Wednesday, June 24, 2020

From the vault: Tumba Blood Rumba


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Another Oz poem, this one by John O’Grady (1907-1981) who, under the name Nino Culotta, wrote that wonderful novel (also made into a film) “They’re a Weird Mob”. 


I originally posted this in 2018 but am now adding a glossary.

This one’s for you, Ron.
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Tumba Bloody Rumba:
Tumbarumba (“Tum” pronounced as in “some”) is a small town in New South Wales, about 480 kilometres (300 mi) southwest of Sydney. It is located on the periphery of the Riverina and South West Slopes regions at the western edge of the Snowy Mountains. The 2016 census showed the population of the town and surrounding area to be 1,862 people.  The name may be derived from the sound of thunder, or alternatively from the Aboriginal words for "hollow sounding ground", "thunder", "sound" or "place of big trees".
Bloody:
From Wikipedia:
Bloody, as an adverb, is a commonly used expletive attributive in British English, Australian English, and a number of other Commonwealth nations. It has been used as an intensive since at least the 1670s. Considered respectable until about 1750, it was heavily tabooed during c. 1750–1920, considered equivalent to heavily obscene or profane speech.[citation needed] Public use continued to be seen as controversial until the 1960s, but since the later 20th century, the word has become a comparatively mild expletive or intensifier. In American English, the word is used almost exclusively in its literal sense and is seen by American audiences as a stereotypical marker of British English, without any significant obscene or profane connotation.
Bloody has always been a very common part of Australian speech and has not been considered profane there for some time. The word was dubbed "the Australian adjective" by The Bulletin on 18 August 1894. One Australian performer, Kevin Bloody Wilson, has even made it his middle name. Also in Australia, the word bloody is frequently used as a verbal hyphen, or infix, correctly called tmesis as in "fanbloodytastic". In the 1940s an Australian divorce court judge held that "the word bloody is so common in modern parlance that it is not regarded as swearing". Meanwhile, Neville Chamberlain's government was fining Britons for using the word in public.

(Some more Bytes items to come featuring this bloody word.)
Schooner:
The largest size beer glass in pubs, the next down being a middy.  The schooner is 425 ml (15 imp fl oz), or three-quarters of an imperial pint pre-metrication.
Half a bloody quid:
A quid was the slang term for one pound in the pre-decimal currency days ie pre 1966.
Crook:
Bad, unpleasant, or unsatisfactory.; unwell or injured.
Boggin’:
Getting bogged, ie getting the car tyres stuck.
  
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Hear Jack Thompson recite the poem at:

The poem starts at the 2.58 mark.

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Tumba Bloody Rumba

I was down the Riverina, knockin' 'round the towns a bit,
And occasionally resting with a schooner in me mitt,
And on one of these occasions, when the bar was pretty full
And the local blokes were arguin' assorted kind of bull,
I heard a conversation, most peculiar in its way.
It's only in Australia you would hear a joker say:

"Howya bloody been, ya drongo, haven't seen ya fer a week,
And yer mate was lookin' for ya when ya come in from the creek.
'E was lookin' up at Ryan's, and around at bloody Joe's,
And even at the Royal, where 'e bloody NEVER goes".

And the other bloke says "Seen 'im? Owed 'im half a bloody quid.
Forgot to give it back to him, but now I bloody did -
Could've used the thing me bloody self. Been off the bloody booze,
Up at Tumba-bloody-rumba shootin' kanga-bloody-roos."

Now the bar was pretty quiet, and everybody heard
The peculiar integration of this adjectival word,
But no-one there was laughing, and me - I wasn't game,
So I just sits back and lets them think I spoke the bloody same.

Then someone else was interested to know just what he got,
How many kanga-bloody-roos he went and bloody shot,
And the shooting bloke says "Things are crook -
the drought's too bloody tough.
I got forty-two by seven, and that's good e-bloody-nough."

And, as this polite rejoinder seemed to satisfy the mob,
Everyone stopped listening and got on with the job,
Which was drinkin' beer, and arguin', and talkin' of the heat,
Of boggin' in the bitumen in the middle of the street,
But as for me, I'm here to say the interesting piece of news
Was Tumba-bloody-rumba shootin' kanga bloody-roos.

John Patrick O'Grady

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