Bucket Pissing and Apple Pies

By gerard oosterman

Anyway, as stated, mum took things in her own hand and despite having hardly any English took it upon her to salvage family. She dragged me and Frank around an employment agency and immediately found work. My first wage was about 4pounds and 5 shillings, but with overtime this could easily become 6 pounds. Frank, with his difficult behaviour and bouts of anger would go through many jobs, each time it seemed as if jobs were available almost everywhere one applied. My dad also finally got out of bed and after a few jobs in blue overalls managed to get a technical job that he knew something about. Telephone equipment was his expertise and he seemed happy in that, it offered some security.

The old house was noisy to the extent that in the mornings the daughters of the Van Dijks of which there were four, took turns pissing loudly in a bucket which was just on the other side of a rather flimsy partition, knocked together by Mr V.Dijk to give our quarters some sort of privacy. The privacy was a bit three legged as well, but we took great joy in the sound of their bucket noises and used to holler out Dutch coarse words, followed with great laughter and mirth making. It was a bit of relief from the hardship!

Three legged dog 

My introduction to work was about at the time when dad was in the middle of his six weeks bedded down with a melancholy and deep depression. The pissing daughters next to the flimsy partition, the rats and three legged dog and car, took its toll. My first job was cleaning the floor of “Roger’s Chains”, which was a big metal shed factory with many men working machinery making links of chains, large and small. The part that I liked most was the ordering of the factory workers lunches. Meat pies, apple pies and soft drinks. I was amazed how some of them would just eat only half and throw the rest out, on the floor. I was almost tempted to eat those remnants, but did not for fear of getting infected with something horrible. The main problem was understanding the Australian accent or slang. I did notice one word that kept cropping up and seemed to be repeated in almost every third or fourth word. I decided to ask the Van Dijks. What is this fukking or fucgling or fouging, I asked them?  Now, you would have thought that their Dutch background would have immediately come to the rescue and explain the meaning of that word. No word in Dutch was something to be ashamed off. Sure, there are coarse words; even so, they are still just words. Instead, their assimilation to Australia and it’s culture was so successful that they immediately went into that silly world of sniggering and evasively trying to convey that there was something absolutely terrible going on with that word, without giving the requested explanation.

They finally told me that the word was bad and that it was alright for men to talk like that but never ever in front of a woman, how curious. Not using certain words in front of a woman? What was going on here? The next bit of salient advice from the Van Dijks was to always say, beggepayrden. If you don’t understand something, just say; beggepayrden. When passing someone on the bus, peggepayrden again. Well, beggepayrden we all did. I beg your pardon!

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