ducks, boars and goats

Australia’s early settlers were mostly a bunch of criminals transported here against their will. When they had served their time many chose to stay on but some set sail for cities such as San Francisco

Not before or since had the Americans seen a criminal element so vicious or all powerful as the Sydney Ducks, the blood stained streets of Prohibition era Chicago tame by comparison to the terror these Australians unleashed on San Francisco.

read about Sydney’s Duck Fashion show here

Two of the more infamous pubs were ‘The Boar’s Head‘ and ‘Goat & Compass‘, the first run by former NSW convict George Haggerty who attracted crowds by getting one of his prostitutes to have sex with a boar on stage. The second, owned by another Sydney ex-con, paid down and out Aussie prospector ‘Dirty’ Tom McAlear to eat and drink excrement to entertain crowds. McAlear made a living eating anything people gave him for 10c, when he was arrested in 1852 for bizarre public behavior he told police he had been continually drunk for seven years and hadn’t bathed in that period of time either.

image found here

According to the reverend Cogham Brewer, writing around 1900, much of a nation’s history, and more of its manners and feelings, may be gleaned from its public-house signs. Here are a few of the more interesting ones….

Bosom’s Inn. A public-house sign in St. Lawrence Lane, London; a corruption of Blossom’s Inn, as it was later called, in allusion to the hawthorn blossoms surrounding the effigy of St Lawrence on the sign.

The Cat and Fiddle. A corruption of Caton Fidele i.e. Caton, the faithful governor of Calais. In Farringdon (Devon) is the sign of La Chatte Fidele in commemoration of a faithful cat, Without scanning the phrase so nicely, it may simply indicate that the game of cat (trap-ball) and a fiddle for dancing were provided for customers.

The Cock and Bottle. By some said to be a corruption of the ‘Cork and Bottle’, meaning that wine was sold there in bottles.

The Cow and Skittles. The cow is the real sign, and alludes to the dairy of the hostess, or some noted dairy in the neighbourhood. Skittles was added to indicate that there was a skittle ground on the premises.

“Soft Serve” by Dan Lydersen

The Hole-in-the-Wall. So called because it was approached by a passage or ‘hole’ in the wall of the house standing in front of the tavern.

The Queer Door. A corruption of Coeur Dore (Golden Heart).

The Ship and Shovel. Referring to Sir Cloudesley Shovel, a favourite admiral in Queen Anne’s reign.

Have my English readers got any they want to add?

Published in: on January 5, 2010 at 7:39 am  Comments (40)  
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