Innocent in Australia

A Scot down and under in Melbourne

Posts Tagged ‘Scotland

Scottish Ps, Australian Ts

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People have been calling me Plosive Paul lately, largely cos I be poppin ps perpetually.

My bilabial occlusives, I’m told, are particularly aspirated. In phonetic script they look like this: /pʰ/ – which means air shoots from my gob at top speed with words such as pup or pip, as if I’m trying to spit out a piece of peppery poppadom or crepe … it’s crap.

Since being prepped on it I can’t help noticing – I’m looking to wrap it up, to stop; I’ve even considered getting an op.

While the escaping pop isn’t quite enough to knock propped-up postcards from mantlepieces, I’ve thought about procuring a Popper Stopper, those circular, black things on the front of microphones – with the help of a bendy coat hanger, I could wear one like a harmonica holder, like Bob Dylan, except I’d look like a proper prick.

And it wouldn’t be practical – I’d be caught on the hop, given these stops with rapid pops crop up pretty frequently.


It’s got on top of me, not least because I usually lop off the ends of words. I deal with my ts in the Aberdeen way, the guiding principle being: let them drop, or use a glottal stop.

So I don’t have a computer but a compu–er; I’m not a commuter but a commu–er; I don’t think something’s shit, but shi–; this t-culling happens a lo–: it’s jus– par– of being Sco––ish.

In the past, I didn’t feel the leas– bi– self-conscious rabi––ing on abou– my penchan– for Pulp’s grea–es– hi–s. Now I just think: tha– sounds crap, ya plosive pap.

I rue my missing ts because – in a cruel twist of fate – some Australians rock ts that would fear you. They rattle brittly from the end of words but also at the start and middle. As with my ps, these plosive ts are airy – /tʰ/ – with killer aspiration.

I’ve tried to ignore it, sweep it under the carpet. Of course, I take it – what choice do I have? – but it makes me uptight. It’s tantamount to a clout in the snout – or worse.

In layman’s terms the /tʰ/ sounds like “tih”, so listening to the news on earphones can feel somewhat-ih like a baseball bat-ih being whacked-ih off your nut-ih; it-ih’s almost-ih like being knocked-ih out-ih, mate-ih – what-ih’s it-ih all about-ih?


It might be a posho thing, because you only hear it in some places, but it puts the t squarely in WTF?

From an evolutionary point of view, Scotland and Australia are better off at opposite ends of the planet: running such volatile ps and ts together could change things from plosive to explosive in no time: one minute you’re giving it Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers; the next it’s: kaboom, ya Tupperware poop-face twat.

Even on a good day you’d keel over – it’s way too much air for a single person to expel, your pulmonary pipework would collapse.

Or perhaps not.

Maybe I could practise, pioneer, if a pal or mate put me up to it …

I’ll shut up.

P

Written by Paul Dalgarno

July 13, 2011 at 7:23 am

Scotland’s first day as a better nation (gaun yersel)

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I’ve always been sceptical of people who take pride in their country. Not in the cleanliness of its streets, say, or its flora; that, in itself, isn’t always suspicious.

I mean pride in a notion that’s political and, by definition, subjective.

Having said this, I feel proud of Scotland today: I’m proud of the vessel and all who sail in her.

I’ve been following the #sp11 hashtag on Twitter to almost no avail for much of the last day.

A quirk of living at the far end of Earth is that your social network suffers terribly. The nine-hour time-difference means I spend my days checking and posting on Facebook and Twitter while the lion’s share of people I care most about are tucked up in their beds.

Occasionally, at midday Oz-time, 3am UK-time, I’ll see a little flurry of activity, an old friend getting radge or loved-up on their iPhone. Fine. But that alone can’t sustain you. The rest of the time the UK stream is empty.

Today, walking home from the train station, studying my phone, I was already thinking about Scotland – because of the election, but also because I’d been watching Kirstie and Phil doing a TV show from Loch Fyne yesterday night.

It’s getting cold here now, and dark, and I’m pining more than I thought I would for the light-nights-a-go-go feeling of home.

I was reflecting on the lime-green grass you get in Scotland, versus the dull-green variety here, when I saw the #sp11 Twitter hashtag returning to life. Great, I thought, great.

Suddenly, there was @MalcFlemming giving it: “#FF for @NicolaSturgeon”; there was @RosieMKane giving it: “SNP wins Britain’s got Talent, X Factor and Post Code Challenge”; there was @JimMurphyTalks (oh please, let it be the real Jim Murphy) giving it: “FFS, have held ma boaby better than we’re holdin’ seats :(”.

There were some strong new-morning vibes, and Alasdair Gray-inspired riffing, of which these are just a handful: @STVRoss Garner: “Is that the sun coming up?”; @weesimon: “Off to work in the very first day of a better nation”; and @macdonke: “What a morning, what a country. Everything changes”.

Get a grip. Only joking.

It’s not morning here, but night time and rainy. I’m listening to Radio Scotland’s Election Special on my laptop. At the time of writing the numbers are:

SNP: 55 (estimated 68)

Labour: 26 (worst result since 1921)

Tories: 9  (cough)

Lib Dem: 3 (including Orkney and Shetland)

The worst bit’s not being part of it – all that wild, end-of-the-war snogging on Sauchiehall Street that will define (and this evening create) a generation: sailors kissing nurses, bunting on the streets …

The SNP winning Shettleston? As Jim Murphy would have it: FFS.

You just have to be proud, pull yer pudding at the other side of the planet, enjoy.

I am dag, but am I bogan?

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I seem to have drifted into a space where I’m a dag. In some ways this is nice.

Who hasn’t grown up at the opposite end of the world watching twice-daily episodes of Neighbours and not wished they lived in a world where people could say: “you’re such a dag, Mike,” even though you’re name’s not Mike. The point is: you could have been Mike. We all could have been Mike.

But be careful what you crave.

I recently turned round a computer screen to show a woman something I thought was quite funny (a man dressed as a gnome, sitting in a car, pulling a gangsta pose, since you ask).

It was one of those situations where you have to hold on to your titters; where you know, as soon as the other person’s face starts contorting, you’re going to piss yourself.

Then, amid all the frenzied chortling, she said: “You’re such a dag.”

She slapped her knees as she said it. I slapped mine. If we were Swiss we might have slapped our hands together, then our knees and started yodelling. But from that point, for me, things changed.

Something that had never bothered me in all the years of Neighbours-watching snaked up through my body, wrapped itself round my brain and started squeezing; its tongue a forked question: what’s a dag? WTF is a dag?

It struck me that I should ask the woman. And so I did.

“It just means you’re really daggy,” she said, still laughing. “It’s nothing to worry about – I’m a dag too.”

This was comforting, but only to a degree.

I decided to quiz people discreetly. It was like the first time you heard someone on Home and Away calling someone a spunk and had to check they hadn’t actually meant “spunk”, that “spunky” didn’t, by extension, mean covered in jizz. You knew it didn’t – how obscene would that be? – but you needed to be sure.

I had a word in the ear of someone who used to live in the UK and is fluent in Australian and British.

“It’s just like ‘naff’,” he said.

“Oh, right,” I said. “Ha, ha …” Naff?

That’s the problem with questions – people sometimes give you answers.

A man dressed as a gnome, sitting in a car, giving a gangsta pose: naff. Was I naff for reshowing it? Transmitting this man’s japery? Stupid man. Naff bastard gnome.

But could “naff” really be the meaning? The Urban Dictionary’s fine, but you can’t always trust it, so I looked up “dag” in the Oxford Concise Australian Dictionary: “a lock of wool clotted with dung …” Hmn, that’ll be right … Now, what’s this?

Yes: “colloq. An eccentric or noteworthy person; a character (‘he’s a bit of a dag’ ).” Yes, I’d settle for eccentric and noteworthy – but I don’t think that’s what a dag is.

I kind of thought it meant “dafty” or “spoon” – something like that. You’re such a spoon? Yeah, I could live with that. You’re a dafty-pants? Yup, that’s ok.

But could the dictionary have it so terribly wrong? Why not?

I looked up “bogan” and it said: “a gormless person” (versus the Urban Dictionary’s definition: “a hideously repugnant and unintelligent … beast”).

Both seem wrong although, oddly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bogan.

My wife assures me they don’t exist in the numbers they used to; they are the lesser-spotted bogan.

I’ll point to someone – mullet, skin-tight jeans, Sherrin footy balls tattooed on their eyelids – and whisper: “Is that a bogan?”, to which my wife will reply: “no”.

The temptation is to transplant “neds”, so that ned-like people would become bogans.

You don’t see many neds here – sadly, in my opinion – and maybe that’s why you don’t see many bogans.

It’s also used as an adjective. Someone’s choice of clothes can be bogan, as can their hair. If they’re wearing sawn-off shorts, for example, their heaving chest on display, their skin green with rage, they’d be … erm … Hulk bogan …

Apologies: that’s such a daggy thing to say.

You can be daggy and a bogan, incidentally; but I’m not sure a bogan can be spunky, except in the eyes of another bogan, particularly is he/she says something daggy.

I won’t know for sure until I see one.

This brings to mind the old adage: if you can’t spot the bogan at a party, the bogan is you, especially if you’re drinking James Boag’s.

How does this make me feel? Not awesome. Not awesome at all.

Written by Paul Dalgarno

April 27, 2011 at 9:17 am

Google makes me SEO happy

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One of the joys of writing a blog, as opposed to writing on bits of looroll you let the wind rip from your hands as you step from a Portaloo, is the little box on your dashboard – with WordPress at least – that shows the search engine terms people have used en route to finding you, the actual words they tap into Google.

I look at these regularly, searching for hints (over and above Site Stats, that love-hate numbers game of the blogger) that people like what I’m doing, or have at least thought to look for me.

In my case, I’m glad to say there are quite a few instances of people keying in “Paul Dalgarno” (and a not-surpising-because-it-happens-a-lot number looking for “Paul Delgarno”. Sure, I sometimes imagine snapping off the finger that’s typed the erroneous “e” but mostly I kind of like it: it makes me feel Cuban, like Scarface, and hard as nails.)

Some people type “innocent in australia” too, but the vast majority seem to have stumbled on to the site by accident. They’ve come to it blind and grappling.

An awful lot could be described as “miscalleneous” – search engine terms such as “sliding partition”, “mothers and sisters forego food in India”, and the diminutive “buh means”.

Sometimes I try matching the search term to the post, a wonderful game. When I see “craig mclachlan”, for example, I assume the person has ultimately clicked on Go Neighbours, go Yasi, a kind of kamikaze; when I see “adelaide drop dead”  it must have led them to Adelaide you’re drop dead gorgeous

The philosophy behind search engine optimisation involves making your posts, and particularly your headlines, rich in terms people are likely to be looking for anyway.

The first time I really tried to do this was with Oprah Winfrey and the Stanford Who’s Who. I was thinking, of course, that a percentage of people who punched Oprah Winfrey into their search engine of choice would find me, and that I’d become an internet sensation, and that Oprah would invite me on to her show. I had it all planned, you see.

On the day of posting I received the lowest readership figures of my blogging career and, I sincerely hope, my career as a professional writer.

It was a shock to the system. When no-one reads your blog, three things go through your mind:

  1. I’m not getting paid for this.
  2. Everyone hates me.
  3. I’m not getting paid for this and everyone hates me.

Now, some months later, that same post is one of my most-read and, in time, will almost certainly be number one.

Not for the Oprah part but the Stanford Who’s Who. Barely a day goes by without several, sometimes many more than several, searchers stumbling on to my site with search terms such as:  “Stanford Who’s Who Australia is robbing me”; “Who is really behind Stanford’s Who’s Who?; and “Stanford who is who is legitimate”.

In case you haven’t read the post (ya punk!), I don’t endorse the Stanford Who’s Who; in fact I’m highly suspicious of it. But shit, what a goldmine.

As is fecal matter generally. My site is fourth IN THE WORLD, yes, IN  THE WORLD, for the search term “crack the shits” thanks to the post Cracking the shits. I know, I know, stop boasting … pride precedes a fall …

Sometimes I find myself trying to picture the people making the searches and find it helps if I break them into types, a la:

The inquisitor

Many find themselves beached on the shore of the site with questions such as: “are thongs innocent?” (which leads them to this post); or the even more philosophical: “is australia innocent?”

With a certain class of inquisitor – “what happened to the innocent convicts on the first fleet?” or “what is a australia day to write and at least not that long?” – I hope they haven’t taken my account of Australia Day too seriously. I wonder what their teacher might have said (because surely they’re teens trying to plagiarise) if they submitted a carbon copy of the post in question.

The sexually depraved/chronically bored

I feel ambivalent about these searchers. On the one hand, a reader’s a reader; but on the other, it’s a peculiar soul who wants to see a “nude woman in stirrups please”.

Someone else typed in “turboteats”, which I thought I invented in a post about turbo-birthing.

I’m unconcerned that someone out there was searching for “black booty bouncing nude” (for who among us hasn’t?) but am slightly taken aback that they then clicked on a post called Sydney (let’s whisper this), I love you.

I can only hope he/she found what he/she was looking for.

The precarious

I’ve come to think of these searchers as “people in trouble”. Consequently, I feel guilty they’ve wasted time on my site, and only half-hope they’ll become life-long readers.

There are many people in this category, including whoever wrote: “my license was seized in melbourne airport”; and “I’m under snow in scotland”; and the very suspicious: “8.40pm accident heathmont”.

Call me a cynic, but could that have been the person who caused the accident trying to see if it had been reported? And then reading my blog!

The slayer

These are search terms that make me feel glum. Such as: “possible causes of gurgling in throat and coughing up mucus in the elderly.” (Is it too much to hope they had a chuckle reading Kids are plague crow snot goblins that cause man flu?) The same post snared “crow cough and hot head fever in kids” and the charmingly illiterate “plague crow am we good?” Poor things. Sniff.

The silver bullet

These are by far the saddest of all; so sad, in fact, that the category can only handle one search term at a time. Until recently it was “find me friendly anyone in Melbourne” which went some way to breaking my heart. But that was replaced just last week by someone who must then have read the post When will I be famous?: “i want to be famous but i missed my calling.”

Oh, what was your calling, dear reader? Don’t despair.

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