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  • In the altogether

    30th June, 2016

    We holidayed in Adelaide earlier this month (despite it not making an appearance in my sparse blogjune posts), and while there, I discovered that my mother-in-law knew some corkers of sayings.

    It began when we were watching a renovation show (I hate renovating in real life, so I don’t know why we watch these things), and she mused that outdoor showers allowed people to “…see you in the altogether”. I had never heard this saying for nudity before, so she had to explain that she didn’t like to say the word “naked” as it was vulgar! She was shocked that her sayings aren’t well-known, but then reasoned that many were handed down from her father, born in 1889 (seriously).

    Hallett's Cove, SA (June 2016)

    Just enough blue… (Hallett’s Cove SA)

    She regretted explaining the terms, because then I pressured her for “more fun sayings”. One from her English background is: “She thinks she’s the white hen’s chicken” (it means someone who is up themselves). Or someone looking like “The wreck of the Hesperus”. Or “It’s a wigwam for a goose’s bridle” (like “Seeing a man about a dog”).

    General ones such as “Working like a drover’s dog” or “He’s as crooked as a two-bob watch” or “Pig’s whiskers” or “Lower than a snake’s belly”.

    These sayings reminded me of the diamond in the rough song in the Disney Aladdin movie: “She’s a petunia in an onion patch”/”She’s a lily on a dunghill”.

    And a source pleading for modest anonymity also suggested “As cunning as a shit-house rat”.

    My favourite, which was from EJ, about a cloudy sky: “Not/just enough blue to knit mittens for a cat”. As you can see, there was only a small amount of blue at Hallett’s Cove when we visited. Apparently the “s” in Hallett’s was dropped off some time ago. It may surprise you to learn that my mother-in-law sticks with the previous term!

    I could only contribute “Things are crook in Tallarook” – as we didn’t really have any sayings when I was growing up. K’s saying was about a good ability to reach things: “a bigger reach on them than a sick dog”!

    It was also interesting to hear context about growing up in SA – the rag n bone man would collect rubbish “You know, bits and bobs”, someone would collect from the grate of the fire, and there was also the night soil man. One of those moments that really crystallises the value of social history, and the need to better capture experiences that seem so far away, but were really only quite recent.

    …and I have realised I did a brummy post on a similar topic for blogjune 3 years ago! Nothing like a classic, you know?

    There is 1 comment - Add yours?

    1. Lise

      ‘Set like a jelly on a plate’

      It won’t rain if there’s enough blue to make a sailor’s pants.

      ‘ like a lily on a dirt bin’

      ‘You look like, your room is like, a pakapoo ticket’ (which is not what you think it is), and we travelled around like ‘the wreck of the Hesperus’, trailing bits and pieces in all directions.

      And, it’s the goose’s bridal (i.e. wedding).



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