A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Friday, August 19, 2005

We're All Mates Now!

In Australia, the Prime Minister, John Howard, has put his foot down over the ban within Parliament's buildings of the use of the word "Mate". After a complaint from a civil servant about informality, guards were told to address everyone as "sir" or "madam".
But the Prime Minister said barring the classic Australian greeting was "absurd and ridiculous". Other politicians were equally dismissive of the drive for gentility. "It's pomposity gone mad," said former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke, praising the term's flexibility and "nice neutrality". And one of Mr Howard's Liberal Party colleagues, backbencher Bob Baldwin said "I have never seen anything so criminal in all my life. It's part of the Australian vernacular. It's a term of endearment and of mateship."

Well, we all know Australians have used the term "Mate" for a long time! In England, it's more of a challenge! Nowadays, if one walks into a shop, the greeting is more than likely to be "you alright, mate?" which comes across a bit like "what do you want?". The use of "sir" or "madam" is quite quickly leaving our vernacular!

Tony Hancock had an Australian lodger in his fictional abode (the great Bill Kerr) who, by calling Hancock "Tub" and generally being familiar, reduced Hancock to using "mate" as a term of abuse!! Also, Sid James, often used the word as a leveller against Hancock's perceived pomposity! Here is a classic line!

Hancock: I believe the postman has called, go and fetch the letters in.
Sid: You go and get them, what do you think I am? A lackey or something?
Hancock: Until such time as you can pay for your room and board, yes. If you don't like it you can load up your barrow and leave.
Sid: Just wait mate, just wait. One good night at the Dogs and I'm gone.

"Can I help you, sir?" "No thanks, mate, I'm just looking!" Wow, it's catching!!



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