Our Crypto Wowsers - Geoffrey Dutton

This poem, “Our Crypto Wowsers”, is Geoffrey Dutton’s reflection on post World War 2 Australian society, particularly that of the 1960s. It is a study of everyday life in suburbia, and a commentary on the post-war celebration of security and domestic mediocrity. After the Second World War had ended, it would appear that Australia was having an identity crisis, unsure of what its ‘flavour’ was, or who it should be. What kind of society would become the ideal, and what did it want to avoid at all costs?
Dutton had been a flying instructor during the war, and afterwards studied at Oxford University, England. He was disheartened to see that, in England, despite the comradery of war, the class system remained as firmly entrenched as ever. In the 1960s Dutton became a staunch supporter of an Australian republic, lecturing publicly that Australia would never achieve its potential if it did not sever ties with England and achieve independence.   This was not a popular message for a largely monarchy-supporting culture.
The poem makes criticism of Australian society as one trying to keep up appearances, but settling for the superficial and bland.   “Our Crypto Wowsers” paints a picture of 1960s Australia where the ideal and proper thing to do was to get married, have children and raise them in a perfectly clean house, with a perfectly cut lawn, with a quaint white picket fence out the front.   People had lived with insecurity during the war, and now security was prized by mainstream society. However, there were those unwilling to buy into this this and saw the sanitised life of the middle class as hypocrisy.
The subtext is that the 1960s was a time of clash of ideals, from middle class conservatism to the emergence of a hippy culture. The poet, being the founder of the Adelaide Arts Festival in the early 1960s and a scholar, would have held precious things that he sees as being unappreciated by the wowsers – they see those who have not “settled down” as “queer” … “the...