Many years ago, when Wilma the Walrus and I had done with slaughtering dinosaurs in the back garden (that’s an indication of how long ago – and how long our children think it must have been), we went on a big overseas holiday.

Part of this involved a bus tour around bits of Europe. As you do.

Along the way we had to take a ferry across the English Channel. We were both seasick, but eventually found some seats roughly in the middle where the constant upping and downing from the swell was a bit reduced, and dozed off.

Now you know how it is when you have a nap in the day… noises become part of the dreams. I was dreaming of a giant fly, buzzing around, Bzzzz…  Brrrrr…. Grrrr…. Bzzzz…. Eventually I woke up enough to realise this was actually a rather large American chap, about 60 or so years old, about 10 metres away, and talking. Well… droning.

My first thought was to be thankful we would soon arrive and be away from that guy.

Imagine then, my reaction to find he was on the same bus tour and we had him, sitting down the back of the bus, droning on, for the next 2 weeks.

I never found his name, but I christened him ‘Mort’. He looked like a Mort.

Mort would sit down the back, always in the same seat, and doze during the days when he was not droning on and boring somebody to death. When he wasn’t droning or boring, his most common utterance was “Is it tahm ta eat?”

Naturally there were a bunch of Aussies as well, all slightly ratbag, as is the way. I was talking to some of them and called this guy ‘Mort’ in conversation. “Who’s Mort?”, they asked. I pointed him out. I never explained that Mort was my name for him.

(you can see where this is going)

Some time later, I overheard one of them talking to him: “No, Mort, the Roman ruins are over there…” or something like that. Mort looked confused…. who was this Mort guy this other mad aussie was referring to?

Wally rapidly did the exit-stage-left.


Oh I love ‘Mort’, it captures the character perfectly. It is hard to not let it bite you in the arse later though. ….I happen to know that ‘Bulldog and Skeletor’ are names that have stuck around UniSA longer than I was allowed to!

Query – what did ‘Mort’ do for a living?

Comment by Kath Lockett | August 20th, 2008 1:42 pm | Permalink

The unfortunate inhabitants of the USA have a voice timbre that seems to [mostly] cut through background noise like a hot knife through butter. This makes them stand out in crowds as you can hear them from anywhere and every word they are saying whether you want to or not. I do remember one lovely couple from the USA when we were touring Turkey some years ago. Ed was a retired Industrial Engineer with a passion for public transport and you had to lean close to him to hear what he was saying. Everywhere we went, Ed would be off with his equally lovely and quiet wife exploring the public transport systems. But what most impressed me was that when I said we came from Adelaide, he instantly outlined the main components of our public transport system [Bay tram and the O-bahn] and asked some intelligent questions.
Thankfully, they are not all like Mort but alas, so many are.
But later on the same trip, we were travelling up the coast of California with a mixed touring party and were sitting behind two ladies[?] from NSW one of whom was most unpleasant. I christened her ‘Captain Beaky’ after her nose and a character in a children’s book. This stuck with a few of the other Australians in the know and it was very difficult to keep a straight face anywhere near her. It must run in the family I think. Come to think of it, I never did find out her real name.


Comment by Dad | August 21st, 2008 2:42 pm | Permalink

I never did find Mort’s real name, or occupation for that matter :)

Comment by Wally | August 21st, 2008 5:27 pm | Permalink

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