Do you remember Steve Irwin? The chap who used to wear khaki shorts and shirts and juggle animals on television? The one who used to say ” Crikey!” a lot on air?
Of course you do, He was immensely popular in North America as the image ( and sound ) of Australia. He was the archetype of the wise bushman, savvy in all outdoor adventures and steeped in true Australian slang. But North American viewers never knew the real truth – when Steve used the word “Crikey”, he was the only person on the continent to do so.
Or to be more accurate, he used it, but not here. No-one uses it here. We might use the names of various deities, or bodily functions, or secretions, or even WWII Australian army generals when we need an expletive*. We still use bloody hell, or worse, but we have let Crikey alone for decades – so much so that the copyright on it expired and it could be taken up by the television company for use in scripts.
While having a reputation as a swearing nation amongst the English, we rarely ask God to damn anything, as they might do in America. Unlike Canada we do not have any SOB’s – except the Sultan of Brunei, and he is indeed a noticeable SOB…We have eschewed the more colourful curses involving Australian animals or sporting history because you can’t get them out quickly at a traffic roundabout and they probably don’t translate into Mandarin or Hindi very well. And it is useless cursing some people because their lives are far worse than anything you could wish on them – indeed bidding them on to longevity could be the cruelest thing one might say.
As for Steve, well his fate was eventually to be remembered for…his fate. At least he got off better than Rolf Harris.
- Gordon Bennett. Sorry, I let that slip out…