularly thrash (same) me. Things were fairly even until the new kid Matty moved in. One day he shyly asked if he could play and we replied, “No wukkas” (meaning “no wukkin’ furries,” meaning “no f*****n’ worries,” meaning “yeh, why not?”). Pete and I were both pissweak by comparison. Dead set (without doubt), Matty was a natural. On the rare occasions my brother played, Paul always ended up chucking a wobbly (tantrum), completely off chops (unhinged). Geez, it was a cack (a laugh).
At Gully Tech (Ferntree Gully Technical School) there were no girls, at least until Year 11, and they were more like women anyway. This meant my fellow testosteroids were always concerned with 1. getting a root (having sex), 2. smoking fags (cigarettes) and 3. skolling grog (binge drinking alcohol, which made you decidedly groggy. The tipple of choice was usually a stubbie of VB, a squat bottle containing Victoria Bitter, which actually tasted quite sweet). Monday morning was always full of stories of being so off their guts (drunk) they ended up spewing in the dunny (vomiting in the toilet). This was seen as a badge of honour.
The boys were completely obsessed with the Mouldie Twisties (Mater Christie sheilas from up the hill, via the Mad Mile – a stretch of road made to be sped down. Oh, and Twisties are Australian savoury snacks that resemble long pieces of dried snot). The Gully Tech boys’ arch rivals were the St. Josephs lads further down the highway. The school was dubbed Poofter’s Paradise. A favourite trick played by top Gully cool boy Gary Brewster was to sidle up to a St. Joe’s boy on the train and mumble, “Poosadef.” The hapless victim would ask, “What?” Brewster would repeat, “Poosadef.” By this time the kid was really riled. “I don’t understand. What did you say?” Brewster would grin and enunciate, “Poofters. Are. Deaf. Couldn’t you hear?” Turning away, the embarassed Paradisian would mumble something like, “Ya tool” (knob, wanker, pain in the arse) to much laughter from the Gully crew.
Speaking of wanker, we actually had a Phys Ed. teacher named Mr. Wenker and boy, did he cop it! Actually Mr. Turner, the science teacher, probably copped it worse. He was known to all as Teddy Turner and the Bunsen Burner (or just plain old Crow, in his ubiquitous grey overcoat). Anyway, I was struggling on the parallel bars in gym one day when I suddenly lurched forward, twisted my arm the wrong way and fell crashing to the floor. Mr. Wenker eventually ambled up and as I lay there in pain, bluntly lamented, “Ah, ya numbnuts” (loser). Later on at the hospital the doctor told me to count backward from ten as the anaesthetic started taking hold. I’d broken my wrist. Before I could say Bob’s yer uncle (I did in fact have an Uncle Robert in Adelaide) my world became blacker than a hat full of a**holes …