Sunday, September 28, 2008

Not just the home of great bands anymore

I didn’t give much thought to Australian slang before I got here, and when I did, I was, I’ll admit, a little smug. After all, I’ve been here before; I lived in the UK for a long time, which has plenty of slang overlap with Australia; I know several Australians; and blah blah blah blah. I figured I had it sussed (see, UK slang!).

Well, I hadn’t been in Canberra more than three hours before I came across “Manchester”. Known to me previously only as a northern English industrial city (home to some of the best bands of all time), I was completely confused by seeing it on signs in several of the stores I walked into; as in the supermarket: “Dish soap; paper towels; mops and brooms; Manchester.” And it kept happening: ads on TV: “50% off kitchenware, hardware, Manchester!” Billboards: “Canberra’s biggest selection of Manchester!” But I could never find a sign for it in close proximity to any actual object; it was always dangling from a ceiling or hanging in a window. I kept pointing it out to DP: “There it is again! What the $#!% is Manchester?”

I couldn’t bring myself to walk up to a random salesperson and ask them, and none of the Australians I know live in Canberra. And even if they did, and I could manage to call them up out of the blue and say, “Hey, I’m in Australia! How are you? By the way, what the $#!% is Manchester?”, it took four days for my phone to get hooked up. The internet took even longer, so I couldn’t even look it up and conceal my ignorance from the world. The few minutes I could snatch at internet cafes had, shockingly, to be devoted to more important things, like answering work emails.

But at last I have had a free moment to find an online Australian slang dictionary and I am here to tell you that “Manchester” is Australian slang for linens—you know, sheets, towels, that sort of thing. When I told DP the answer he looked at me blankly and then the light of illumination spread across his face. “Because that’s where all the cotton mills were!” he exclaimed.

Of course.


KJ said... Best Blogger Tips

Who knew? Manchester: Not just a UK city and great Beautiful South song. Only DP could bust out with that historical Eureka moment. Awesome. Hope you're stocking up on some fine household linens.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

I know, it's such a quintessentially historian thing to say, isn't it?

JacquelineC said... Best Blogger Tips

Wow - how nice to discover you! Thanks for stopping by my blog. How in the world did you find me?

I did write a couple of posts on your new home and in particular Justin North.

JacquelineC said... Best Blogger Tips

oops - that kind of was commentus interruptus, eh?

And, I also wrote about Pavlova. But - mostly wanted to say nice blog! I have enjoyed the first few posts I've read (and I did not grow up with, but do love Marmite - umami -bomb!) and look forward to more. As well, looking forward to your Teach a Man to Fish entry! Please pass the word - woefuly underrepresented from those down under. Now if you'll excuse me, must go press my Manchester...(ha! as if!)

- Jackie

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