by Edwina Doe, August 2022, from Bulletin 6/2022
In June’s Glebe Society Bulletin was an article about two prime ministers with a Glebe connection – Edmund Barton and Anthony Albanese. I was reminded of Barton’s nickname, ‘Toby Tosspot’, and shared this 2017 article by Campbell Rhodes, ‘Tosspot to Bodgie: Seven Prime Ministerial nicknames’:
The first prime minister, Edmund Barton, had been known as ‘Toby’ since childhood. The Bulletin magazine named him ‘Toby Tosspot’, after a poem by George Colman, and the name stuck. It was based on Barton’s love of long dinners with more than a few glasses of fine wine – a ‘tosspot’ is a slang term for a habitual drinker. His opponents latched onto it as an insult, and continued using it long after Barton’s retirement. A nastier variant was ‘Toby Tub’, which is a kind of chair, referencing Barton’s weight and accusations of laziness.
No prizes for guessing which PM’s nickname was the (Silver) Bodgie!
Bob Hawke’s greying coiffure led to comparisons with the ‘bodgies and widgies’ of the 1950s. By the time he was Prime Minister his hair had adopted a less dramatic appearance, but the nickname ‘Silver Bodgie’ had stuck nonetheless.