A Dear Friend of Mine Is A Slapper

a 50s style housewife with hair rolls gossiping in a red vintage phone
Haven’t got anything nice to say?  Come sit next to me.

She’s not really.  I just liked the heading and thought it a great attention grabbing title!  Plus I know when she reads it she’ll think: “that fucktard, I can’t believe she actually wrote that”.

Anyway.  Last weekend on a sunny, windy, slightly hung over Sunday I sat with friends. A bottle of Rose and a bag of Red Rock Deli, Sea Salt and Balsamic Vinegar potato chips, the perfect accompaniment to a download and sharing of the weekends events. Amongst the chook-like clucking and chatter, there is sporadic discussion on shoes, food and pubic hair.  There is mention of last nights bonfire, some discussion on the best way to strap an Achilles tendon and a good sprinkling of excitement regarding the following weekends getaway to Adelaide. There is one topic, however, that captures everyone’s attention.  One little group of words that,once mentioned, have everyone on the edge of their seat, mouths shut, ears pricked forward –

‘Oh my god, did you hear about….’

Now before you get all uppity I know, I know, gossip is for the idle mind, it is the devils radio, conversation for simpletons.  According to Socrates, ‘Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people’.

I disagree with the great man and quite frankly… I love it.  I can’t think of a better way to while away a lazy Sunday afternoon than with a nice bottle of wine, some trusted friends and a good old bitch session.  Gossip in a small town like Robe is just not the same as the type you might experience in a city.  Every single character in every single story is known to you.  Some of the time the main character is a relation, some of the time they might be an ex, some of the time they are both?:) It’s not the actual facts (if you can call them that) that lure you in.  It’s the open-mouthed gawps,  a case of the giggles, the ‘no ways’, the punch in the arm, the ‘get out of here’s’ that titillates the group and has everyone reeling for breath between guffaws and gasps.  It’s just good fun, don’t kid yourself that it’s anything more sinister than that.

I’ve endured the other end, don’t worry. I’ve run off to Adelaide for an affair or two, I’ve left my husband and children for a woman, I’ve sold our business, hell I’ve even won lotto – TWICE (if that’s the case I’d like to know which one of you bastards took all the money).  My rumored life is way more exciting than my real one and I sit comfortably with the stories.

My ability to laugh at local gossip is a learnt behavior so  if you are thinking of moving to Robe, South Australia, I’d like you to peruse my ‘Scuttlebutt Act of 2003’. Once you’ve chosen a location, organised employment and housing, enrolled in schooling and decided that ‘schizophrenic weather’* is a pleasant daily surprise you must also take into consideration:

The Scuttlebutt Act of 2003


Pidgeon: An individual who is the main character of Scuttlebutt.

Monger: An individual who relays Scuttlebutt to others.

Turn: A set time where the Pidgeon is the current topic of Scuttlebutt by Mongers.

Local: A resident of Robe with a minimum of four generational residencies.

Blow In: A newly arrived resident of Robe who has no obvious generational history


All those contemplating residence in Robe shall accept that:

  1. Small towns love a Pidgeon to gossip about.
  2. If you are going to reside in a town of 1800 people at some point it is going to be your turn to be said Pidgeon.
  3. Depending on how long you live here it may be your turn more than once.
  4. If it’s a particularly long, cold winter your turn may double.
  5. local may benefit from a lessened number of turns allocated to them.
  6. blow in may expect an unusually high number of turns during their first twelve months of residency.
  7. A blow in that quits residency suddenly may also expect an unusually high number of turns for approximately three months post departure.
  8. If you choose to drink heavily and parade naked down the street it may be your turn every month (however this is also heavily dependent on if a pigeon of higher community standing than you also gets drunk and looks worse parading naked than you do).
  9. If you choose to be ‘liberal’ with the number of partners you engage with then your turn will multiply in direct correlation to the amount of said partners.  Please note that the number of partners may be exaggerated at will of said monger.
  10. The male monger indulges in scuttlebutt as much, if not more than the female monger.

So there you are, now you know what to expect.  It’s important to keep in mind that gossip is mostly harmless.  If your partner, children and close friends like you for who you are and know your truth then you are richer than you think. When you really need the Robe community they will come out in droves to help you.  Even if some of the drove are really there just to collect information.  But like the great Alice Roosevelt Longworth once said: “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody come sit next to me.”

*Expression taken from story on Robe by A Bainger published in the Australian Traveller Magazine Aug/Sept 2015 edition,  page 80.

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