Those that have bothered going though my memoire of my brother Frank would also know that one of the English words I really struggled with at my arrival from Holland, was also the hardest to get an explanation for. It was clouded in a kind of sniggering secrecy. It was 1956.
I’ll just copy selectively a bit about that word directly from ‘Frank’s Story. Hopefully it will ring a bell with some of you, old enough to remember the stigma attached to the use of that word at the time of Australia’s history in the late 1950’s. However the stigma was qualified. The use of that word was very good and prolifically used, but only by men and for men. Women were excluded almost to the point of a religious fervour. It was seen as risking women having a bit of a faint or a dizzy spell and a run to the ‘Ladies Reserve.’ (I kid you not, this was a euphemism for toilet)
Frank’s story; “The main problem was understanding the Australian accent or slang. I did notice one word that kept cropping up and seemed to be repeated after almost every third or fourth word. It was used prolifically within the confines of those factories where I worked. What is this fukking or fucgling or fouging, I asked? They finally told me that the word was terribly 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?” Even worse, ‘a terrible bad word?’ How could a word be terrible?
I was flabbergasted. In the Dutch language there are no words that are banned in front of women, no matter what sex they belong to.😉 Of course the Dutch language is also rich with words that are coarse but their use is not split between the sexes, nor are they ‘bad’ words. Of course, since then the power of that word has been eroded in Australia as well.
Indeed, that word has been enthusiastically accepted and is now also included in the warm embrace by many a good woman using everyday language as they see fit. (Even with those women that are not so good). The vulgarity of the commonly used swear words is still there but vulgarity has become ‘the rigour’. Anyone watching TV would now know that the once forbidden words are now obligatory.
When I was given the explanation of the word back in the late fifties it was followed with a demonstration by a brave man using a finger going in and out of a hollow fist and a nod and wink; with ‘you know’, you know’ It is doing ‘geekey geekey’ with a woman. Yes, I do know and was reminded by that when watching Abbott on the radio interview and his lurid wink when confronted by the grandmother and her sex phone line attempt at supplementing her meagre pension.
In the fifties, the dictionary had a gap between fuchsia and fucoid. Lady’s Chatterley’s lover was still in the process of coming and it took learned judges many reads and geekey geekey in the fist to finally allow its publication in Australia.
Here is a YouTube video. If you listen carefully it does contain a few four letter words, so switch off if you are bothered by words.