Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Idler, Monday, October 22, 2018

Such thrills –

and more

to come

WHAT a weekend of Currie Cup semi-finals. If our match against the Lions was a thriller down to the final minutes – that try by Dan du Preez a classic eighth man peel-away – what does one say of the Bulls' performance against Western Province?

Taking them into extra time and losing by only three penalty points – this after the pasting they took from them only a week earlier in the pool game. It was heroic stuff, the very essence of rugby.

The Bulls came close to gifting us a home final but, more importantly, they showed that against Province it can be done.

The Sharks played an immaculate first half – great forward work providing the opportunities – but lost focus in the second. The line-outs went pear-shaped and we somehow have an unfortunate knack of losing possession through interceptions when attacking the opponents' line. But it did bring the game to a thrilling finish.

Western Province this Saturday in the final. Bring it on, bring it on!

 

WHAT a weekend. A prelude to the rugby excitement was the annual Trafalgar Day dinner at Royal Natal Yacht Club. This follows sedate Royal Navy protocol – toasts to Queen and country, the club and the Immortal Memory (Lord Nelson); passing of the port – then degenerates somewhat into the traditional slanging match between the port and starboard watches. This is highly entertaining (though its content has no place in a respectable newspaper).

All this as we ploughed our way through an absolutely scrumptious menu with a Trafalgar theme but which bears absolutely no relation to Royal Navy rations of the 19th century.

Guest speaker was Dr Ralf Dominick, who circumnavigated the world in his yacht Mvubu (Zulu for hippo), reaching the Arctic via the challenging North-West Passage, off Canada. Also, his circumnavigation was in the company, most of the time, of female crew.

Dr Dominick gave a close analysis of the Battle of Trafalgar, the way it was tactics that won the day for Nelson. The French aimed for the English masts and rigging. The English aimed for the French hulls. As the battle was fought in a wind of about half a knot, damage to masts and rigging counted for almost nothing. Holed hulls, blown up powder stores and human casualties counted for everything.

Fascinating stuff, though I wish he'd told us a bit more about the girls he sailed with,

Dr Dominick also presented the club with a small ingot of copper, taken from the cladding of HMS Victory. It immediately went on a syndicated auction, raising R15 000 or so. It will be displayed with the club's memorabilia.

Finally, another focus on the past. Royal Natal Yacht Club now has its own beer. The craft brew is called "1858", available on draught, and it commemorates the club's founding in that year. Craft beers are all the rage in Durban these days, including Durban Poison, a cannabis lager brewed from the dagga plant instead of the traditional hops. However I'm informed that "1858" – a most tasty and refreshing brew – is from the traditional (and respectable) hops.

Splice the mainbrace!

Tailpiece

THIS little old fellow shuffles slowly into a health foods eatery at the airport and hosts himself slowly and painfully onto a stool at the juice bar. He orders a banana-split.

"Crushed nuts sir?" the waitress asks.

"No – arthritis."

 

 

Last word

People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.

Frederick Douglass

 

The Idler, Friday, October 19, 2018

Turn out and

support

your team

FLATTERED as I am, I have to refute this wild rumour doing the rounds that I will be on the bench for the Sharks in tomorrow's semi-final at Kings Park. I'm a bit rusty and, besides, our scrumhalves have more than proved themselves in this foreshortened Currie Cup season.

What I will do though – and this should apply to every rugby fan in the province – is be there giving vocal support. Let's get together a crowd to compare with the glory days of yesteryear. It's not every day you are in the Currie Cup semi-final.

What a cracker of a game this is going to be. Our lads showed themselves in Kimberley last week to be the real thing – solid defence; solid in the tight, driving in the rucks and mauls; great handling and enterprise out wide. Also patient – you have to build and build for the breakthrough. The Sharks are very close to being a well-oiled machine that also thinks.

The Lions are always a formidable combination. They have a clutch of returned Boks. They have a score to settle since last at Kings Park.

Er, if the Sharks really want me, I'm in Block G in the main grandstand.

What a game this will be.

Ole, ole, ole!

 

 

DURING question time in the British House of Commons this week, the Tories revealed some cheering stats. Unemployment is the lowest it's been in 80 years; wages are rising; foreign investment is increasing; and austerity is being phased out as a government policy.

This is comforting stuff to have tucked under your arm as you leap over the Brexit cliff-edge into the void of uncertainty.

 

THE police in Toronto, Canada, are looking for a fellow who dived naked into an aquarium shark tank, drawing cheers as well as gasps of concern for his safety from the crowds viewing through the glass sides of the tank, according to Huffington Post.

It happened at Ripley's Aquarium, where this sportsman stripped and dived in. Video shows him swimming naked while a security guard yells at him to get out of the water.

At one point he did get out but dived in again, to cheers from the crowd.

Aquarium visitor Erinn Acland said the shark swimmer seemed "totally relaxed, even laughing". She found it terrifying.

"I don't know what would possess someone to do that. It's totally insane to me. I was scared I was going to witness the death of this guy."

By the time the cops arrived, the fellow had got out untouched, got back into his gear and skedaddled. But they're looking for him with a view to a charge of indecent exposure.

They might find he originates from KwaZulu-Natal. At Umkomaas in days of yore there was a fancy underground restaurant with the feature of large glass windows that looked into a well-lit adjacent swimming pool. The local lads, tanked up after rugby or whatever, would dive in starkers late at night and swim up to the windows to gaze on the diners inside. For the diners it could be quite alarming.

There weren't any sharks in that pool, of course, but quite a lot of conger eels.

Tailpiece

VAN der Merwe goes to the doctor for a check-up. The doctor tells him: "You're badly overweight."

"I want a second opinion."

"Okay, you're damned ugly as well!"

 

 

Last word

I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who haven't got the guts to bite people themselves.

August Strindberg

The Idler, Thursday, October 18, 2018

Electricity

project –

new facts

 

EARLIER this week we discussed the fact that a group of scientists from Bristol, in the west of England, are in Durban on a research project that seeks to produce electricity from urine. We surmised – urine being urine wherever you are in the world – that they must be here because only in Durban are you likely to find urine that began as Durban Poison, the cannabis lager now on sale in Florida Road. That urine no doubt has the potential to produce electricity in veritable lightning bolts.

It struck a chord with reader Gregory Rogers, who belongs to a Facebook group that focuses on "British Mediaeval History".

"The chaps on board in this particular group are experts of no mean quality and posts and queries often result in a goldmine of information.

"Some hapless chap innocently posted a query: 'I recently read that Newcastle was once a huge exporter of urine. On checking, it appears to have eventually become their third biggest export. My questions are: Why did this come about when obviously the whole country needed to pee every day? How long ago did the practice start? And what was so good about this region's pee that made it worth collecting, and shipping around the country?'"

Exactly. Since when did urine have any monetary value (save in the exceptional case noted above when it starts out as cannabis lager)? Why would anyone want to collect and sell it? More to the point, who would want to buy it?

"The Facebook thread exploded," Gregory says. "No less than 125 comments later, every expert from John O'Groats to Gretna Green was giving his 10 shillings' worth as to the historical hows and whys of British urine. If you were not an expert before, you certainly were by the end, right at the business-end of urine in the Green and Pleasant Land.

 

"I'm afraid my only contribution was a Blackadder quote, courtesy of the Red Baron: 'How fortunate you English are to find the toilet so amusing. For us it is a mundane and functional item; for you it is the basis of an entire culture.'"

 

Gregory supplies a long and complicated web address which, he says, will get me the relevant Facebook "thread", which will answer all these questions I have raised. But – alas! – all it gets me is the Nkandla party line. And nobody out there is putting a monetary value on urine.

Perhaps these Bristol scientists can be persuaded to elucidate over a pint or two of Durban Poison.

 

RETIRED senior colleague Clyde Bawden says it was almost like an away game for Griquas last Saturday, so green and lush was the playing field.

"I can't recall ever seeing such a lush, green surface in Kimberley."

What's happened, Clyde, is that the Griqualand West Rugby Union have planted their field with dagga, now it's been legalised.

Before the match they run a mower over it, which leaves a nice playing surface plus a lucrative harvest of zol. I'm told they're looking closely at the Durban Poison cannabis lager project, with a view to producing their own Kimberley Gif.

 

Tailpiece

WHEN he was young, Van der Merwe's grandmother told him to sprinkle gunpowder on his cornflakes every morning if he wanted to live to a great old age.

Van died at 95, leaving four children, eight grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren – and a three-metre hole in the wall of the crematorium.

 

 

Last word

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.

Don Marquis

Idler Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Twas at the

gathering

of the clans …

 

Just about daybreak, I met a young lassie,
Wha asked me the road, and the miles to Dundee ...

 

SINGER Andy Stewart doesn't tell us where the young lassie was walking from. Glencoe? Wasbank? Pomeroy? Utrecht? But if she were walking this coming weekend she'd find lots of action at Dundee:

A "Ghost Walk" on Friday night when groups will be taken round the cemetery and battlefield at Talana Hill, where the first engagement of the Anglo-Boer War was fought in 1899.

All kinds of spooky stories, and a piper playing a lament. Then a breaking of the tension with a singalong with bully beef and sherry in the Boer Camp. Bully beef and sherry – things haven't changed much since 1899.

Then, in the ensuing days, pipe bands, the Dundee Highland Games and Scottish Gathering; vintage cars, marches through town; a Gun Run Challenge, pulling naval guns uphill; and eventually a re-enactment of the battle by the Dundee Diehards and the Boer Outstryders.

It's Dundee's "Talana Live Piping Hot" festival that celebrates with period costume the town's origins as a gritty Scots mining community (even the Zulus spoke English with a strong Scots accent in the old days) and its subsequent unfolding history until today. Lots of colour, lots of fun, and a wee drappie or two, just to keep the cold out and the mosquitoes away.

 

So here's to my lassie, I ne'er can forget her
And ilka young laddie, wha's list'ning to me,
O never be a sweer, to convoy a young lassie
Though it's only to show her, the road to Dundee …

 

WE AFFICIONADOS of the oval ball nevertheless appreciate the skills and flow of the round ball game. We can become glued to the TV screen.

The other evening as England beat Spain 3-2 in Seville, it was drama, history. England had not beaten Spain at home in 31 years. Spain had not lost at home in 15 to anyone. What a game!

Centre-forward Sir Francis Drake had much to do with it – er,  centre-forward Harry Kane had much to do with it. One gets confused in the excitement.

 

WILDLIFE rangers in the American state of Maryland rescued a black bear cub who had got his head stuck in a plastic jar, according to Huffington Post.

The 45kg male had to be tranquillised before they could cut him free. It happened at a festival at Wisp Resort, the rescue watched by hundreds of people. The little bear had wandered in to scrounge.

Eventually he was reunited with his mother and another cub in the woods.

But the rangers have nicknamed him "Buckethead". I hope the experience – crowds, embarrassment and an embarrassing name - doesn't cause this little bear to develop a complex.

 

THE US embassy in Canberra, Australia, issued an invitation to those on its diplomatic guest list to attend a "Cat Pyjama Party". The invitation was illustrated with a cat in pyjamas holding a plate of cookies, according to Associated Press.

But it turned out to be a booboo perpetrated by a new staffer who was testing the embassy's email newsletter platform. An apology was issued.

Those on the guest list must have been disappointed. Here seemed to be something out of the humdrum of the diplomatic round

Tailpiece

WHAT should you do if you see a spaceman?

Park in it, man, park in it!

 

Last word

Two paradoxes are better than one; they may even suggest a solution.

Edward Teller

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Idler, Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Murphy and Van -

ha, ha, it's

osmosis

HOW is it that Murphy and Van der Merwe appear interchangeably in the same jokes? Are they one and the same person? The question arose the other evening at an intellectual discussion group in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties.

It's an intriguing question. One theory put forward is that the name "Murphy" derives from a "Van der Merwe" who sought sanctuary in Ireland from the religious disturbances of the Netherlands in the 17th century. Pronunciation shifted from "Merwe" to "Murphy".

In support of this thesis, John O 'Groats, in the north-east of Scotland, takes its name from Jan de Groot, a Dutchman who operated the ferry from the Scottish mainland to the Orkney Islands.

This linguistic osmosis seems also to be supported by what appear to be quintessentially English names like Fanshawe and Fenwick actually deriving from Van Schoor and Van Wyk.

This happened when Dutch engineers came to England to build the canal system, and stayed on. Hence the Dutch windmills and canal scenes of artist John Constable.

 

However, the theory that Murphy derives from Van der Merwe seems a little far-fetched. According to Google it derives from the ancient Irish name O Murchadha, meaning "sea warrior". So I'm afraid it's a theory you can tell the O Murchadhas, as in "tell the marines".

Yet a challenge arises. Are there any jokes featuring both Murphy and Van der Merwe simultaneously? Perhaps readers can help.

Meanwhile, an Englishman, an Irishman (Murphy) a Scotsman, a priest, a nun, a rabbi, a Pole and Van der Merwe go into a bar.

Barman: "What's this? Some kind of joke?

I guess that covers all bases for now.

 

 

IT IS DISTRESSING to note that Jack Brooksbank, who has just married Princess Eugenie of York, Queen Elizabeth's granddaughter, has no facial tattoos.

In an era where anyone of distinction has such adornment – footballers, cricketers, rappers, rock stars – this surely is retrogressive. I thought the British royal family were modernising, keeping up with the times.

A LOUISIANA man can count himself lucky. The local library have let him off a fine for handing back a book 84 years late, according to Sky News.

His mother took the book out of the Shreve Memorial Library when she was 11 years old. The stamped library card said it was due back on April 14, 1934.

Her son (unnamed in a Facebook post by the library) found the book, Spoon River Anthology, by Edgar Lee Masters, as he was clearing out his parents' home. He returned it because that was what his mother would have wanted.

Very forgetful these Louisiana ladies.

 

 

Tailpiece

THEY'RE sitting on a low stone wall holding hands, gazing out over the loch.

"A penny for yer thoughts, Angus."

"Well, Jeanie, I was thinkin' … mebbe it's aboot time for a wee kiss."

She blushes, leans over and pecks him lightly on the cheek. Silence. They gaze out over the loch.

"Anither penny for yer thoughts, Angus."

"Well, I were thinking – mebbe it's aboot time for a wee cuddle."

She blushes again, leans across and cuddles him for a few seconds. Silence. They gaze out over the loch.

"Anither penny for yer thoughts, Angus."

"Well, this time it's more serious …"

Her heart skips a beat.

"Is it not aboot time ye paid me the first two pennies?"

 

Last word

Half of the modern drugs could well be thrown out of the window, except that the birds might eat them.

Dr Martin Henry Fischer
 

The Idler, Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Murphy and Van -

ha, ha, it's

osmosis

HOW is it that Murphy and Van der Merwe appear interchangeably in the same jokes? Are they one and the same person? The question arose the other evening at an intellectual discussion group in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties.

It's an intriguing question. One theory put forward is that the name "Murphy" derives from a "Van der Merwe" who sought sanctuary in Ireland from the religious disturbances of the Netherlands in the 17th century. Pronunciation shifted from "Merwe" to "Murphy".

In support of this thesis, John O 'Groats, in the north-east of Scotland, takes its name from Jan de Groot, a Dutchman who operated the ferry from the Scottish mainland to the Orkney Islands.

This linguistic osmosis seems also to be supported by what appear to be quintessentially English names like Fanshawe and Fenwick actually deriving from Van Schoor and Van Wyk.

This happened when Dutch engineers came to England to build the canal system, and stayed on. Hence the Dutch windmills and canal scenes of artist John Constable.

 

However, the theory that Murphy derives from Van der Merwe seems a little far-fetched. According to Google it derives from the ancient Irish name O Murchadha, meaning "sea warrior". So I'm afraid it's a theory you can tell the O Murchadhas, as in "tell the marines".

Yet a challenge arises. Are there any jokes featuring both Murphy and Van der Merwe simultaneously? Perhaps readers can help.

Meanwhile, an Englishman, an Irishman (Murphy) a Scotsman, a priest, a nun, a rabbi, a Pole and Van der Merwe go into a bar.

Barman: "What's this? Some kind of joke?

I guess that covers all bases for now.

 

 

IT IS DISTRESSING to note that Jack Brooksbank, who has just married Princess Eugenie of York, Queen Elizabeth's granddaughter, has no facial tattoos.

In an era where anyone of distinction has such adornment – footballers, cricketers, rappers, rock stars – this surely is retrogressive. I thought the British royal family were modernising, keeping up with the times.

 

A LOUISIANA man can count himself lucky. The local library have let him off a fine for handing back a book 84 years late, according to Sky News.

His mother took the book out of the Shreve Memorial Library when she was 11 years old. The stamped library card said it was due back on April 14, 1934.

Her son (unnamed in a Facebook post by the library) found the book, Spoon River Anthology, by Edgar Lee Masters, as he was clearing out his parents' home. He returned it because that was what his mother would have wanted.

Very forgetful these Louisiana ladies.

 

 

Tailpiece

THEY'RE sitting on a low stone wall holding hands, gazing out over the loch.

"A penny for yer thoughts, Angus."

"Well, Jeanie, I was thinkin' … mebbe it's aboot time for a wee kiss."

She blushes, leans over and pecks him lightly on the cheek. Silence. They gaze out over the loch.

"Anither penny for yer thoughts, Angus."

"Well, I were thinking – mebbe it's aboot time for a wee cuddle."

She blushes again, leans across and cuddles him for a few seconds. Silence. They gaze out over the loch.

"Anither penny for yer thoughts, Angus."

"Well, this time it's more serious …"

Her heart skips a beat.

"Is it not aboot time ye paid me the first two pennies?"

 

Last word

Half of the modern drugs could well be thrown out of the window, except that the birds might eat them.

Dr Martin Henry Fischer
 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Idler, Monday, October 15, 2018

Another

breakthrough

for science?

 

SCIENTIFIC strides are being made in Durban. Last week we discussed the way Durban Poison, a cannabis lager brewed from dagga instead of hops, is now legally available in Florida Road.

Then the other evening I encountered a professor fellow who tells me there's a team of scientists in the city from Bristol, in the west of England, who are investigating the possibility of generating electricity from urine

This was in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties, where you don't necessarily believe everything you hear. But this prof fellow is the genuine article. He's devoted his entire career to the study and management of sewage. He has a card bearing the UKZN crest and describing his activities in terms that are vivid enough but not to be repeated in a respectable newspaper.

At the time I was with Gertrude the Tomato Queen, a raven-haired lass so named for her habit of diving into her handbag to bring out a tomato, into which she then sinks her fangs. She says they're good for you and they counteract the vodka. She eats a lot of tomatoes.

Gertrude was intrigued, especially when the prof told her tomatoes absolutely thrive in sewage. Her eyes lit up. But I digress. Back to urine and electricity.

It seems the research project is to create a new kind of battery driven by urine. Something to do with ions or electrons or something like that. I get a bit lost with this scientific stuff. But I gather that eventually we'll have electric cars. All you do when you leave for the office in the morning is widdle in the battery and off you go.

But why would these Bristol fellows be here in Durban? Urine is freely available in the west of England or anywhere in the world for that matter.

Ah! Bingo! Only here can it be processed from Durban Poison, itself brewed from the fragrant weed. What better source to produce a jolt of electricity? Voila!

 

WHAT fun the boys had in Kimberley. What fun they'll have here at Kings Park against the Lions.

Get it right again on Saturday and the Sharks could well be in the final against Western Province, where we have a score to settle.

Against a valiant Griquas side our lads showed composure, drive, wonderful handling and – so important – momentum. It's a winning combination. It's all coming together at exactly the right time. The formula, as ever, is ADP – agter die pale. A pulsating climax approaches to what has been a great, if brief, Currie Cup season. Roll on Saturday.

'Erewego,' erewego, 'erewego!

 

 

LAST week we recalled some of the characters who regularly inhabited Joel Mervis's long-running newspaper column, The Passing Show, in years gone by. Raconteur Spyker Koekemoer (aka Pat Smythe) recalls another one, Mrs Farfel.

"Mrs Farfel shouts from the kitchen: 'Another lemon tea … shouldn't smell from herring …'"

Yes, lovely evocative stuff.

 

Tailpiece

THE teacher asks a little girl if she's going to the school fete.

"No, I ain't going."

The teacher corrects her. "You must not say 'I ain't going'. You must say 'I am not going'". To press the point she adds: "I am not going. He is not going. You are not going. They are not going. Now, dear, can you say all that?"

"Sure. They ain't nobody going."

 

Last word

In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o'clock in the morning, day after day.

F Scott Fitzgerald