Old Bastards

20 Dec

cartoon of an Old Bastard

In many cultures to call someone a “bastard” is to court injury or death.

Among Americans, for example. They can take the word literally and invariably assume you have questioned the legality of their parent’s marital status.

Not so among Aussies. To us, the word, bastard, is rarely taken literally; it is, more often than not, a term of affection when used loosely in male company, or it attempts to describe what variety of relevant bastard you appear to be in the estimation of your friends, partners, colleagues and peers.

For instance, one hears: “He’s not a bad old bastard.” Or: “I like the old bastard.” Even: “He’s a cranky/miserable/stingy/likable/funny old bastard,” etc.

The adjective is typically a descriptive term indicating a personality trait as observed by judgemental or nosey old bastards.

Back in the late 1960s a group of men and women founded an organisation which they called “The Australasian Order Of Old Bastards.”

Their watchword is: “Whilst ever hops grow on this earth … let not plain water mar our mirth.”

The Old Bastards was officially registered under its full name as a charity on July 5, 1973.

The leader was Leo Bradshaw, known affectionately as “The Arch Bastard.”

Leo started as a member of the International Order of Old Bastards, founded by an American who was based in Australia during the Second World War, and who was amazed with Aussies who said ‘Hello, you old bastard,“and were being affectionate, not insulting.

Leo started the Australasian Order Of Old Bastards in 1968. The main difficulty was the name itself, with some sceptics asking: “What will the good people of the community think?”

In due course, after contributing thousands of dollars to worthy causes, the organisation of joviality, good fellowship and charity was officially accepted by the Chief Secretary of New South Wales.

Basically, the objective of the group was to raise funds for needy community causes.

Today, the A.O.O.B. membership is well in excess of 411,700 strong, including in its ranks politicians, police, governors, professional people of all varieties, as well as ordinary working people and unemployed.

Life time membership costs 15 dollars.

For instance, in the small West Australian coastal town, Carnarvon, under the worthy leadership of Johnny Wheelock, the A.O.O.B’s, between July 1, 2003 – June 30, 2004, contributed $19,210 to local needy community groups, an effort they have maintained for over ten years. Nationally, over the same period, huge amounts of money have been raised for, and released to, local charities all over the country.

To date, the Old Bastards, Australia-wide, have contributed in excess of $4,375,367.91 to Seeing-Eye dogs, Heart Foundations, city and regional hospitals, ambulance services, senior citizens’ homes by running chook (poultry) raffles, cake stalls, etc.

A.O.O.B. membership does, however, have certain specific qualifications, such as:

1. Marital state of parents irrelevant.

2. It is sufficient to have been acclaimed at least once by friends as an Old Bastard.

3.Drinking habits must be hearty and jovial.

4. On encountering other Old Bastards in a bar one must administer a heart slap on the back, accompanied with the cheerful salutation, “Hello, you Old Bastard.”

5. Membership card must be carried at all times. Failure to produce same when challenged by fellow Old Bastards incurs a penalty of one round of drinks.

Leo Bradshaw was honoured by the queen in 1982 for service to the community, particularly children’s welfare. Leo M.B.E., the Arch Bastard and Founder, passed away on August 4, 1992. The Leo Bradshaw Renal Research Laboratory at The Children’s Hospital, Westmead (Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children) was named in his memory.

One humorous Old Bastard, Sam Weller, even wrote a book about the unusual organisation, titled “Old Bastards I Have Met.”

Sam observed: “ … I have NEVER seen a more larrikin turnout in my life … and, paradoxically, a more efficient one.”

He said the general membership was “the greatest collection of unconfused, uncomplicated blokes you’d find anywhere …”

The Australian novelist, John O’Grady, once wrote of Australia’s bastards thus:

“Bastard! … An extremely useful noun, as valuable to Australians as the coconut is to the Polynesians.

“You will be told that it is a ‘term of endearment.’

“Friends (male) greet each other with phrases like, ‘Hello, y’old bastard, what’re ya drinkin?’ Or ‘Where ya been, y’old bastard?’ The privilege, however, is reserved for friends.

“Any stranger who refers to an Australian as a bastard will need reinforcements.

“You may, if you feel like it, refer to yourself as being a ‘bit of a bastard’. And definition will be accepted. If you hear a third person, in his absence, described as being a bastard, the word will not be a term of endearment.

“There is a vast difference between friendly bastards and unfriendly bastards, and there are many kinds of bastards in between. The best kind is your friend.

“Then there’s the fellow who’s ‘not a bad poor bastard,’ and the one who is a ‘harmless poor bastard’; and the one who is a ‘poor stupid bastard’ – all of whom are ‘not bad bastards when you get to know ‘em.’

“But the fellow referred to as ‘that bastard’ is indeed a proper bastard, to be avoided if possible.

“And the worst kind of all is the “useless bludgin’ bastard’ who is, fortunately, rare. Useless bludgin’ bastards have no friends at all.

“Until (and if ever) you become familiar with all the shades of meaning given to the word ‘bastard’, it will be better for you to leave it out of your conversation.

“Otherwise you may acquire a reputation for being a ‘know-all bastard’, which will mean that you know nothing at all.

“Discuss the word, if you like, with anybody. But don’t use it about anybody.”

Other random interpretations for those in quest of knowledge are as follows:

YOU OLD BASTARD … Roughly translates as: “You’re me mate and a cunning one at that.”

ORDINARY OLD BASTARD … Person of nondescript nature, unextraordinary, rather colourless personality and generally devoid of most appealing characteristics.

POOR BASTARD … Really means: “You’re a stupid fool.” Or: “You rightfully are worthy of the most profound sympathy due to your impoverished stature.”

FUNNY BASTARD … Means: “I can’t work you out, but you’re still me mate.” Or: “You’re a comical fella.”

YOU’RE A BRIGHT BASTARD … Really means: “You’re a stupid dick-head” Or “Your intellectual faculties are far below standard or what is commonly regarded as acceptable by clever bastards like myself.”

A FAIR BASTARD … Completely untrustworthy, lacking all moral equilibrium.

LOUSY BASTARD … Your capacity for generosity is only equalled by your excruciatingly, and unforgivable, stinginess.

PRICKLY BASTARD … Overly sensitive or easily offended.

A BIT OF A BASTARD … This intimates that the bastard in question has a tendency to be untrustworthy.

BLUDGING BASTARD … Usually a derogatory aspersion alluding to a bloke’s parasitical or slothful attitudes.

PAINFUL OLD BASTARD … A specimen of humanity who is extremely difficult to suffer or tolerate.

CHEEKY BASTARD … One overly endowed with inflated sense of self-esteem.

STINKING (or) ROTTEN BASTARD … Despite the descriptive adjectives, this does not necessarily imply an odorous condition, but more one of objectionable substance.

CRANKY OLD BASTARD … Individual of obnoxious demeanour, exhibiting unpleasant anti-social characteristics and inappropriate attitudes.

SEXY BASTARD … One whose libido is overly active or afflicted with exaggerated erotic imagination and capacity.

GREASY BASTARD … Means: “I wouldn’t trust ya as far as I could kick ya.”

GOOD (or) NICE OLD BASTARD … You’re the type who helps little old ladies, confused nuns and stray dogs.

DEAD SET BASTARD … “Quite frankly … You’re a bastard … a bloody bastard … and a fair dinkum bloody bastard at that!”

The headquarters of the “Australasian Order of Old Bastards” is based at P.O. Box 2686, Southport, Queensland, Australia, 4215.


Posted by on December 20, 2010 in Uncategorized


7 responses to “Old Bastards

  1. wonkywizard

    July 28, 2017 at 1:50 am

    Do the young and new immigrant Aussie understand the shifting meaning? An old post, but still interesting read.

    • aussieian2011

      August 11, 2017 at 12:37 pm

      Sorry for the late response my friend, been having a few medical problems lately, topped off with an Angiogram which turned out all clear, will be heading off to Chile next Wednesday for 7 weeks. Look forward to reading your great poetic posts on my return.
      Our Australian slang is slowly disappearing these days, I think new immigrants would interpret the word Bastard in its basic form and probably take offence.
      Cheers and Best wishes.

  2. Sue Dreamwalker

    December 26, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I’m just trying to work out Emu, Just how many different kinds of ‘Bastards’ I know!! lol and theres a fair few on that list of yours LOL!!!!…..
    Nice to know I know I a Friendly Feathered ONE!… Lots of Love Emu my Old….. Mate… Now would I call you an Old ‘B’….. naaaaaarrrrh….. hehe!!!!….

  3. Lady Jude

    December 20, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Give me a bit of a giggle

  4. prenin

    December 20, 2010 at 8:21 am

    How I wish we had them over here!!! 🙂

    Merry Christmas my good friend!!! (just in case!!!) LoL!!!


  5. Beth Marie

    December 20, 2010 at 1:20 am

    LOL!! Great post. I am so glad you defined the word ‘bastard’ for me.

  6. ckpeacemaker

    December 20, 2010 at 12:37 am

    Boy, this is a good read, Ian…so…no women allowed, eh?


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