Nicknames? Mine your business!
he first thing that happens when you step into a mine it seems, is that you are given a nickname. John West, a recent visitor to The Lodge Outback Motel and a former employee at the North Mine says “A lot of blokes were only ever known by their nicknames”.
The more you hated your nickname the more people would use it. The nickname usually came from your name or your status or something you were famous for.
In general terms, if your name was Warren you’d be called “Rabbits”
One of the blokes was called ‘Taxi’ because he talked so much he drove everybody home, says John.
There’s a touch of irony in Aussie nicknames also. People with red hair were called ‘Bluey’, with no hair, ’Curly’, and with lots of hair, ‘Baldy’.
Grapevines grew underground in Broken Hill mines
News spread fast underground with blokes travelling between levels in the cage and spreading rumours. This was the ‘grapevine’,
John West says “After the cage took you to your level, you went to the Crib Cuddy and had what they called an adjustment period to get used to the dark. Well, that was bulldust — the areas were lit up by fluoro’s. It was just another time to play cards and tell stories”.
Anyway, John continued, “ ‘Tommy The Tout’ was a bloke who ran the cage and he was the resident rumour monger!!”
Being amused and intrigued by John’s tales, I sent out a search through the network of past Broken Hill miners to see what nicknames were around in those days. Here are some of them.
“Mudguards” was bald — smooth and shiny on top and all shit underneath.
“Rhubarb” used to give everybody the shits.
“Truthful” always told bullshit stories.
“Boom Boom” was known for putting explosives down warrens to catch rabbits.
“Shitty” got his name from cleaning the toilets.
“Rooster” was married to a clucky woman and he sired a whole clutch of kids.
“Singlets” was a boss who was always on your back.
“The Book” thought he knew everything.
What I wonder is what nickname you would give to a bloke called ‘Nick’. Maybe ‘Off’?
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