Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Idler, Thursday, May 24

Tories pitch for Nando's

THE Conservative Party in Britain has suggested using Nando's – the Mozambican-Portuguese chicken restaurant chain originating in South Africa – for a membership drive.

The London Times quotes a senior party source saying the Tories are considering offering members a discount card for shops and restaurants, including Nando's.

"These are early discussions: we don't know how many businesses would want to take part, but we're keen to give members more in return for their membership."

The Conservative Party has 124 000 members against Jeremy Corbyn's Labour, which has 550 000. Sky News quotes a Tory source saying many local Conservative associations effectively exist "on paper only". The fear is that being thin on the ground could disadvantage them in marginal constituencies.

However, Nando's has no intention of linking up with the Tories.

According to a spokesperson: "Nando's has no political affiliations as a brand and no political discount card exists. We have a Nando's loyalty card and standard gift cards that anyone can use, and we offer a 20% discount to police, fire services, the ambulance service and National Health Service."

So bad luck for the Tories. Chicken piri-piri won't help swell their numbers.

Maybe they should try Bobby's Bunnychows. It's only a matter of time before they relocate to the UK.

Floral art

READER Sheila Astill congratulates us on yesterday's picture of a floral Union Jack at the Chelsea In Bloom festival in London.


But you ain't seen nuttin' she says. Come to St Elizabeth's Church and the church hall (Salisbury Avenue, Westville) on June 1 and 2, between 9am and 4pm, for a Floral Extravaganza/Showcase.


At least 40 members of the Durban Floral Art Club will be arranging flowers in the church hall and 12 others will be decorating the church itself.


"It's not a competition but we are asking members of the public to vote on which display or arrangement they enjoyed the most.


"Our members include winners of provincial, national and international awards, including the Chelsea Flower Show and World Floral Art shows."


Admission is R50 (children under 12 free), the Edith Benson Babies' Home to benefit.


Sheila adds: "Our knicker elastic is much stronger than the sort they use at St. Clements."


So the Durban Floral Art Club are rugby enthusiasts. They fashion catapults to shoot out the streetlights in the traditional celebratory feu de joie in the event of a Sharks victory. Attagirl, Sheila!

Baffling decline

HERE'S something to baffle the mathematicians. Two species of marsupial in Australia – that is, creatures where the young are carried in a pouch by the female, ranging downward from kangaroos to small rodents – indulge in mating sessions that are so prolonged and frenzied the observing scientists get embarrassed.

Yet the black-tailed dusky antechinus and the silver-headed antechinus – tiny critters discovered only in 2013 – appear to be heading for extinction. The males die after marathon sex sessions.

Scientists at Queensland University of Technology  are racing against the clock to save the species from extinction, according to Sky News..

"They are very frantic and try to get from one mate to another and the mating itself can last hours, so it's very tiring," says Andrew Baker, mammalogist at the university.

"Males go from "absolutely prime health... to falling to pieces before your very eyes" within the annual frenzied fortnight of mating at the end of the winter, he says.

Er, a reminder, we're talking here about the black-tailed dusky antechinus and the silver-headed antechinus, not a varsity digs. But it does seem an astonishing contradiction of the Malthusian doctrine of population increase - wealth growing by one two three and population growing by one two four.

Well at least the females don't bite the males' heads off before the snoring starts, as with the black widow spiders. That's something.


A FELLOW walks into the office of a theatrical agent and says he does bird imitations.

"Bird imitators are 10 a penny," says the agent. "It's not worth putting you on my books."

"Oh well," says the imitator. "I'll leave you my card just in case you change your mind."

Then he drops his trousers, lays an egg and flies out of the window.

Last word

Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.

Will Rogers

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Idler, Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A porcine encounter

It was a year ago, September,
A day I well remember,
I was walking up and down
In drunken pride,
When my knees began to flutter
And I fell down in the gutter
And a pig came by and lay down by my side.
As I lay there in the gutter
Thinking thoughts I could not utter,
I thought I heard a passing lady say:
'You can tell a man who boozes
by the company he chooses...'
And with that the pig got up and walked away.


OHIO police thought they had found a local version of the old Irish ditty when they received a 911 call from a man in North Ridgeville who complained that he was being followed home from the railway station by a pig that was molesting him.

They presumed the caller was drunk but, according to US radio station NPR, they found a "very sober" man who was indeed being pursued by a pig that kept nudging him.

The pig was loaded into the patrol vehicle then put in police kennels while his picture was posted on the internet.

Soon enough, the pig's owner arrived to claim him. He was indeed a pet and had merely been looking for affection.

Those Irish songsters knew all about these things.

Big Mac record

AN American man has celebrated eating his 30 000th Big Mac hamburger, according to Sky News.

A crowd gathered at McDonald's in Military Road, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, to watch 64-year-old Don Gorske polish off his milestone burger, along with special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, all on a sesame-seed bun.

It's a well documented milestone. Gorske has thousands of receipts, wrappers and containers that detail his two Big Macs a day culinary procession since his first in 1972 (though 7 000 styrofoam containers disappeared in a tornado in 1990).

He also has a wife, to whom he proposed under the McDonald's golden arches, when he got a chance between munching.

Gorske describes the Big Mac as his "perfect food". He has never had to supplement it with anything else, he says.

On only two occasions has he gone without. On August 13, 1994, he went on a motoring trip of some 900km and, to his great astonishment, did not encounter a single McDonald's. In 1988 he went without a Big Mac for a day in remembrance of his mother.

One searches in vain for Big Mac reviews by our local restaurant connoisseurs.




A DAIRY farm worker in New Zealand was calling in the cows early one morning when suddenly it seemed much of the pasture had disappeared.

A giant sinkhole had opened up after heavy rain at Rotorua, on the North Island, revealing rock deposits from a 60 000-year-old volcano.

The hole is as deep as four double-decker buses (20m or so)  and  200m long.

Geologists believe that thousands of years of rain eroded underground limestone, causing the ground to collapse.

"This is pretty spectacular, it's a lot bigger than the ones I'd normally see," volcanologist Brad Scott told TV New Zealand.

Hmmm. So this is what is likely to happen in Hawaii in 60 000 years' time.


Brits on marriage

MORE from Rosemarie Jarski's Great British Wit. Topic: Marriage.

·       It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. – Jane Austen.

·       Damnit, it's your duty to get married. You can't always be living for pleasure. – Oscar Wilde.

·       Marriage is popular because it combines the maximum of temptation with the maximum of opportunity. – George Bernard Shaw.

·       Marriage is like the witness protection programme; you get all new clothes, you live in the suburbs and you're not allowed to see your friends anymore. – Jeremy Hardy.

·       I don't believe that people would ever fall in love or want to be married if they hadn't been told about it. It's like abroad: no one would want to go there if they hadn't been told it existed. – Evelyn Waugh.

·       I was engaged to a contortionist but she broke it off. - Les Dawson.


TWO military veterans are chatting in a bar.

"When did you last make love to a woman?"

"Er, 1957."

"My goodness, that's a long time ago."

"Not really, it's only five past eight now."

Last word

Charm is a way of getting the answer yes without asking a clear question.

Albert Camus

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Idler, Tuesday May 22, 2018

Another Trump withdrawal?

PRESIDENT Donald Trump is very much a new broom. He's withdrawn the US from the Paris Climate Accord, which was signed by just about every other country.

He's withdrawn the US from the Iran Nuclear Accord, which was signed by the permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, describing the agreement as "a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made."

And now, according to the New Yorker, he's considering pulling the US out of the US Constitution, calling it "the worst deal ever".

"I've seen a lot of bad deals in my life, but this Constitution is a total mess," the New Yorker quotes him saying. "We need to tear it up and start over."

He was scathing on the Constitution's insistence on three branches of government.

"The branches thing is maybe the worst part of this deal, The first thing we do when we pull out of the Constitution is get rid of two of those branches."

He also called the First Amendment – freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of the press - "something that really has to go."

"No one in his right mind would put something like that in a Constitution. Russia doesn't have it. North Korea doesn't have it. All the best countries don't have it."

Yes, this is satirist Andy Borowitz again. The First Amendment is still very much in place.

'Gator extortion

A KIDNAPPER in Connecticut, in the US, used an alligator in an attempt to extort money from the family of his victim, according to Huffington Post.

"They got this alligator on me, and they saying that if no money is given they are gonna have him chewing on me," the victim said in a phone call to his aunt.

The kidnapper also texted to the aunt a photo of her nephew trussed up in a bathtub with a 1m alligator on his back, showing its teeth.

Police traced the phone that had been used to communicate with the aunt and eventually found the kidnapper and his victim – a 21-year-old man- at a hotel in Shelton.

The kidnapper was arrested and taken into custody, the alligator was put in the care of the state environmental service and the victim was returned to his family.


"It is an outrageous case, but it is clear from the evidence that this young man's life was in danger," Bridgeport Police Lieutenantt. Christopher LaMaine said. "This was no joke."



Where, where?


READER Pieter Aarsen did not appreciate last week's Tailpiece about the 86-year-old with the 23-year-old cordon bleu girlfriend, who couldn't remember where he lives.

"I am 87 (soon 88) and I remember perfectly well where I live. But I do not know where to find a beautiful 23-year–old- girl to cook for me.

"Making love? What is that?"



Tax evaders

INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener turns his attention in his latest grumpy newsletter to ther epidemic of cash heists.

"The upturn in the frequency and ferocity of attacks on those armoured vans which are used to carry and deliver cash is extremely alarming.

"It is obvious and indeed proven that many of the perpetrators are members of either the police or army and are proficient in the use of tactics and munitions.

"That makes it very difficult to stop and so one wonders whether urgent attention is being given to move South Africa towards a cashless society. The facts about which nations have made how much progress with such plans are very interesting and even Kenya is already some way down the road.

"But banning, for example, any cash transaction above a really quite low level, like a few thousand, as is done in many European countries, will be deeply unpopular among the very many tax evaders that walk our streets."

That wrangle


IAN Gibson, poet laureate of Hillcrest, expresses disillusionment with the adolescent behaviour on all sides in the De Lille/DA wrangle in the Western Cape.


Cape Town's Mayor De Lille

Over the DA casts a big chill;

For she's too hot to handle,

As all they do is wrangle

About how to go for the kill.



"FANCY a game of darts?


"Nearest to the bull starts."

"Okay. Ba-a-a-a!"


"You're closest. You start."

Last word

Criminal: A person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation.

Howard Scott


Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Udler, Monday, May 21

The trifecta comes up

'TIS with my customary diffidence and modesty that I point out that I had the trifecta on Saturday.

As predicted, Harry and Meghan were successfully spliced at Windsor and neither Jeremy Corbyn nor Donald Trump gave away the bride. It was Prince Charles who did the honours.

As predicted, Chelsea beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final.

And - whee! – as predicted, the Sharks beat Waikato Chiefs. What a game, our fellows shoving them around in the scrums, some exhilarating running by the backs and superb tackling.

Those Chiefs threequarters are hombres who mean business but it was as if they were running into a wire fence. Not once did they break our line.

Yet at times it seemed we were doing our best to throw things away with two soft tries – one vas aan die slaap at a line-out near our own line, the other an interception that was telegraphed way upfront.

Mama mia! But thanks, we'll take the points! Ole, ole, ole!

Extra special

WAS this royal wedding not a firm cementing of the special relationship between the US and the Poms?

A feature of the ceremony was a splendid sermon by an African-American cleric, delivered in the style of the old time religion of the Deep South.

As an American remarked on Sky TV afterwards, she felt as if she was back in Virginia.

A cementing of the special relationship – yep. And given the never-ending ructions surrounding the White House, could this be the beginning of a restoration of the monarchy in America?

Probably not. But if it should happen, remember where you read it first!


I TRIED to closely watch the FA Cup Final but was badly distracted by a blonde vision of loveliness with whom I was having dinner.

Loveliness aside, this blonde is capable of great severity. She was glad to note my sudden interest in football, she said. Did this mean I was being weaned of the boorishness of rugby?

Where do these gals get such outlandish ideas?

Bothy Boys

ON FRIDAY I attended a splendid lunch to mark the 65th birthday of my old "Bothy Boy" pal, Captain Allen Brink, a former ship's master, currently a member of the executive board of the Nautical Institute, in London, and through this connection a Freeman of the City of London (which I think entitles him to dance a hornpipe along the Victoria Embankment on the north bank of the Thames).

A Bothy Boy is somebody who qualified as a merchant navy officer at the South African Nautical College, in the Western Cape, also known as the General Botha.

Allen is always kind enough to describe me as a fellow Bothy Boy because I once spent three months there for a navigation course while with the South African Navy.

On arrival at Joop's Place I was hailed by Allen and told to sit with two other Maritzburg College fellows so they could keep an eye on us. And blow me down! One was a former ship's chief engineer I was not just at College with but Merchiston also, The other a master mariner, some years younger, who had also been through Merchiston and College. Beat that!

Also in the vicinity at our table were Mike Procter, demon fast bowler of yesteryear, and a fellow named Ben Lamaletie, also known as Ben the Benefactor because he used to be chief brewer at SA Breweries. A jolly crew.

I was relating all this to the aforementioned blonde, who expressed horror at the thought of being in the company of such a bunch of old duffers. (I told you she can be severe).

So I told her of a splendid jape involving Father Daine, of the Anglican parish of St Cyprian's.

He arrived rather peckish and declared he was looking forward to a nice steak. The waitress eventually handed him a minuscule steak, about the girth of a meatball. As the good reverend registered shock and dismay, she handed him another plate with a whopper of a steak on it.

The company fell upon a roar, as Boswell would have put it.

"How absolutely childish," said my lovely blonde. "I'm glad I wasn't there."

Gals can be difficult to fathom.





HE DOESN'T drink anything stronger than pop. Mind you, Pop will drink anything.

Last word

Blame someone else and get on with your life.

Alan Woods


Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Idler, Friday, May 18, 2018

A lot on tomorrow


WHAT a Saturday lies ahead. The royal wedding, Prince Harry and Meghan, at Windsor. The FA Cup Final – Chelsea versus Manchester United, at Wembley. And the Sharks versus Waikato Chiefs, down at Kings Park. How does one fit it all in?


I was talking to a fellow the other evening whose day begins with a round of early morning golf, followed by drinks and lunch, and he wonders how he's going to last it. Yep, it's one of the challenges we face. Another will be coping with the gals who have been watching the wedding throughout the day, drinking vino and getting weepy. That's just the way it is.


There's been criticism of the royal family for having the wedding the same day as the FA Cup Final and the same day as the Sharks-Chiefs clash – there's world interest in all three – but I think that's a little overdone.


The FA Cup starts around 6pm our time, and by then most of the wedding business will be done and dusted, the 3 000 or so guests will be revving it up at Windsor Castle.

We'll know by then who escorted Meghan down the aisle – not her dad Robert, who became a doubtful starter following a disgraceful campaign against him by the American paparazzi; possibly her divorced mum Dori (following the example of Queen Victoria who escorted her daughters down the aisle); Or whoever (the bookies were offering a million to one on Jeremy Corbyn, a million and a half to one on Donald Trump). By the time they kick off at Wembley, we'll know.


Fortunately, the Sharks-Chiefs match is early so we should be able to watch the FA Cup Final in the Duikers' Club afterwards. Does this matter to true-blue rugger buggers? Well, yes it does. Some of us who have never played football have developed a taste for the game from the TV screen.


The ball control, the grace are marvellous. Those scorcher goals from far out are absolutely thrilling. We've become armchair critics. The refs are too strict on incidents where players go sprawling. Surely it's inevitable in a semi-contact sport such as this? The refs are too lenient of players grabbing one other, especially as they wait for corner kicks. Even in rugby you're not allowed to do that.


What strikes us also is the fanatical attachment so many local fans have to English clubs. These are not just relocated Poms, they're also locals who have never set foot in England. It's high emotion, total commitment – impressive. That's why we rugger buggers also want to watch the Cup Final.


Predictions for tomorrow: Harry and Meghan will tie the knot; Chelsea will beat Man U (or maybe the other way round); the Sharks will beat the Chiefs – natch, no doubt about it!


'Erewego, 'erewego, 'erewego!



A NORTH Carolina beekeeper drove about 60km with thousands of bees flying about in the cab of his truck, and did not get stung once.

Wallace Leatherwood bought about 18 000 bees from a supplier and left them in boxes in the shade of the cab as he went on an errand, according to Sky News.

When he returned there were bees everywhere in the cab. But Leatherwood was unfazed. He just got in and drove. When he reached his destination, folk filmed a video of the swarm of bees in the cab, astonished that he was untouched.

Yes, I once had a similar experience. I was to play golf at Richmond after a lay-off of a few years. I found my golf bag hanging in a garden shed. I threw it in the boot of the car and set off for Richmond.

What I didn't know was that a family of hornets had made a huge mud nest in the bottom of the bag.

When I opened the boot, a cloud of angrily buzzing hornets issued forth. They didn't touch me – but boy, were my fellow golfers and the caddies jumping about!

Curious that – bees and hornets don't attack the driver.



PADDY and Mick are staggering home along the railway tracks after an evening in the pub.

Paddy: "My, dis is a long staircase."

Mick: "And de handrail is so low."

Last word


Far from idleness being the root of all evil, it is rather the only true good.

Soren Kierkegaard


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Idler, Thursday, May 17


This unwelcome epic

WILL he or won't he? Suddenly the royal wedding becomes like an epic TV soapie.

A dashing prince, grandson of the world's longest-reigning monarch, is to marry a highly attractive and highly intelligent American actress. A lovely couple. The British media and public are ga-ga over it. Likewise the American. This is the special relationship writ large, the wedding of the century.

Meghan Markle's father is billed to escort her down the aisle at Windsor on Saturday in the Wedding of the Century. Then suddenly he drops out.

It seems Robert Markham got caught up in some sort of papparazi scandal back in America after he posed for hammy pictures of himself getting measured for a new suit; reading newspaper reports about the impending nuptials and so forth. He's withdrawn, not wanting to embarrass his daughter. And the poor guy is under such pressure he's said to have had a heart attack.

The focus is suddenly on him, not the happy couple. It's terribly sad – for Meghan as well as her poor old dad.

But who will step into the breach? Who will do the honours?

The Fleet Street agony aunts speculate that Meghan's own (divorced) mother, Dori, could take her daughter down the aisle. There's a precedent.  Queen Victoria herself escorted her daughters down the aisle after the death of her consort, Prince Albert.

Then suddenly it's as you were. Robert Markle is said to be making every effort to be there and play his role as planned. At time of writing it was still all up in the air.

It reads like vintage soap opera. So sad for Meghan and her dad.


Direct flights


READER Ron Duckworth notes the recent announcement by British Airways about direct flights between Durban and London: also the competition in which people are invited to write a poem about it.

He obliges.




"Fly Durbs to London in a day." is the amazing news out from BA.

Three times a week is what I hear, starts October, that's quite near.

Too late for the wedding I'm afraid to say, but we wish the Royals a stunning day.

For us in Durbs this is such a boon, we'll all be flying BA soon!

"Hip hip hooray! is what we cry - "No stopovers in Dubai!"

New dreamliners and free wifi!

Now BA is the way to fly.


That's it, Ron. Chocks away! Get this in as an entry!


Panel discussion


MY PAL Gus McLeod-Henderson, of Francolin, down in East Griqualand, suggests that TV coverage of Super Rugby should, in the screen panels showing score, time remaining and so on, also show which side is playing in which direction.


"They're often playing in unfamiliar colours. Tune in late and it takes time to work out which side is which.

"That panel should tell us which side is playing from left to right on the screen and which from right to left. Then they could switch it at half-time. It would be simple enough surely."

Yes, they could turn their attention to that, as well as the lunacy of togging out both sides in slightly varying shades of blue and putting the ref in Episcopalian purple.

I'm delighted to learn that TV has at last come to Francolin.


Newest cop

MOST police forces have a canine unit. The Troy Police Department in Michigan, in the US, now has a feline unit.

Actually it's a one-kitty unit so far, according to Sky News. Pawfficer Donut, a rescue kitten, has been officially sworn in as the newest member of Troy Police Department.

The female kitten was asked to raise her right paw as she was officially sworn in after a successful interview. She was given to the police by the Michigan Humane Society.

It's not quite clear what Pawficcer Donut's duties will be. So far she looks a bit like a mascot. But you never know – she could turn out a great mouser.




AN OLD guy is sitting on a park bench sobbing.

A passer-by sits down next to him. "What's the problem, old-timer?"

"I'm 86 years old. I live with a beautiful 23-year-old girl. She's a cordon bleu cook. We make love constantly."

"So what's the problem?"

"I can't remember where I live!"


Last word


The outcome of any serious research can only be to make two questions grow where only one grew before.

Thorstein Veblen