Would a pussy, an owl and a goat like
To put on a waterproof coat (like
A jacket of green)
And all sail a tureen?
They would if their vessel were boatlike.
With apologies to Mr Lear.
The boat train goes trundling to port,
Taking folks to their island resort,
But its vacuum brakes shear,
And the driver can’t hear
Sailors cry from the pier, “All abort!”
Them bodgies were bikies; together
With widgies, their sheilas, in leather
And denim or zoot
Suits (“America’s beaut!”),
Drove their folks to the ends of their tether.
Bodgies and widgies were a teen subculture in 1950s Australia in the vein of American greasers or British teddy boys. Inspired by American soldiers stationed in Australia in World War II, bodgies mimicked the look of James Dean and rock and rollers, and congregated around inner Sydney (and beyond) giving older Australians the vapours. Most rode motorbikes, but some drove hotted-up cars. Widgies, meanwhile, wore their hair short and dressed in form-fitting skirts and tight blouses with plunging fronts.
So you reckon my body is creaking?
Is it utter perfection you’re seeking?
Well you won’t find it here—
It’s decrepit, I fear,
And I’m worried that part of it’s leaking.
All these oddments are destined to lurk
In my oeuvre, or body of work,
Every overthought line
Doomed to fade and decline
In a corpus the ages will shirk.
When his Landy got totally bogged,
Really stuck in the mud, Josho jogged
Down the lonely bush track
And away. Won’t be back—
Seems the fourby was one that he’d flogged.
Joshua was a popular name for Aussie boys in the 1990s. A Landy is a Land Rover, a type of fourby or four-wheel drive. Flogged here means stolen, one of its meanings in Australia.
When Sirius goes to the toilet,
Do serious crises embroil it?
Are constellate Dog Stars
Incontinent Bog Stars?
(I know they’re white flowers. Don’t spoil it!)
The pot with a spout, made of metal,
I immersed in hot water, let settle.
The tea lady went,
“That’s not what I meant
When I asked you to boil the kettle.”
In those Bollywood movies, they sing
And they shout, and they dance in full fling—
They’re the toast of Bombay.
...It’s Mumbai now, you say?
Mutter... “Mumblewood” ain’t the same thing.
His wife is a bomb thrower, chucking
Home truths into arguments. Ducking
Them’s difficult, but
He should keep his mouth shut
If their marriage has hope of not sucking.
Bomb thrower is a disparaging Australian term for a wife. Classy, eh. It’s also used in politics of someone who uses inflammatory rhetoric to draw attention to themselves or their cause or to provoke a reaction from their opponents.
My memories are ne’er far from reach
Of my days on this fine Sydney beach:
To show you how fond I
Still am of fair Bondi,
Have a packet of Life Savers each.
From 2015 to 2019, an estimated 2.8 million people a year visited Australia’s most famous beach, two-thirds of whom were international tourists. Beachgoers keep the local lifeguards so busy that the TV series Bondi Rescue has run to more than two hundred episodes since 2006.
He’s a serious, praiseworthy guy,
Fighting evils that make people die,
So I hope that you too
Like what Bono can do
(Although I liked him more as The Fly).
“It’s bonzer!” is whatcha might say
If yer ’avin’ a bewdiful day—
When there’s nothin’ but smiles
On everyone’s dials,
And yer ’ole bloody life is okay.
How’d ya manage to get it so wrong?
You’re a boofhead! A drongo! A nong!
A whacker! A fool!
I said come to the pool
Wearing thongs, not a pole-dancer’s thong!
My bookshelves are groaning; it looks
Like my library’s cloning more books.
It’s a burden indeed
To have so much to read—
Curse the Muse and her babbling brooks!
You’re a spinner of yarns who regales
Your daughter with all your travails.
You’re a boomerang bender!
Watch out, or you’ll send ’er
Away with your tallest of tales.
As he listened to Mama and Dada,
The baby grew madder and madder.
“These ickle wee booties
On his footsies are cuties!”
On cue, diddums emptied his bladder.
I say, Cambridge freshers—let’s hop
On our bikes and head off to the bop!
Who can bear to revise
When the glittering prize
Of a disco tempts punters to stop?
Look, why don’t you take a bo-peep
At the shed, where the shivering sheep
Have been shorn of their wool—
Maybe three whole bags full—
And are so bloody cold they’ve lost sleep.
“We learnt Latin in my day. What’s more,
Ancient Greek. And we also... learnt... [snore].”
He’s asleep? Oh, thank God—
What a tedious sod.
Taediosum est, sic? Ancient bore.
Ancient bore, a common enough turn of phrase, hasn’t yet made it into dictionaries in its own right. But there’s something about age that brings out one’s taediosum (one’s boring side, or, in the above: it’s boring, yes?).
When he sees an improvement he likes,
London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, soon strikes:
“These cycles for hire
That you all so admire
Are my doing! Hence, Boris bikes.”
London’s city bikes are nicknamed after the mayor (and future prime minister) who oversaw the launch of the UK capital’s scheme in 2010, but the initial plans were announced by his predecessor and political opponent, Ken Livingstone.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Once sported a happy demeanor,
But suffered a fate
I’m averse to relate...
Sarajevo’s Olympics were cleaner.
My boss is an ass. Brits would say
He’s a tosser (they’re being risqué);
We would say he’s a jerk,
Leaving colleagues at work
At a loss: why’s he get his own Day?
Boss’s Day, a day for showing appreciation for your employer or manager, is mercifully only a thing in the United States. It was started in 1958 by secretary Patricia Bays Haroski, who chose its date of October 16th (the birthday of her father, who was also her boss), and proclaimed by the governor of Illinois four years later. Hallmark issued its first Boss’s Day cards in 1979.
My boss is a sweetie: I love him!
As is his boss, the guy who’s above him.
Let’s show them we care
On this Boss’s Day. (Their
Boss in turn, though, is wack; you can shove him.)
The judge on the bench had his way,
So you’re headed for Botany Bay.
New South Wales is a gaol
That can make a heart fail—
Say goodbye to your life, not g’day.
The convict was ashen and grey;
He was due for a lashin’ that day,
And a dozen, he knew,
Could be, once they were through,
Twenty-five here in Botany Bay.
A “Botany Bay dozen” was twice as many.
This bottle-o’s someone who stops
Glass from going to waste; as he drops
Off the ones he’s collected,
He’s feeling dejected:
“My title will one day mean shops.”
This prescient Aussie bottle collector, whose job involves collecting glass beer bottles for breweries to wash and reuse, has realised that one day his job will be obsolete and its nickname will instead mean a bottle shop: that is, a shop devoted to the sale of alcohol. In most of Australia supermarkets can’t legally sell alcohol, so they cordone off a separate area as a bottle shop for this purpose or have an affiliated bottle shop next to their premises.
“That business we bought for our scheme
To dodge taxes, whose assets we’ll cream—
Has it gone to the bottom
Of the harbour or not?” “Um,
What business?” [Wry smile, eyes agleam.]
Bottom-of-the-harbour schemes in 1970s Australia were corporate tax avoidance schemes involving buying companies with large tax liabilities, cashing out their assets, and then sending them to (originally) “the bottom of Sydney Harbour” by selling them to fictitious buyers or hiding them somewhere else the tax office wouldn’t find them.
Though for bowling outdoors he’s a fool,
Mon père has an iron-clad rule:
He’ll play in Verona,
But never Pamplona—
He’s heard that they run with the boules.
The boules that they use in pétanque
Are metallic, and land with a clonk
When they’re tossed at the jack
Made of wood, which goes crack—
C’est le clonk et petonk et bedonk.
One Victorian land border, while it
Was not done on purpose, has style: it
Is 300 feet
From one shore to next, neat-
ly bisecting the Boundary Islet.
When the sea border between the Australian states of Victoria and Tasmania was set at a latitude of 39°12′ S, the 2-hectare North East Islet of the Hogan Group in Bass Strait was thought to lie further north than it actually does. It was later found to straddle the border, giving rise to its new name and the little-known fact that the island state of Tasmania shares a land border—Australia’s shortest at 85 metres or 279 feet—with its northern neighbour.
I’m a bovver boy. ’Ere on me feet
Are me bovver boots. Don’ they look neat?
Wotcher mean, are they levver?
O’ course! I would never
’Ave bovvered wiv less on this street.
Those tapes of St. Elsewhere I’ve got,
That orange-glazed seventies pot,
These toys of the kids’,
Those jars with no lids:
I’m a bowerbird, hoarding the lot.
An Australian term, after the native bird of the same name.
As British stars go, he’s a biggie.
A kook in a crazy-haired wig, he
Reworks his disguise
With each album: surprise
Is our Dave’s middle name (also “Ziggy”).
Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust hairstyle was modelled on a kabuki lion wig, but actually he lacquered and blow-dried his own hair. Screwed-down hairdo, but boy could he play guitar.
David Bowie is dead, a Blackstar
Up in space. Ziggy’s played his guitar.
Half the world is laid Low
Now that all of us know
Bowie no longer Is, yet we Are.
One of the most significant pop stars of the 20th century, David Bowie (born David Robert Jones) died of cancer on 10 January 2016, two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his 25th album, Blackstar. An artist to the end, Bowie kept his cancer diagnosis secret while confronting his impending death in the songs of his final album, which is already being favourably compared by critics and fans with such career highlights as Station to Station, Ziggy Stardust and Low. A career retrospective exhibition by London’s V&A museum, David Bowie is, has been touring internationally since 2013.
A mother and malt-whisky-trialler
Set foot on the island of Islay
To sample some Bowmore
Until there was no more—
The 12-year-old sure did beguile ’er.
From the ocean, a terrible wave
Swept away those who no one could save.
On Boxing Day, more
Than one city became a mass grave.
The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, known in some countries as the Boxing Day Tsunami because it struck the day after Christmas, was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history, killing 228,000 in 14 countries. The tsunami was triggered by the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake, which measured 9.1–9.3 on the moment magnitude scale and struck just before 8 a.m. local time off the west coast of northern Sumatra in Indonesia. In nearby Aceh, the wave reached a height of 24 metres at the shore, rising to 30 metres inland; even as far away as Somalia, run-up heights of 5–9 metres were recorded. The cities of Banda Aceh and Meulaboh in Indonesia and Galle in Sri Lanka were particularly badly damaged, along with dozens of towns in coastal regions of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Somalia; several other countries in and around the Indian Ocean were hit.
Lawrence Hargrave invented a kite
In the shape of two boxes. In flight,
It would gracefully sail
On the wind with no tail,
Like a brick made of styrofoam might.
A DJ from Austria thought he
Could make Julie Andrews sound naughty.
Now the hills are alive
With “The Edelweiss Jive”—
BPM of a hundred and forty.
She’s a girl who won’t whisper, she’ll yell.
She won’t ask your opinion, she’ll tell.
She’s a ball-busting witch,
But don’t dare call her “bitch”:
The correct form is “BQFH”.
Bitch Queen From Hell.