I write today of "Christmas gift idea" lists, a veritable plague at this time of year, with every magazine and newspaper and newspaper magazine dripping with elaborate lists of gift ideas for your dearly beloved.

Now, it is well known that the infant Jesus received gold, frankincense and myrrh on the occasion of his birth but the extravagance of this (birthday) gift for our saviour should not be used as a benchmark for all subsequent Christmas gifts from then and into eternity.

There may be the odd person you like to really splurge on at Christmas but I'm guessing most of us are not in the position to give even those very dear few $13,000 bicycles, $5,000 bottles of scotch, $3,000 watches or $1,000 paddle boards. Or even "POA" clutches, $1,100 necklaces, $700-worth of lacy underwear, and $500 dresses and hats. [1] So why do these lists continue to include such items, year after year? [2] Who do they think reads their publications, oil tycoons and internet billionaires? 

The writers and editors of these lists need to take a good, hard look at both themselves and their subscriber base and re-think.


  1. Guess which products were sourced from a 'gifts for her' and which from a 'gifts for him' list!
  2. I'm guessing it has something to do with advertisers and conveniently-timed press releases.
Apropos of nothing, did you know that back issues of CRANK's sister publication  Materiality  are  now available for just $10 each ? (The current issue,  SURFACE , is only a little more at $15). Of interest to all genders!

Apropos of nothing, did you know that back issues of CRANK's sister publication Materiality are now available for just $10 each? (The current issue, SURFACE, is only a little more at $15). Of interest to all genders!



There’s not been much dinkum about lately. Poor dinkum, only wheeled out during election campaigns, when one candidate wants to seem more sincere, more fair, and moreover more Australian than their competitors. 

In fact you never hear the word ‘dinkum’ without ‘fair’. Dinkum is apparently always fair.

But what does ‘fair dinkum’ actually mean? ‘Fair’ means ‘fair’, obviously, in that those who are deserving get what they deserve, and ‘dinkum’ apparently means ‘fair’ or ‘true’, making ‘fair dinkum’ either somewhat of a tautology or something along the lines of ‘really fair’ or ‘truly fair’ or perhaps even ‘the true truth’. [1] In other words, it is just a rhetorical flourish to indicate the speaker really really means what they are saying and is hoping you’ll be fooled into believing them by using a phrase that was probably never actually spoken aloud by diggers, battlers or even nineteenth-century shearers, even though it sounds like the sort of thing that could have. Those that use it should really be mocked as soundly as those who use ridiculous expressions like “a fair shake of the sauce bottle”.

Well, it is time to free dinkum from its shackles. Dinkum—the fairest and truest word for all that is fair and truthful in the land—is being tarnished by people who later are found to have been making ‘non-core promises’, and it makes me sad.

Further, I hope to expand dinkum into a true Australianism, one whose precise meaning in any one situation can never truly be defined except by reference to very specific contexts, complex relationship structures and subtle body language, like our use of the word ‘bastard’.

Think of the possibilities! As an exclamation, an expression of bliss, or as a reference to a particularly fine ale—“sweet dinkum!” As an indication of troubled times, witchcraft, or attempts to betray, deceive or sabotage—“what dark dinkum is this?” As an indicator of all that is pure and unaltered, or a harsh truth—“this is the raw dinkum”. (The latter meaning could also be conveyed by the expression “cold, hard dinkum”). A wonderful cacophony or a clever and complex mischief might be referred to as “glorious dinkum”.

The possibilities are endless. Once you have started, you will not be able to stop. Save dinkum from shabby nationalism and embrace it as part of the true language of the people.


[1] There are other theories as the etymology of dinkum. Apparently fair dinkum was what ‘fair drinking’ sounded like when said by a somewhat inebriated person, but what does that even mean, really? Various internet commenters who may or may not be fair dinkum have suggested it comes from the Latin ‘Veras de cum’, shortened to ‘ver de cum’, meaning ‘with the truth’. Another theory is that the word came from Chinese gold miners, who said ‘din-gum’ or something similar when they found gold nuggets. But that internet commenter wrote in all-caps, so I doubt their veracity. Slightly more reputable sources (Melvyn Bragg) suggest it came from the English Midlands and meant work, ‘fair dinkum’ meaning a fair day’s work, and subsequently fair play.

Dinkum goes with everything, except perhaps turkey. Tomato sauce wins that round.  [Photograph of advertisement for F. Humphris & Sons tomato sauce, Adelaide and Jamestown], ca. 1910-1930. Glass plate negative. State Library of Victoria, H2009.61/59.

Dinkum goes with everything, except perhaps turkey. Tomato sauce wins that round. [Photograph of advertisement for F. Humphris & Sons tomato sauce, Adelaide and Jamestown], ca. 1910-1930. Glass plate negative. State Library of Victoria, H2009.61/59.




Think of the word “dragon”. What other words spring to mind? Scaly, perhaps, or sinewy. Powerful. Terrible and awesome. Cunning. Sleek, stocky, supple, gnarled. A dragon is an ancient thing of cunning and strength. Like a cat, its movements embody both poetry and danger. 

Now think of the words “soccer player”. (Or “football player” for anyone anywhere other than Australia and the US). What other words spring to mind? Possibly some very similar ones—sleek, supple, sinewy, powerful. Maybe not scaly or gnarled (they use too much product for that), but there is definitely some overlap. Like a cat, a soccer player’s movements embody both poetry and danger.

There exists in this world a game called Dragon City. You may have received pleading emails from Facebook friends, “inviting” you to join. Do not succumb! It is highly addictive, particularly for those of us who feel strong compulsions to complete sets, or to collect one of every kind of thing. Even I, a cheapskate, have spent $4 on in-game purchases. Those who tend to fail the Delayed Gratification Marshmallow Test would spend much, much more. Wannabe app-billionaires would do well to study the structure of Dragon City and how it feeds addiction.

In this game, you breed and hatch and collect dragons—all sorts of dragons. There’s the Flame dragon, the Jade dragon, the Burning dragon and the Star dragon. There are also some frankly ridiculous dragons—the Mojito dragon, the Gummy dragon, the Icecube dragon (I mean COME ON) and so forth. But one dragon offends above the rest.

The Soccer dragon.

Now, I like dragons. I also quite like soccer. But the Soccer dragon is an offense to both. If I was a real dragon, I would swoop down on the creator(s) of the Soccer dragon and tear out their guts. Then I would steal their huge piles of Dragon City gold and burrow into it to sleep, or swim about in it like a dragony Scrooge McDuck. If I was a real soccer player I would be more constrained by legalities but I would want to do the same.

Let us look at a picture of the Soccer dragon. What words spring to mind? Does it conform in any way to your mental image of either dragons or soccer players?

The "soccer" "dragon" in Dragon City.

The "soccer" "dragon" in Dragon City.

Of course it doesn’t. This dragon is clearly a buffoon, a hooligan. It’s wearing CLOTHES. (Dragons shouldn’t wear clothes). He has HAIR—and terrible hair, at that. (Maybe Neymar could get away with it). There is no way this dragon could lay waste to a city or devour an entire hillside of sheep. When it attacks, it kicks a stupid football at you! Ooh, scary. Far from inspiring awe and terror, this dragon inspires contempt. I take great pleasure in crushing every Soccer dragon that comes my way with my Elements dragon, Bunny, who I have trained in the Magma Attack, to which Soccer dragons are fortunately susceptible. 

The Soccer dragon is clearly popular with other Dragon City players, given the frequency with which I encounter it in battles. Each time I see it I am confounded—as to the tastes of my opponents, and the nature of people who purport to like dragons and/or soccer and yet do not see this concept as a blot upon both dragonkind and the beautiful game. Even worse, the makers of Dragon City have recently brought out MORE soccer-themed dragons for the World Cup. Being eaten is too good for them.

But here’s the rub - because I am a collector, I must possess the Soccer dragon to complete my collection. I am complicit. I hate myself as much as I hate them.