Saturday, May 19, 2007


Over at Drift, Nash is pondering quirky, antiquated, everyday phrases.

My younger brother used to get into trouble in the late 60s/early 70s for saying "Fab!" all the time - and it took me years to realise that Mum was assuming he was using "Ffffffab!" as a swear word, ie. as an alternative to a certain four-letter word. (And I guess he was, but it was all quite innocent, in that he was just repeating his friends' schoolyard catchcry. As soon as she banned "Fab!", he substituted "Fit!" instead, and still got into trouble. (The two girls who lived next door used to say "Sssssugar!" and "Schweppes!" as their secret swear words.)

I can recall "The Brady Bunch" repeats on TV keeping "Groovy!" in vogue long beyond its "Use By" date.

In the 70s, "gay" was definitely not yet in vogue as an alternative for the term "homosexual". More often, someone was said to be "camp". There was a fascinating article in an old "TV Week" or "TV Times" that talked about Joe Hasham (who played Aussie homosexual lawyer, Don Finlayson in "Number 96") having a gay time at a party. ;)

"Neato!" I first heard during a one-night stopover in Hawaii in December 1983. I was able to meet up with an art class fellow student, who happened to be there to run in the annual Hawaii Marathon, and he explained it was the current "in" word. I started using it myself all 'round the USA - complete with phony American accent, and I was surprised that it did end up in use in Sydney a few years later - but usually just as "Neat".

And "Neat!" was totally overshadowed by "Sad!" (meaning "Good") in the 80s, "Cool!" (or indeed "Kewl") in the 2000s, and "Sick!" and "Fully sick!" in 2006.


DENYS said...

I remember having an erection at the sight of Joe Hasham's naked butt.

I bet both you and Nash can name the character Joe played. LOL

Therin of Andor said...

Lucky Denys!

As mentioned in the above post, Joe Hasham played Don Finlayson. But it's a trivia question most Aussies who watched TV in the 70s can answer, I reckon.

I interviewed Joe Hasham for my book-that-didn't-happen. He's still living and working in Malaysia, as far as I know.

DENYS said...

Yes, I should have read it more carefully instead my eagerness to share with you about my young boy desire got ahead of me.

I only ever watched this sitting in front of our old b/w tv which was in my room. I had a towel covering the gap between the door to hide the light as I was meant to be asleep.

nash said...

I can't hear the word "neat" in my head without it being in an American accent

As for 'Number 96' and naked butts - I remember John McTernan laying on a bed showing his arse in one episode. It got me a bit excited too (which is probably why I still remember it!)

Therin of Andor said...

Julian Rockett (Adam Shaw) had a great claim to fame. He was the first bare male butt - in colour! - on Australian TV.

When I interviewed him for my book, years ago now, he asked me to confirm why he'd once been told he was "a first" when so many other naked guys on "Number 96" had gone before him - he'd forgotten the details - and I worked out that Adam Shaw had arrived in the show on the verge of 96's colour episodes.

At the Powerhouse Museum Aussie TV display last year, I overheard two women laughing about the fact that one of them worked with a guy who was the first male bum on Aussie TV. I said to them, "Oh, you know my friend, Jules, eh? Yeah, he was the first male bum in colour," and they were astonished!