Bogan: Australian slang, usually pejorative or self-deprecating, for an individual who is recognised to be from a lower class background or someone whose limited education, speech, clothing, attitude and behaviour exemplifies such a background’.
We were a family of Aussie Bogans. We wore black Fab jeans and flannelette shirts. My Dad rode motor bikes, wandered around with a pack of Winnie blues up his sleeve, and loved to drink rum. We all loved rock music. And yes – we didn’t have a lot of money.
In the 80’s we lived in a mining town called Kalgoorlie, populated by men with tattoos who road large, loud motor bikes, and came home every day from working in the mines – and having stopped at the local TAB to place a bet on the races – grotty and smelling like oil and beer. The women, well, half of them did it tough looking after their families, and rarely themselves. The other half worked in the infamous Hay Street brothels or as ‘skimpy‘ (scantily clad) barmaids.
I spent a lot of time riding my bike on the big, wide roads or gravel tracks, ‘growing’ frogs in the steel drum at my friends place, staging dance concerts to Mum on the wood pylons lying on the back yard (notably to the Bangles ‘Manic Monday’), and freaking out at the site of a monster red/orange centipede.
As kids, my brother, sister and I hung out at the pub with our folks and their friends, listening to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and The Doors, trying to imitate the adults by playing pool and darts, or wishing we could get lucky on the used bingo cards lying around the place. We also sat around the open fire in the bush at night, listening to music, the reverberations from the sounds of the motorbikes going through your chest, pretending to sleep, but really waiting for the spuds (potatoes) to cook under the ashes – only to be slathered by butter and salt and devoured.
Sure, it wasn’t paradise, and it certainly wasn’t all good, but I’m grateful for growing up the way I did. It taught me the value of money – especially thinking back to Mum skipping meals so that she could feed her three kids baked beans on toast – and then worrying about what to feed the three dogs.
It taught me not to not judge people by appearances – scruffy people, or people who rode bikes, wore black or looked rough, well they can turn out to be the most funniest, lovely or most philosophical people.
It also taught me to care for every living thing – so much so that I can’t even kill an ant. Mum and Dad brought home injured birds and lizards, we had horses. Mum tried to resuscitate a chicken once because it accidentally drowned.
But, most of all it taught me to be grateful for what I’ve got, for the family I have, to not be embarrassed of my roots, and that simple really is best.