It seems I can’t go in far in Bendigo without the misplaced tag of ‘Pom’ being aimed in my direction. I’m Welsh and proud of it. Certainly, my accent is English rather than the songful tones of Welsh (the product of a Nomadic military background and public school, I’m afraid) but just as impossible it is for me to distinguish the regional differences of the Australian language, so too can it be said of the Aussies and the regional dialects of the British Isles. English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh, Brummie, Cockney, Glaswegian or Valleys’, they are all English to our antipodean cousins (or should that be ‘antipodal’?).
While this all encompassing, if inaccurate label causes no offence to me, it does to some. This is especially so when preceded by ‘whinging’ or ‘bloody’ and whilst the precise etymology eludes me, it is worth noting that even the Australians are unsure of exactly where or how the word ‘Pom’ originated.
This seemingly innocuous little word can and does become considerably more offensive with a change of inflection and an accompaniment of choice vulgar adjectives. The phrase transforms from a jovial term of endearment or playful jibe, to vitriolic slander meant to pique one’s good nature.
And so I find myself explaining that I am in fact Welsh and not English (British, if the concept seems too hard to grasp due to a long night in the company of alcohol) with alarming regularity and when I occasionally do have a moan, I begin by explaining this fact in the hope I might avoid being referred to as a ‘bloody whinging Pom’. This often saves a great deal of unnecessary protracted conversation afterwards on such topics as the British Empire, the Prince of Wales, the Celts, the Queen, the Welsh Language, the Welsh Assembly, Margaret Thatcher, rugby, the precise location of Wales, cricket and Tom Jones.
An acceptable alternative to ‘Pom’ would be to use the tag ‘Brit‘ instead. It’s short (and we all know how Aussies love to shorten every word in the Australian English dictionary and then some), easy to spell but above all, accurate. It should be pointed out that the nationality of everyone holding a UK passport is in fact British and not English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh!