Friday, 13 July 2018
How the Marsupial got his name
In those days the ships had a look-out sailor high up on the mast, in the crow's nest, as it was called, looking out for other ships nearby and for land. When he saw land he would shout "Land Ahoy! Land Ahoy!" and the Captain would sail the ship towards it.
So this sailor, a Scotsman, Henry Baker by name, claimed that it was he who first discovered Australia and not Captain Cook; and he wanted it named after him. Because in those days, new discoveries were named either after the person who made the discovery, or the Monarch of the day: for example, Rhodesia. Victoria Falls, Straits of Magellan.
Captain Cook thought this was a half-baked idea. There is no way he would allow Australia to be named Bakerland, or Bakeland, or The Great British Bake Off, or anything to do with this impudent sailor with high ideas in life. So he locked him up in the toilet.
As the ship approached shore, Captain Cook looked on the beach with his telescope to see if this land was inhabited. To his surprise, he saw on shore a lot of creatures with short arms, and big strong legs hopping up and down to and fro. No one had seen such animals before. So he handed the telescope to his second-in-command and asked him, "What is that creature over there?"
At that very moment, Henry Baker, the Scottish sailor, woke up in the toilet, having nursed a whole bottle of whisky. He found the door locked and shouted in his broad Glasgow accent, "Ah ... Kangar ... Oot! ... Ah ... Kangar ... Oot!", meaning I cannot get out.
This sound was echoed by the other members of the crew and the second-in-command, believing that the crew knew what the creature was, said to Captain Cook, "a kangaroo!"
And that's how the kangaroo got its name.
This is a true story. If you do not believe me ask Paula "Thunder Thighs" Hillman.
I went to school with her and she told me this story. I used to carry her books to be friends with her. Ah ... the memories !!!