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College campuses explode in riots and rebellions. Cultural and religious norms are challenged. Out of this tangled thicket of national chaos, comes a story told through the poetic voice of Sylver Smith who, after surviving a near-fatal accident, examines her life to find it lacking and without purpose. At twenty-eight, Sylvi is a mother, a career woman, and a lost soul who looks for life's answers in the next party, or the next drink, or the next many drinks, until the car wreck. A few months after her brush with death, her jazz musician friend blows into town from New York and turns her on to pot and peyote.
Her psyche awakens to the Oneness of all sentient beings and the power of Love in the Universe. A fool or simpleton; a stupid person; an uncouth person. Boofhead derives from buffle-headed 'having a head like a buffalo' OED and bufflehead 'a fool, blockhead, stupid fellow' OED. Bufflehead has disappeared from standard English, but survives in its Australian form boofhead. It was popularised by the use of boofhead as the name of a dimwitted comic strip character invented by R. Clark and introduced in the Sydney Daily Mail in May For an earlier discussion of the word see our Word of the Month article from December We get their boofheads so they can have ours.
Boomerang is an Australian word which has moved into International English. The word was borrowed from an Aboriginal language in the early years of European settlement, but the exact language is still uncertain. Early evidence suggests it was borrowed from a language in, or just south of, the Sydney region. While the spelling boomerang is now standard, in the early period the word was given a variety of spellings: bomerang , bommerang , bomring , boomereng , boomering , bumerang [etc].
The Australian Aboriginal boomerang is a crescent-shaped wooden implement used as a missile or club, in hunting or warfare, and for recreational purposes. The best-known type of boomerang , used primarily for recreation, can be made to circle in flight and return to the thrower. Although boomerang -like objects were known in other parts of the world, the earliest examples and the greatest diversity of design is found in Australia.
A specimen of a preserved boomerang has been found at Wyrie Swamp in South Australia and is dated at 10, years old. Boomerangs were not known throughout the entirety of Australia, being absent from the west of South Australia, the north Kimberley region of Western Australia, north-east Arnhem Land, and Tasmania.
In some regions boomerangs are decorated with designs that are either painted or cut into the wood. Very early in Australian English the term boomerang was used in transferred and figurative senses, especially with reference to something which returns to or recoils upon its author.
These senses are now part of International English, but it is interesting to look at the earliest Australian evidence for the process of transfer and figurative use:. By the s the verbal sense developed another meaning: 'to return in the manner of a boomerang; to recoil upon the author ; to ricochet'. Australia's a big country An' Freedom's humping bluey And Freedom's on the wallaby Oh don't you hear her Cooee, She's just begun to boomerang She'll knock the tyrants silly. On 13 November the Canberra Times reported that 'Greg Chappell's decision to send England in appeared to have boomeranged'.
These verbal senses of boomerang have also moved into International English. For a further discussion of boomerang see the article 'Boomerang, Boomerang, Thou Spirit of Australia! The phrase is first recorded in the s. A tax avoidance scheme. In the late s a large number of bottom of the harbour schemes were operating in corporate Australia. The term is usually used attributively. Hyland Diamond Dove : The feller in the dock was some fabulous creature - part lawyer, part farmer - who'd been caught in a bottom-of-the-harbour tax avoidance scheme.
An employee responsible for maintaining the outer fences on a station, or a publicly owned vermin-proof fence. This sense of boundary rider is recorded from the s but in more recent years, as a result of changes in technology and modes of transport, this occupation has become relatively rare. Since the s the term has been used of a boundary umpire in Australian Rules Football, a cricketer in a fielding position near the boundary, and a roving reporter at a sporting game.
For a more detailed discussion of the original sense of boundary rider and the later sporting senses see our Word of the Month article from December McGinnis Tracking North : Mechanisation had finally reached the open-range country.
There were no more pumpers or boundary riders. Be the unlikely winner of an event; to win an event coming from well behind. For a detailed discussion of this phrase see our blog 'Doing a Bradbury: an Aussie term born in the Winter Olympics' which includes a video of Bradbury's famous win , and our Word of the Month article from August The Socceroos need some of that luck.
The practice of improperly increasing the membership of a local branch of a political party in order to ensure the preselection of a particular candidate. The term is a specific use of branch meaning 'a local division of a political party'. While the practice described by branch stacking has been around for a very long time, the word itself is first recorded in the s. Leaving immediately; making a hasty departure; at full speed. It is likely that this expression was first used in horseracing to refer to a horse that moved very quickly out of the starting gates. Bray Blossom : 'Come on youse blokes!
First sign of a better offer and they are off like a bride's nightie. An invitation to bring a plate of food to share at a social gathering or fundraiser. There are many stories of new arrivals in Australia being bamboozled by the instruction to bring a plate. As the locals know, a plate alone will not do. In earlier days the request was often ladies a plate , sometimes followed by gentlemen a donation. Ladies bring a plate. Please bring a plate. All welcome. A wild horse. The origin for this term is still disputed. Curr in Australian Race gives booramby meaning 'wild' in the language of the Pitjara or Pidjara or Bidjara people of the region at the headwaters of the Warrego and Nogoa Rivers in south-western Queensland.
This is in the general location of the earliest evidence, but the language evidence has not been subsequently confirmed. This origin was popularised by Paterson in an introduction to his poem 'Brumby's run' printed in A common suggestion is that brumby derives from the proper name Brumby. This theory was also noted by E. Morris in Austral English in 'A different origin was, however, given by an old resident of New South Wales, to a lady of the name Brumby, viz. Over the years, various Messrs Brumby have been postulated as the origin. More recently, Dymphna Lonergan suggested that the word comes from Irish word bromaigh , the plural form of the word for a young horse, or colt.
McGinnis Wildhorse Creek : The country's rotten with brumbies. A forlorn hope; no prospect whatever. One explanation for the origin of the term is that it comes from the name of the convict William Buckley, who escaped from Port Phillip in and lived for 32 years with Aboriginal people in southern Victoria. A second explanation links the phrase to the Melbourne firm of Buckley and Nunn established in , suggesting that a pun developed on the 'Nunn' part of the firm's name with 'none' and that this gave rise to the formulation 'there are just two chances, Buckley's and none'.
This second explanation appears to have arisen after the original phrase was established. For an earlier discussion about the origin of the term buckley's chance see the article 'Buckley's' in our Ozwords newsletter. It should have been Buckley. Olympus explains that he altered it because he didn't want the Fitzroy men to have 'Buckley's chance'. A pair of close-fitting male swimming briefs made of stretch fabric. The Australian term is probably a variation of the international English grape smugglers for such a garment. The term is a jocular allusion to the appearance of the garment. Budgie smugglers is first recorded in the late s.
For a more detailed discussion of the word see our Word of the Month article from December That, and a thin pair of Speedos so figure-hugging you can see every goosebump - flimsy togs that are known not-all-that-affectionately by us Brown boys as budgie smugglers! A kind of fine powdery dirt or dust, often found in inland Australia. Roads or tracks covered with bulldust may be a hazard for livestock and vehicles, which can become bogged in it.
It is probably called bulldust because it resembles the soil trampled by cattle in stockyards. The word can also be used as a polite way of saying bullshit.
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Both senses of the word are first recorded in the s. This 'bull' dust might be about two feet deep, and cakes on the surface, so that it is hard to penetrate. I told him that nothing would get within a 'bull's roar' of Agricolo to interfere with him, and such was the case. The term is often found in this phrasal form where it now has several meanings: 'to be financially bankrupt, to come to nought; to fail, to collapse, to break down'.
These figurative senses of bung emerged in the late 19th century. An amphibious monster supposed to inhabit inland waterways. Descriptions of it vary greatly. Some give it a frightful human head and an animal body. Many descriptions emphasise its threat to humans and its loud booming at night. It inhabits inland rivers, swamps, and billabongs. The word comes from the Aboriginal Wathaurong language of Victoria.
Bunyip is first recorded in the s. For a more detailed discussion of this word see the article 'There's a Bunyip Close behind us and he's Treading on my Tail' in our Ozwords newsletter. Venture an attempt; give something a try. This is an Australian alteration of the standard English phrase give it a whirl. Give it a burl is first recorded in the early years of the 20th century. We'll give it a burl, eh? We wanted to give it a burl and see how it went. We'd do it again. What do you think this is, bush week? These senses of bush week go back to the early 20th century. The phrase originally implied the notion that people from the country are easily fooled by the more sophisticated city slickers.
The speaker resents being mistaken for a country bumpkin. Glassop Lucky Palmer : I get smart alecks like you trying to put one over on me every minute of the day.
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What do you think this is? Bush Week? Murray Goodbye Lullaby : They had already been warned about the breastfeeding business Beat it, you two! The act or process of criticising the Australian Government and its bureaucracy. Canberra , the capital of Australia, has been used allusively to refer to the Australian Government and its bureaucracy since the s.
The term Canberra bashing emerged in the s, and is also applied in criticisms of the city itself. For a more detailed discussion of the term see our Word of the Month article from February Politicians on both sides have shown a willingness to put the boot into a national capital. In a political context a decision made by a party leader etc. This term also takes the form captain's call. Captain's pick is derived from sporting contexts in which a team captain has the discretion to choose members of the team.
The political sense emerged in Australian English in For a more detailed discussion of this term see our Word of the Month article from January To die; to break down; to fail. Also spelt kark , and often taking the form cark it. The word is probably a figurative use of an earlier Australian sense of cark meaning 'the caw of a crow', which is imitative. Beilby Gunner : 'That wog ya roughed up - well, he karked. A derogatory term for a person who espouses left-wing views but enjoys an affluent lifestyle. It is modelled on the originally British term, champagne socialist , which has a similar meaning.
The term chardonnay socialist appeared in the s, not long after the grape variety Chardonnay became very popular with Australian wine drinkers. Williamson Emerald City : I'm going to keep charting their perturbations.. A checkout operator at a supermarket. This term usually refers to female checkout operators hence chick , an informal word for a young woman , but with changes in the gender makeup of the supermarket workforce the term is occasionlly applied to males. Checkout chick is first recorded in the s. For a more detailed discussion of the term see our Word of the Month article from May A domestic fowl; a chicken.
Chook is the common term for the live bird, although chook raffles , held in Australian clubs and pubs, have ready-to-cook chooks as prizes. The term has also been transferred to refer to other birds, and often in the form old chook it can refer to a woman. See our Word of the Month articles 'chook run' and 'chook lit' for further uses of chook.
Was he looking after the housemaid or the little chookies? A jocular curse. This expression recalls an earlier time when many Australians kept chooks domestic chickens in the backyard and the dunny was a separate outhouse. Although I must say this is a very cunning, contrived piece of legislation, if that is what they set out to do. May their chooks turn into emus and kick their dunnies down. To vomit. Chunder possibly comes from a once-popular cartoon character, 'Chunder Loo of Akim Foo', drawn by Norman Lindsay for a series of boot polish advertisements in the early s. It is possible that 'Chunder Loo' became rhyming slang for spew.
Chunder , however, is the only form to be recorded. The earliest evidence is associated with Australian troops in action to the north of Australia during the Second World War. Makes you chunda. Something that is largely illusory or exists in name only; a poor substitute or imitation.
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For a more detailed discussion of the word see our blog 'The evolution of a word - the case of Clayton's'. Pung Growing up Asian in Australia : My bikini top is crammed so full of rubbery 'chicken fillets' I'd probably bounce if you threw me. These Clayton's breasts jiggle realistically when I jump up and down on the spot. An unbranded animal. In the pastoral industry an animal that has not been branded with a mark identifying the owner can easily be stolen or lost.
The word is first recorded in the s. There are several transferred and figurative senses of cleanskin that evolved from the orgininal sense. In the first decade of the 20th century cleanskin began to be used to describe 'an Aboriginal person who has not passed through an initiation rite'. From the s cleanskin was also used of 'a bottle of wine without a label that identifies the maker, sold at a price cheaper than comparable labelled bottles; the wine in such a bottle'. Keenan The Horses too are Gone : In the rangelands an unbranded calf becomes a cleanskin and cleanskins belong to the first person capable of planting a brand on the rump.
A friend, a companion. It is likely that these terms, as well as cobber , found their way into London slang especially from the Jewish population living in the East End , and from there, via British migrants, into Australian English. Cobber , now somewhat dated, is rarely used by young Australians. A small-scale farmer; in later use often applied to a substantial landowner or to the rural interest generally. Cocky arose in the s and is an abbreviation of cockatoo farmer. This was then a disparaging term for small-scale farmers, probably because of their habit of using a small area of land for a short time and then moving on, in the perceived manner of cockatoos feeding.
A person sentenced in the British Isles to a term of penal servitude in an Australian Colony. The foundations of European settlement in Australia are based on the transportation of tens of thousands of prisoners from the British Isles. While in America convict is still used to refer to a prisoner, in Australia it is now largely historical. For a further discussion of this word see our blog 'A long lost convict: Australia's "C-word"? Angas Description of the Barossa Range : No convicts are transported to this place, for South Australia is not a penal colony.
Originally a call used by an Aboriginal person to communicate with someone at a distance; later adopted by settlers and now widely used as a signal, especially in the bush; a name given to the call. The iconic call of the Australian bush comes from the Aboriginal Sydney language word gawi or guwi meaning 'come here'. Cooee is recorded from the early years of European settlement in Sydney. It is often found in the phrase within cooee meaning 'within earshot; within reach, near'.
Cunningham Two Years in New South Wales : In calling to each other at a distance, the natives make use of the word Coo-ee , as we do the word Hollo , prolonging the sound of the coo , and closing that of the ee with a shrill jerk. Lambert Watermen : If I ever see you within coo-ee of my boat again, I'll drown you.
The word is a borrowing from Yuwaaliyaay and neighbouring languages , an Aboriginal language of northern New South Wales. In the earlier period it was was spelt in various ways, including coolabah , coolobar , and coolybah. It is term for any of several eucalypts, especially the blue-leaved Eucalyptus microtheca found across central and northern Australia, a fibrous-barked tree yielding a durable timber and occurring in seasonally flooded areas.
Coolibah is first recorded in the s. Bad, unpleasant or unsatisfactory: Things were crook on the land in the seventies. Crook means bad in a general sense, and also in more specific senses too: unwell or injured a crook knee , and dishonest or illegal he was accused of crook dealings. All senses are recorded from the s. Pratt Wolaroi's Cup : Most stables.. Clune Roaming Round the Darling : My cobber, here, used to sing in opera. He's a pretty crook singer, but he'll sing for you. Used to indicate the need for a rest in order to settle down, solve a problem, etc. The phrase now often with some variations was originally the title of a a revue at the Phillip Street Theatre in Sydney Not anymore.
A native-born Australian. These terms are now obsolete. These were called currency. An unfashionable person; a person lacking style or character; a socially awkward adolescent, a 'nerd'. These senses of dag derive from an earlier Australian sense of dag meaning 'a "character", someone eccentric but entertainingly so'. Ultimately all these senses of dag are probably derived from the British dialect especially in children's speech sense of dag meaning a 'feat of skill', 'a daring feat among boys', and the phrase to have a dag at meaning 'to have a shot at'.
Dag referring to an unfashionable person etc. Never ever wear a striped suit, a striped shirt and a striped tie together - just dreadful You look like a real dag. Hurry up, get a move on. When a daggy sheep runs, the dried dags knock together to make a rattling sound.
The word dag originally daglock was a British dialect word that was borrowed into mainstream Australian English in the s. Thorne Battler : C'mon Mum, rattle yer dags - the old girls are hungry! To pull down or remove the trousers from a person as a joke or punishment. Dak derives from another Australian term daks meaning 'a pair of trousers'. The term is first recorded from the early s but is probably much older than that. For a more detailed discussion of dak see our Word of the Month article from July His family didn't know about it until he was dacked during a game this year.
A simple kind of bread, traditionally unleavened and baked in the ashes of an outdoor fire. Because it was the most common form of bread for bush workers in the nineteenth century, to earn your damper means to be worth your pay. Bisley Stillways : We made damper out of flour and water, squeezed it around green sticks to cook over the coals. A commemorative ceremony held at dawn on Anzac Day.
Anzac Day, April 25, is a national public holiday in Australia commemorating all those who have served and died in war. While commemorative services have been held on April 25 since , the term dawn service is not recorded until the s. The didgeridoo is a wind instrument that was originally found only in Arnhem Land in northern Australia.
It is a long, wooden, tubular instrument that produces a low-pitched, resonant sound with complex, rhythmic patterns but little tonal variation. In popular understanding many Australians probably believe that this is an Aboriginal word. Subsequent research has cast doubt on this etymology, and in the following statement was made in Australian Aboriginal Words in English : 'Although it has been suggested that this must be a borrowing from an Australian language it is not one. The name probably evolved from white people's ad hoc imitation of the sound of the instrument'.
This argument is supported by two of the earliest pieces of evidence for the term:. It produces but one sound - 'didjerry, didjerry, didjerry -' and so on ad infinitum. First recorded in this sense It came to France when the sandgropers gave up digging on the goldfields of W. They include a major who planned an 'unprecedented operation' to capture a rogue Afghan sergeant who murdered three Australian diggers.
Reliable; genuine; honest; true. This word is a shortening of fair dinkum which comes from British dialect. The adjective is first recorded in Australia from the s. For a more detailed discussion of dinkum see the article 'The Story of Dinkum' on our blog. The starting point is to make the debate more dinkum. The phrase was first recorded in This may give a clue to the source of the phrase. If you are done like a dinner , you are completely and efficiently demolished. Bride Letters from Victorian Pioneers : The horse swam for a quarter of a mile down the river with the cart after him..
To inform upon someone ; to incriminate someone. The word is probably related to British dialect dob meaning 'to put down an article heavily or clumsily; to throw down', and 'to throw stones etc. Dob is first recorded in the s. For a more detailed discussion of this term see the article 'The Story of Dob' on our blog. Bisley Stillways : He used to sell single cigarettes to kids, and although it was common knowledge, he had never been busted and no one ever dobbed on him.
This example illustrates the way the origins of words and phrases can be lost with changes in technology. The expression has several variants including fed up to dolly's wax , and its meaning does not always denote being 'full' with food. First recorded in the early 20th century.
And I am fed up to dolly's wax with them. In a preferential system of voting a vote recorded by allocating preferences according to the order in which candidates' names appear on the ballot paper; such votes viewed collectively. First recorded in the early midth century. In South Australia this vote - the 'donkey vote' - will go to the Anti-Communists. A parliamentary question asked of a Minister by a member of the party in government to give the Minister the opportunity to deliver a prepared reply. It comes from Dorothy Dix , the pen-name of Elizabeth Gilmer , an American journalist who wrote a famous personal advice column which was syndicated in Australia.
Her column came to seem a little too contrived, as if she was writing the questions as well as the answers. For a discussion about the use of Dorothy Dixer in rhyming slang see the article 'Dorothies and Michelles' in our Ozwords newsletter. One of those came from Mr Hutchin, and there were cries of 'Dorothy Dix' when he asked it When a Minister is anxious to make some information available, or to answer some outside criticism, he will often get a private member to ask a question on the subject. And it was not her husky voice or hair or makeup that stopped traffic, but the rows and rows of pearls..
In traditional Aboriginal belief a collection of events beyond living memory that shaped the physical, spiritual, and moral world; the era in which these occurred; an Aboriginal person's consciousness of the enduring nature of the era. The term also takes the form dreaming. Dreamtime is a translation of alcheringa - a word from the Arrernte Aboriginal language of the Alice Springs region in central Australia.
Attenborough Quest Under Capricorn : Although the Dreamtime was in the past, it is also co-existent with the present, and a man, by performing the rituals, can become one with his 'dreaming' and experience eternity. It is to seek this mystical union that the men enact the ceremonies. A fool, a simpleton, an idiot. There is also a bird called a drongo. The spangled drongo is found in northern and eastern Australia, as well as in the islands to the north of Australia, and further north to India and China.
It is called a drongo because that is the name of a bird from the same family in northern Madagascar. The spangled drongo is not a stupid bird. It is not a galah. One book describes it thus: 'The spangled drongo catches insects in the air, chasing them in aerobatic flight'.
There is one odd story about the drongo, however: unlike most migratory birds, it appears to migrate to colder regions in winter. Some have suggested that this is the origin of the association of 'stupidity' with the term drongo. But this seems most unlikely. So what is the true story? There was an Australian racehorse called Drongo during the early s.
It seems likely that he was named after the bird called the 'drongo'. He often came very close to winning major races, but in 37 starts he never won a race. In a writer in the Melbourne Argus comments: 'Drongo is sure to be a very hard horse to beat. He is improving with every run'. But he never did win. Soon after the horse's retirement it seems that racegoers started to apply the term to horses that were having similarly unlucky careers. In the s it was applied to recruits in the Royal Australian Air Force.
It has become part of general Australian slang. Buzz Kennedy, writing in The Australian newspaper in , defines a drongo thus:. A drongo is a simpleton but a complicated one: he is a simpleton [of the] sort who not only falls over his feet but does so at Government House; who asks his future mother-in-law to pass-the-magic-word salt the first time the girl asks him home In an emergency he runs heroically in the wrong direction. If he were Superman he would get locked in the telephone box.
He never wins. So he is a drongo. The origin of the term was revived at Flemington in when a Drongo Handicap was held. Only apprentice jockeys were allowed to ride. The horses entered were not allowed to have won a race in the previous twelve months. Goode Through the Farm Gate : I can't believe my drongo of a father is asking such ridiculous questions. A jocular name for an imaginary animal similar in appearance to a koala, with very sharp jaws and teeth, that is said to devour tourists etc.
The term is often associated with the fooling of gullible international tourists, and has accordingly been used this way in television advertisements. There are suggestions that the term drop bear emerged in the Second World War period see quotation below but the first record is from the s. Keesing Lily on a Dustbin : The 'drop bears' are creatures of a tall story - they were invented during World War II for the benefit of gullible American servicemen. It is alleged that 'drop bears' are a dangerous kind of koala and that they drop out of trees on the heads and shoulders of bush walkers and hug them to death.
Colbert The Ranch : The other Harry has got a head like a drover's dog and always wears a hat. Courtenay: We'd heard Nancy say he'd come back like a drover's dog all prick and ribs. Look out - female approaching! A warning cry from a male as a signal to other men that a woman is approaching a traditionally all-male environment. It is a reminder that the men should modify their language and behaviour to avoid giving offence. It was first used in shearing sheds, but is now heard in other places, especially in a pub. While the first written evidence comes from the early s the phrase probably goes back several decades earlier.
Fatty Vautin and Peter Sterling reportedly held angry meetings with their producer declaring they would not speak to Wilson if she was hired.
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A toilet. The dunny was originally any outside toilet. In cities and towns the pan-type dunny was emptied by the dunny man , who came round regularly with his dunny cart. Dunny can now be used for any toilet. First recorded in the s but dunnekin is attested in Australian sources from the s. To subject a person to a torrent of words; to talk at great length to; to harangue.
While not a physical beating of the ears, most people can sympathise with a person who has sustained a long taking to an ear-bashing by a boring or obnoxious windbag an earbasher. The verb is first recorded from the s, and possibly comes from Australian military slang of the Second World War period. Most Australians are surprised to discover that this is an Australian term.
First recorded from the s. The ALP contains many influential spokesmen who advocate disengagement of governments from existing agricultural assistance measures.. The act or process of picking up litter; a group of people doing this; the act or process of searching an area of ground for something.
This term developed out of an earlier verbal form recorded in the s , emu-bob , meaning 'to pick up pieces of timber, roots, etc. By the s the verb had developed a more specific sense: 'to pick up litter'. By the s the verbal form had developed into the noun. A portable insulated container in which food and drink are kept cool. A common sight at barbecues, beaches, parks, and camping grounds in the summer months.
The Esky Auto Box keeps drinks and food cold and fresh wherever you go. Will fit in the boot of any car. Winton Dirt Music : They have a folding table and esky out here on the sand beside the fire. A prison for the confinement of female convicts. Also known as a female factory. The first such factory was established in at Parramatta in New South Wales.
It was a place of punishment, a labour and marriage agency for the colony, and a profit-making textiles factory where women made convict clothing and blankets. There were eight other factories in the Australian convict settlements. Australia often sees itself as an egalitarian society, the land of the fair go , where all citizens have a right to fair treatment. It is often used as an exclamation: fair go Kev, give the kids a turn! Sometimes it expresses disbelief: fair go—the tooth fairy? For further discussion of this term see the article 'Australia - the land of the fair go' on our blog.
Both men turned pale, but struggled, calling out, 'Read the warrants to us first'. Inspector Ahern said, 'You can hear them later', and the police seized the prisoners. Both appealed to Mr. Ranking, crying out, 'Do you call this a fair go, Mr. Her baby brother sat on the floor eating the bits that fell off the table.
Steady on, be reasonable. In Australian opposition leader Kevin Rudd famously used a variant of the phrase: 'fair shake of the sauce bottle'. Fair suck of the sauce bottle is first recorded in the s.