The bucks’ – and the groom’s speech

YourLifeChoices’ 91-year-old columnist Peter Leith is on a mission to document key aspects of Australian life back then. The bucks’ – and the hens’ – are enduring traditions.


Suburban Adelaide, mid-1960s. Most of the young men at the bucks’ worked together in the Kelvinator head office buildings on Anzac Highway at Keswick. No ‘social stratification’ here. Clerks, apprentices, skilled trades and sales people mix and mingle seamlessly.

The groom-to-be – tall, fair-haired, good-looking, clean-shaven, short back and sides as befitted that time and place – was making his ‘thank you’ speech to those present for both their presence and their presents.

He is slightly glazed of eye and slurred of speech, due perhaps to the ‘Coolabah Claret’ – 7/6 a flagon for the groom with the remains in a glass in his left hand.

Several times in a sincere but slightly meandering speech he thanks us all for our friendship and invites us to a future meal in their soon-to-be newly-weds home. He warns us that as they will not at first be fully equipped, it might be necessary for each of us to come equipped with our own … “nigh-fourken-spewin”.

Perhaps because I, too, have sampled the Coolabah Claret, I have to ask a mutual friend and colleague for a translation. Patiently and slowly, he explains to me that the words are “knife, fork and spoon”.

Have you been to your fair share of bucks’ or hens’ parties? Were they rowdy good-humoured affairs? Have they changed over the decades? Have they perhaps become tamer? If you have a story or an observation for Peter, send it to [email protected] and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.

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Written by Peter Leith


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