• March 22, 2010
  • Georgia Keighery
  • Blog

I have come to appreciate that my mind is a small yet enjoyable place. I’m not given to expansive thought so much as tiny delight. Recently, I found myself in Edinburgh, Scotland. Me and my little mind. Edinburgh is a place I’d always wanted to visit, and as I had expected, my mind crackled audibly as I stood in front of buildings that were built in the 1600s – for an Australian, it’s difficult to comprehend that kind of history in a structure. It hurt my tiny mind in a wonderful way. The beauty and history dripped from every facade and the layers of hundreds of years of human life were palpable. It was awesome.

The most resonant thing I came away with however, was a little piece of information that a tour guide shared with us. On a nighttime tour of the underground vaults of the city (“the city of the dead”) our charismatic tour guide explained the city’s lack of sewage system hundreds of years ago. The city was surrounded by a wall enclosing it in an area half a mile by a mile wide. With crowded residential structures that towered 9 stories high (2 stories underground and 7 above), and no sewage pipes, as our guide put it, “the street were filled with excrement – literally”.

In his divine Scottish accent, our guide then proceeded to explain the way that the “toilet” worked. It was a bucket in the corner of the room, which, once filled, was taken to a window (if you lived on or above the 3rd floor) and emptied out the window. Before emptying the bucket out the window, the carrier would lean out and yell “Gardyloo!” to warn people passing underneath that it was about to rain excrement! I honestly think it’s an admirable thing that there was some warning. I do. And it’s childish I know, but as soon as he’d told this tale the word kept repeating in my mind.

I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since – Gardyloo (gär’ dè lòò’). There’s something that has stuck with me about the possible applications of this Scottish declaration … “Look out below! There’s a shower of feces on it’s way!”

Think of how one could revel in the use of the word: when you’re telling me that it’s nothing personal, but my loan application has been declined … Gardyloo! Or, when I’m about to tell you it was the train and not my oversleeping that made me late … Gardyloo! Or, when the recorded voice at British Telecom says my call is important … Gardyloo! … Oh so many reasons to yell out this marvelous word!

What I really love is the opportunity that this word opens up for us to celebrate bullsh*t. There’s so very much of it around. And often times, there’s nothing wrong with it per se. It is the fertilizer upon which many good things grow. However, it is important, I think, to point it out sometimes. Too often we see a whole load of bollocks and refrain from saying anything. Too often it’s uncomfortable or impolite to point at the bull-dust and call it what it is. But every now and again, it is titillating and downright liberating to declare out loud that what’s raining down in front of you is complete sh*t. It’s celebratory. Quite often the fantastic stories and little half-truths are far more enjoyable than the truth. If done right, then acknowledging that falsehood can be a sort of salute: “That’s a load of dung – and that’s okay – but I know that it is, and I’m going to call it that!”. Hoorah! Gardyloo!

It is possible that I need to grow up, and should be ashamed that I could come away from such a divine place being so excited by this one word. Gardyloo. It’s also possible, that at some point today, or this week, or this month, you may find yourself in a position where tilting your head back and yelling “Gardyloo!” is the only reasonable thing to do. I encourage you to yell it. Just once. With a smile on your face. Salute the showering mess. Gardyloo!

19 comments on “Gardyloo

  1. I too have always loved the word!
    It’s fantastic!

    Try yodelling “GARDI, GARDI, GARDI, GARDI, LOOOOOOOOOOoooOOO”……..yummy!

    Remember, the world may be your oyster but just keep your eye on the pearl.

    Love you,
    Pappa Bear

  2. Aaahhh! I have a whole new understanding of what Arts NSW did to CCDNSW when they pulled their 2010 funding. But they didn’t yell Gardyloo! They said not a word.
    They silently opened the window on the 9th floor of No 119 Elizabeth Street Sydney and chucked a very large bucket of total crap and piss over 4 very good, hard working people and over a whole sector of extraordinary artists that work with communities.
    Yes they did, and we will have payback. We are collecting the bucket as we speak.

  3. Wow reading this first thing on a Monday in the corporate walls of work – I think this wonderful word will come in very handy at many points today!

    Lots of love,


  4. Dear Georgia,
    Please send medication for your mother. She is very bitter and the limoncello isn’t helping any more. Or perhaps it is the limoncello that’s making her bitter!
    AND she doesn’t seem to be able to wash off the last bucketload from those above who didn’t yell Gardyloo.
    Very unattractive.
    I’m apologising for the smell on her behalf. It WILL wear off though.

  5. And that was only 400 or so years ago. I couldn’t possibly imagine how we will be disposing of our ‘Gardyloo’ in 400 more. When you think about it, wiping our bums with a piece of paper is still pretty archaic. But still, we are animals after all!

  6. Yes Gardyloo! Indeed! Here comes another load of shite from Uncle Marco. Have just come back from a course in Melbourne, and a visit to your cousin, my daughter, of course. It’s a strange feeling to be in a room with a member of one’s family and yet be so completely invisible. Not to mention inaudible. Just an ethereal nuisance, a sub-clinical irritation on the blurred edge of perception. I suppose it’s better than being shouted at. So I oughtn’t to complain. You, Chettie, in contrast, are often so effusively welcoming, apparently attentive and interested. I realize that yours is completely counterfeit, a tribute to your training and skill in stage-craft. It even looks real in close-up, I can almost smell the sincerity. Once you’ve got the sincerity, well, you can do anything convincingly. Grief, innuendo, disdain, toxic shock, deep venous thrombosis, the Gulf of Carpentaria. All the ersatz emotions! Whereas with that cousin, it’s a wall of used blancmange in a sound-proof room. The sort of IGNORE you do in capitals. Don’t know how I earned it but there it is. Am hoping that I’ll be allowed to relate to a grandchild one day…
    Anyway, that’s enough of this miserable whining shite. Am really writing to say that Bunx told me we may be meeting you at Palermo Punta Raisi airport the afternoon of Friday 30th. April. Is this true? Could it be? May we be in Italy together? Even more, in Salina? Mamma mia, i miracoli si fanno ancora! As we say in that foreign tongue. We shall be pacing that Arrivals court like two Australian uncles in Sicily. Pacing, pacing! “Quando vienera la nepota?”We shall be asking each other. “Quando arrivera l’aereo!” We shall be replying to each other. Pacing can be fun if you have comfortable shoes and a bright or joyous countenance. We shall have two of each! E poi ci passiamera a Santa Marina col’ treno e aliscafo. Che gioia! Che divertimenti!
    Anyway, just look for three things: Uncles, Comfortable Shoes, Pacing and Countenances. Four things.
    We both love you, each one more than the other, but I speak for your Uncle Bunx, too. Couldn’t that turn into a word-spiral!

  7. My goodness! How often I ponder the proliferation of total bullsh*t and feel inclined to just tell the truth, no matter what that’s going to mean for my clients, my employer, my friends, my family. I usually don’t but geez, it’s tempting.

    I love this story Georgia. You have a gift for cutting through crap. I gardy-lute you. x

  8. I have added that to my vocab immediatley! Its hilarious! I believe said quietly, almost under ones breath in a sarcastic manner will have the most sattisfying effect.


  9. @ Mad Mary Lee – [yodeling] GARDY GARDY GARDYLOOOOoooOOOooo! … Oh you’re so right! A wise man once told me that the apple of his eye would be the peach with the biggest pear … or was it pair? … or was it pearl?

    @ Sven – Is the other word “delightful”?

    @ Clare – Oh lovely lady I only hope that the word gardyloo did indeed come in handy?! It’s just so damned useful!

    @ Vikookie – Never blame the Limoncello my dear, and NEVER speak badly of my Mother. She is delightful and perfect in every way. Tell her that when you see her. And tell her I took all her medication myself.

    @ Azman – … but, I called you!

    @ Deb Kay Fox – Yell it darling Deb!! And point, point, point honey!!

    @ Rainbow-Pants – Very true my friend. But we are human animals, and have therefor developed the species-specific ability to produce verbal-gardyloo (I’m a very good case-in-point!). It makes us very special animals indeed.

    @ Mark LoSchiavo – Oh Uncle, I refuse to believe that could be ignored. You are a man who can effortlessly use the words “thrombosis”, “ersatz”, “blancmange” and “shite” in a single paragraph! Who can help but pay attention?? I love you (with my own brand of “apparently attentive interest”).

    @ Em – Oh Miss Em, I gardy-lute you right back! You’re one of the truly good ones, and they’re in very short supply! I love your work Lady – it is totally fertilizer-free!

    @ Katie Kate – It’s like a novelty toy!

    @ Jono – I didn’t know that! I love it! My my, we do seem to rain all manner of excretion from above – bless us!

    @ Bev Malzard – Hi Bev! I hope you find an enjoyable gardyloo opportunity (they’re definitely out there!). I’m a big fan of your site by the way – gorgeous!

    @ Kate Williamson – Ow yes! Raising one eyebrow while you say it adds another element too! … As does slipping in the phrase “like Brussel Sprouts”. 😉

    @ Kristo – Oh Lady, yell it at it – call the day what it is at the top of your lungs – “GARDYLOO!!”

  10. Thanks Peter – I’m a big fan of your work. I’ve come over all proud that you’ve visited. Hope you can make use of “gardyloo” … Look out sports fans!

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