This morning I was listening to Macca on Australia All Over, when I heard the expression “as blind as a welder’s dog”. I’d never heard it before, but it immediately struck me as one of those out-of-left-field but wonderfully apt phrases. It’s like “muffin top” to describe those (usually young) people whose jeans are done up tightly around their waist, with a roll of fat hanging out all round — just like a muffin which spreads out over the top edge of the cup-cake holder.
Of course, I thought! A welder’s dog will look at the dazzling light produced by the welding process, which we adults don’t do because we know it will damage our eyes. But the poor dog will keep doing it until it turns blind.
It got me thinking about similes (expressions where one thing is said to be like another), of which there must be many thousands in common use. Many are quite pedestrian, but some are wonderfully graphic and evocative.
Here are a few which I assume are probably Australian in origin:
- to shoot through like a Bondi tram (to depart rapidly)
- as game as Ned Kelly
- as sweet as a Mike Hussey cover drive
- as dry as a Pommie’s bath mat
- as miserable as a bandicoot
- madder than a gum tree full of galahs
- he’s built like a brick dunny (very solidly built and hard to knock over)
- as fit as a Mallee bull
- as keen as mustard
- sadder than a Werribbee duck (Werribee, in Melbourne, is I gather home to a very large sewage farm)
A few other colourful similes whose origin I don’t know:
- like a rat up a drain pipe
- it goes like the clappers (it moves fast)
- sticks like poo to a blanket
- she was all over him like a rash
- like trying to herd cats
- as mad as a cut snake
- as cunning as a dunny rat
- as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike
- he went off like a bucket of prawns in the sun
- as flash as a rat with a gold tooth
- as popular as a snake in a sleeping bag
- as busy as a one-armed paperhanger with hives
- it handles like a dog on lino (talking about a car)
- better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick
- as happy as a dog in a hub cap factory
- as funny as a kick in the head
There are of course many others, and they all help to keep our conversation colourful and interesting.
You may care to mention (in a comment) some of your favourites, although I’m not wanting to provide a forum for the many risque and bawdy ones.