“wacka” A juicy rumour so important that an instant crowd of workers would gather on hearing the wacka alert whistle. No good ever came out of spreading a “wacka.”
“Like blowflies around a lump of shit” The Dago’s masterly description of a “wacka” crowd gathering and hovering around like eager to hear the latest gossip.
“Clicker” An archaic term used to describe a Leading Hand in the printing trade.
“The Long Weight” A joke played on an unsuspecting new apprentice who was sent off for a long weight. They would be left waiting for bloody ages, until the penny dropped. “Meggsy” Grunert fell for it ten times in a row.
“The Old Guv at KWR” Meaning the Old Government Printing Office in King William Road, Adelaide. It was knocked down by the Government in 1974. One hundred years of history down the drain for a bloody car park. A disgrace!
“The Netley Complex” The new Government Printing Office on Marion Road. Opened in 1974 through to the mid 1990s. Famous as the Home of the largest parquet dance floor in the Southern Hemisphere.
“Things will get better when we get to Monarto” Saying coined by Brian “Grubby” Hartshorne. Monarto was a bush area miles from Adelaide where half the population of Adelaide were to be relocated. It never happened.
“Artful Dodger” one of the young villans from Dickens “Oliver Twist,” also used by the “Flash” Woolman to describe a compulsive sickie taker, a work bludger and compo bludger.
“The Fish” Metal bar with a hook eye on the end, it was made of lead, tin and antimony and was fed by a chain into the Intertype typesetting machine’s casting pot. Apart from casting lines of type “The Fish’ were made into the most amazing range of fishing sinkers on the planet. This was illegal of course.
“The Minda Bus” a totally cruel term for anyone born in Adelaide and used to describe the Special Bus from the Adelaide Railway Station to Marion Road where the Old Guv day shift workers could be seen staggering and lurching their way down the steps of the bus.
“The Wayzgoose” Printers’ Picnic where the members of the Old Guv Chapel would travel to a picnic spot or hotel usually miles from Adelaide. Originally for men and boys the ladies and girls became part of the Wayzgoose program in the 1920s. Dinner, speeches, running races and novelty events were the order of the day.
“The Phantom Shitter” This man had the ability to block a loo with ONE continuous loop of poo. A long piece of printing wooden furniture was needed to break up the loop to enable it to be flushed away.
“The Rocket Room” Home of a monstrous vacuum driven delivery system which had a giant clear plastic rocket used to carry Hansard galley proofs across the ceilings of the Netley Complex. You could hear them rattling along a mile away just like the doodle bugs in the London blitz. Our older English comps scattered each time they heard one going over.
“The Log Cabin” A wooden add-on built between the comp room and machine room in the late 1970s. Generally populated with arse crawlers, “yes” men, bullshit artists and no hopers. It was where most of the Bosses were located.
“A Flash in the Pan” Infamous quote from the late 1960s by Brian “Jumbo” James, Govt. Printer and Frank Johnson, Printing Overseer and used by them to describe what they thought of the future of Offset Printing.
“Clang Out” When an old Comp retired his workmates would gather by their work stones and grab any metal object especially type galleys and small chases and proceed to belt the shit out of them creating an avalanche of noise to send our retiring comrade off in a respectful manner. With the advent of cold type technology the “clang outs” became a thing of the past.
“Follow copy out the window” Expression used to describe a comp setting exactly what’s in the copy even when he suspects it is incorrect. Playing it safe!
“Foreignee, buckey, foreign order” Job done done under the lap or under the counter using the company’s paper, ink and materials. Illegal of course, but endemic in the printing trade.
“It wouldn’t happen in Hot Metal” A painful and sad lament offered up by hot metal comps whenever the computer typesetter stuffed up. Eventually, this expression fell by the wayside as the new technology got better and more reliable
Caption: “Is that a wacka alert whistle we can hear in the distance?”
In the Language of the Old Guv Printing Office nothing was more important to hear the announcement of a new “Wacka”. Why?
A “wacka” was a juicy rumour so important that an instant crowd of workers would gather on hearing the wacka alert whistle.
Normally they were bullshit and no real good ever came out of spreading a “wacka.”
“Like blowflies gathering around a lump of shit.” That was Kevin “Dago” Stack-Neale’s masterly description of a “wacka crowd” gathering and hovering around eager to hear the latest gossip.
And the English Version goes like this: Whack !-When compositors are gathered together and a tall story is told, or it be doubted that the truth has been told by a speaker, a whack with the composing stick on the frame is given as an indication of unphilosophic doubt.
Hot Metal Comps. had a unique way of saying goodbye to a workmate who was retiring from the trade. There was a hell of a lot of racket in the Comp Room when it happened!
The journeyman Comps. and their Apprentices would scatter everywhere grabbing small chases, metal galleys, quoin keys, furniture or anything remotely metal and line up around the work “stone” or “stones” and wait.
Wait for what, you may ask? Yes, it was for some poor old bastard who was retiring.
The noise was deafening as the blokes went ballistic by banging away with their chases and galleys at a furious rate. It was bloody wonderful fun and a fitting tributeto the comp for his years of slaving away with lead type and ink.
Gradually with the advent of new technology the clang-out slowly subsided.
There wasn’t much fun in trying to slap two paper bromides together.
It was a bloody sad time! The trade was changing as the new technology swept over us!