This coming week is Graduation Week for my Arts degree. I’m not going to the ceremony. Not out of any hard feelings, I’ve just decided to save up all those passage rites and go for The Biggie at the end of my Masters in Education.

I didn’t do a full Arts degree, but I did most of one. I made up the extra units from a Masters in Creative Writing from Macquarie University. As a result, my Bachelors degree felt a little piecemeal, like I was just getting the hang of it when it had to end. Sad, really.

At my first high school, a co-educational local number, we had one teacher who would dress in his academic gown at the end of the year assembly. Just one. A languages teacher. In year seven he was my teacher for French, German and Latin. Not much French or German. And really not much Latin, either. But I do remember learning to say I feel like a Tooheys or two:

In animae habaeo en Tooheys uel duo.

If I am remembering it incorrectly, perhaps the more serious Latin scholars among my readers can assist? And while you are at it, let me know how to say Beer O’clock in Latin. That would be really useful down at the Royal. Thanks.

I feel like a Tooheys or two was the jingle for a beer ad saturating the televisual airwaves of our 13-year-old lives.

I can remember our language teacher announcing to us that the beauty of this most modern of Latin phrases was that it scanned so well it could be sung to the music of the beer jingle. And so, after a few runs through to get the pronunciation correct, that’s what we did as a class. We sang:

In animae habeo, in animae habeo, in animae habeo en Tooheys uel duo. 

Try it yourself. I’ve chosen a 1980 cricketing version of the iconic beer ad, which comes from about the time I was in year 7. It’s all historically legit:

When I look at advertising like that I wonder how I survived the levels of masculinity portrayed in media at the time. There’s even a deliberate crotch shot, for those who don’t immediately get the point of what this beer/cricket combo is mostly about. Hint: it is not about the beer.

How outrageous to teach a bunch of adolescents a beer jingle. But…here’s the educational punchline…omg I remember it even now, 35 years on! That language teacher was an educational genius! He certainly knew how to use a repertoire of effective teaching strategies to implement well-designed teaching programs and lessons (thankyou, Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards, NSW).

Now that they have invented the internet, I can tell you beyond any shadow of a doubt that a quick, googly back-translation of the beery Latin phrase he taught is:

“Or two of them, that I have added to Toohey”

I’m pleased with that. It sounds like Yoda said it. Meaning-wise it is close enough, and really quite ancient language-sounding, at least to the likes of me, with my six lessons of local highschool Year 7 Latin.

And as I remember, this language teacher was the only one with enough chutzpah to turn up to our high school Speech Day in an academic gown avec its own furry stole, symbolising his success in, as I remember, several Masters programs. And when I think of my future Graduation Day, what I find myself focussing on is the question of regalia ownership. Will I rent the academic gown or will I buy? Will I buy and wear it at Speech Day, not because I have to, not from an untamed sense of ironic distance but out of deep respect and acknowledgment for the one who taught me my first Latin phrase?

By the way, I google-translated beer o’clock into Latin, and apparently it is nona Bersabee

I’ll make sure I use the phrase next week when I am down the local, celebrating my graduation in absentia. 


[Think about buying my book, Stroke the Tiger’s Tail. All royalties go towards assisting those fleeing war and persecution. You can buy it from amazon or my createspace site.]


2 thoughts on “In Absentia

  1. Ramona … I am very proud of your achievements. Mr Davies is very successful Opera Singer & Coach in the USA, & wrote “The First Vampire” – Number 1 seller on Amazon last Christmas … Mr Cuneo

    Liked by 1 person

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