Translation of Peter Temple's Truth in Greek, discussion - feedback

First of all I have to introduce myself.

I am George, 33, noir aficionado and translator by profession.

I 've done some titles by now, notably Burroughs' Junky, Naked Lunch, Queer and Hippos (in collaboration with Kerouac of course), Klimowski's Horace Dorlan graphic novel. Done a couple others as well.

I am currently working on translating Peter Temple's Truth in Greek, due for publication in the early summer. 

The reason for this thread is simple: as is the case with every book, there are blurry parts that are open for interpretation, while the use of Aussie language can be a sticking point. I am requesting your help and insight as native English speakers and experienced readers concerning lines that have me doubting.

Any feedback would be hugely appreciated, that said I am starting right now with the first installment!

PAGE 2: "Certainly passed on that shit-riding talent".

It the scene where Biskerts has described his grandpa's toilet bowl adventure. I have tried to make sense of what "shit-riding" is supposed to mean there but to no avail. Open for suggestions.

PAGE 13: "On the radio, Alan Machin, 3AR's drive man, said"

I have been trying to figure out what drive man means and I can only make educated guesses. Since 3AR is a radio station he must be something of a presenter. Haven't found what "drive man" is supposed to mean yet though.

PAGE 35: "He drank from the tap. The rainwater tasted ancient, of zinc nails held in the mouth"

Any ideas concerning this TAP would be appreciated. Why would a tap produce rainwater. I suppose it's something else but don't know what.

PAGE 55: "Security bloke shot him through the right cheek. Six years for that, Andrew, came out in 2002"

I am suspecting that ANDREW is some kind of jail but I went through all the Australian correctional institutions list and found no resembling name. Am i missing something?

PAGE 66: Talking about gathering information, Villani and Dance:

"How'd you get this?"

"The ether".

I suppose this ETHER is some kind of information network? Cannot make much of it.

PAGE 80: "This is drugs, it's like spit, no natural end. You 'll never nail anyone who matters"

IT'S LIKE SPIT. I do not know what to make of this simile. Does he mean that there is an ever-flowing supply of drugs? Opinions accepted.

That's it for now. Any feedback would be hugely appreciated since it would make my rendering the original more precise. I know I am mainly addressing people who have already read the book but feel free to contribute anyway.

My regards


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This would be a very practical use of this site, since we have Australians, i.e. Daniel Hatadi.

I'm not Australian but can guess at some of this. You're probably right about the "spit" passage. "Ether" must refer to sound waves of some kind. Radio? Cell phone? Other?  "Andrew" inserted between two commas, looks like someone's name. Context of the dialogue? A "tap" is a faucet. Rainwater can be gathered in reservoirs. Check context?


Let's hope someone more knowledgeable pipes up.  :)


Hello and thanks for the response,

I' ve come to the conclusion that Andrew probably refers to one mentioned Andy Ribaric. Isn't Andy a diminutive of Andrew?

As far as the tap is concerned, I was not aware that gathering rainwater in tanks in house yards was a common practice.

Andy is indeed an abbreviation for Andrew.  And the rainwater thing is the eco-friendly alternative, and therefore rather recent.


In any case, I'm not an authority on Aussie.  :)

Water tanks are not really common practice, more for rural areas.

And yes, Andy is short for Andrew.

I have a (signed!) copy of Truth I can take a look at tonight. While I could comment on all of these, I'd like to check the context first. It's all about context!

That would be most awesome and thanks for taking the time.

Got a couple more by the way,

PAGE 76: "Mostly use sign language down there on the blue-balls coast".

It's the part where Villani is talking to Cashin explaining a couple of details of the Oakleigh murders.

Cashin is retired there after the on duty accident. We see him handling the murders in the particular area in the Broken Shore. Thing is that I searched for the location online and I've come to believe that it's actually a funny "nickname" alluding to the colder climate, or the lack of female population. Don't really know.

PAGE 59: "Gillam rang me, girl's fucking hysterical"

He is talking about David Gillam, the Chief Commissioner and a male.

Gillam has been referred to as a girl again later only I have tried to find an explanation and failed. I have unwillingly reached to the conclusion that its derogatory in order to imply the whole "whining like a little girl" image. I am not sure though. Tried aussie slang phrases for a use of girl other than the obvious and found nothing.

Another example, "That's the impression of the girl Gillam" page 91.

Again thanks a lot for the interest.



As an Aussie author I'm happy to help you out with some of these. 


Page 2:  I'd need to see a bit more of the paragraph that it comes from, it could mean a few different things.


Page 13: The "drive man" is the drive time radio DJ, i.e. the DJ that is on during either the morning or afternoon peek traffic periods. Drive time is considered a prime radio slot as so many people are in their cars commuting and listening to the radio.


Page 35:  He's talking about water from a rainwater tank.  In rural areas most houshold water comes from rainwater tanks (it's now also becoming popular in the cities).  The tap is either the kitchen tap or quite literally the tap at the bottom of the tank.  You'd need to know where he was standing in order to be sure.


Page 55: Yeap, he was in gaol and released in 2002.  You haven't mentioned the name of the prison.


Page 66:  The ether means,

the clear sky; the upper regions of air beyond the clouds. In this context though it looks like he is saying he got it from thin-air i.e. he pulled it out of nowhere.


Page 80: Yes, he's saying there is a never ending supply of drugs, which like "spit" or saliva never ends.


Page 76:  He is probably talking about a cold climate, particuarly if the novel is set in the southern colder parts of the country. 


Page 59: Gillum rang him and told him that [the] girl is fucking hysterical.  He doesn't say which girl is hysterical be he is certainly talking about somebody else.


I hope that helps.





Hello and thanks for your comments, most appreciated.

As far as the context of the second page is concerned, here goes:

2 policemen are driving on the Westgate Bridge,

"Never go over here without thinking", said Birkerts.


"My grandad. On it."

- there is a lengthy description of the 1970 accident -

"Dead?" said Villani.

"No, taking a shit, rode the dunny all the way down."

"Certainly passed on that shit-riding talent."

Apparently his grandad was up there when the accident happened, I still fail to grasp what "shit-riding" is supposed to mean though, apart from the obvious visual. I am pretty sure there is some kind of pun there but haven't detected it yet.

A couple others as well,

Page 96: "Villani looked away, at the people intent on the expensive morsels, the French champagne. In the old days, Laurie brought experiments and leftovers home, they ate them at the kitchen table..."

First of all, Laurie is running a catering company. I am inclined to believe that these experiments are dishes that were candidates to make a menu. Something like token dishes to be included in a future event. Am I right to believe so?

Page 96: "Barry got there first, shook hands. 'I'd like to introduce Inspector Stephen Villani, head of Homicide,' he said. Orong tried some pathetic muscle, Villani didn't respond."

Villani is being introduced to the minister, Orong. My understanding is that Orong blinks his eye in recognition but gets stonewalled. Correct? The issue here is "tried some pathetic muscle" which I took as blink.

Thank you in advance for any possible answers


Hi George, I've just moved house so haven't had a chance to find my copy of the book until yesterday.

My comments:

Page 2:

In terms of the context, Bikerts' grandfather was part of a bridge disaster in the 1970s, where he was sitting on a toilet as the bridge collapsed, thus: "No, taking a shit, rode the dunny all the way down."

Villani is making fun of Bikerts in a good-natured way, saying the same talent for surviving in dubious circumstances was passed on from his grandfather. So really, "shit-riding" is actually literal.

Page 96: You are correct in your understanding of the word 'experiments.'

Page 96: 'tried some pathetic muscle': in this case, Orong offers his hand to shake, but it's a weak looking hand so Villani doesn't shake it in return.


and thanks for bothering amongst the moving.

Regarding the "tried some pathetic muscle" bit.

A pathetic muscle is "the superior oblique muscle of the eye" according to anatomy.

In addition, Orong is the Police Minister and Villani hasn't met him before and it seems a bit rude that he would deny a handshake in his face. Could it be that he actually blinked his eye and VIllani just didn't respond?


I suppose he could have winked but I just didn't read it that way. And even though Villani hasn't met him, I wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't happy with his management in general.

Hello once again,

hope everyone is well in the esteemed forum.

Book is progressing nicely though I do have hit a paragraph that has me wondering.

Here goes:

PAGE 134:

"Section 27 from Colby", said Villani. "A 26 and a 27, cover all bases. He's expecting you"

"My view", said Kiely, "my view is if he's here we should take him out".

"Talk to the dogs, Birk", said Villani. "Impress upon them the need to get the stuff in now, immediately, sooner, they have no higher priority..."

My first issue is with Section 27 and 26. I understand that they are some kind of warrants (earlier in page 129 Villani, discussing a possible arrest, says, "we may need a Section 27 from him in minutes - him being the the police commissioner), but of what kind? I have failed to extract any relevant info.

Talk to the dogs. Is this some kind of police slang or does he mean they guys, the go-getters?

They need to get the stuff in now. What stuff is that? Could it be the said Sections?

Thank you in advance




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