Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You do not have a Buckleys' chance with the Shielas.

Before I left the United States, Dixon Arentt and his wife Wende Chan hosted a party that some 50 close and wonderful people attended. At this party Dixon as an introduction to the land down-under, wrote and read an ode to me leaving for the land of Oz.
One of the phrases, which characteristically stuck in my mind, was the phrase "And you do not have a Buckleys' chance with the  Shieilas."

I did not know the phrase Buckley's chance. But I forgot about this phrase until I took bus tour to the Great Ocean Road and heard about Buckley's chance again. But the real tour was in researching William Buckley.

File:William Buckley.jpg

In 1803 William Buckley was convicted of knowingly receiving a bolt of stolen cloth. He was sentenced to transportation to New South Wales for 14 years. When they arrived in Port Phillip near Melbourne, Buckley and several other convicts cut loose a boat and made their escape. They quickly split up and Buckley travelling around Port Phillip Bay on his own found an aboriginal grave. He took a spear used to mark this grave which he used as a walking stick. When he came across some Wathaurung women who  believing him to be the returned spirit of the former buried tribesman, he was joyfully welcomed and adopted by the group.

For the next thirty-two years, he continued to live among the Wathaurung people on the Bellarine Peninsula. He had at least two Aboriginal wives, and almost certainly a daughter by one of them.Then in 1835 William Buckley appeared at a British camp site with a party of Aboriginal people. That same year, he was granted a pardon and given the position of Interpreter to the natives. By late 1837, Buckley had become disenchanted with his new way of life—and the people around him—and left for Van Diemen's Land. He remained there, married again, for the next nineteen years, until his death in 1856.

In my mind Buckley had a charmed life. He survived three wives, imprisonment, hunger and one of the most dangerous natural environments on earth. He was a lucky guy.

So my question to Australians is why use the term Buckleys chance to mean you "do not have a chance" when in fact Buckley was a very lucky and fortunate man. It changes the meaning of my friend's parting ode  "And you do not have a Buckelys' chance with the  Shielas." But in reality the original meaning still holds true.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe you have to determine who the"shieilas" are in order to whether he stood a chance or not?