Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Idler, Thursday, December 13, 2018

Durban –

better than

Disneyland

THINGS seem not quite as they should be. Meter maids are a common enough sight in our streets. But why are these two in Florida Road dressed as chorus girls in fishnet tights as they go about their ticketing duties?

Further down, there's yet another traffic light failure. An admiral is on point duty, directing traffic. An admiral? Has the navy taken over traffic control duties? Do we have enough admirals for all the city's intersections?

No we don't. At the next intersection a matador is on point duty.

Down on the beachfront the mounted police are patrolling in preparation for the Christmas rush. Except these cops are Canadian Mounties. No, not all of them. Some are Mexican gauchos. Others are Russian Cossacks.

What the heck is going on?

As I am pondering in bewilderment, a metro police motorcycle roars past, the rider hanging desperately on to his top hat.

The penny drops. As reported a few days ago, the metro cops are pitching for work in motley because their stores department has run out of uniforms due to procurement hassles.

But why these exotic rigs? It turns out that the Playhouse costumes department has come to the rescue. Therefore we can expect the beaches to be patrolled this Christmas by Roman gladiators, cowboys, the cast of the Mikado and clog-dancers.

Durban turns crisis into opportunity. Where else in the world do you get ticketed by a girl in fishnet tights? Where else do you get frisked by the Pirates of Penzance? It's better than Disneyland.

 

 

WHO fancies a surfing holiday at Zuma Beach, in California?

At a time he is beleaguered in so many ways, it seems a beach in California has been named after our former president. That's one bright spot for him, I suppose.

We're obliged to Rob Nicolai, Howick's resident theoretical physicist, for the information about Zuma Beach.

However, the name turns out to be purely coincidental and in part caused by a misspelling. The name Zuma Beach – it's one of the safest and most popular in California – derives from the nearby Point Dume, named in 1793 after Father Francisco Dumetz, of the Mission San Buenaventura.

"Dume" has elided into "Duma", alternatively "Zuma", which is officially used today in all the tourist literature.

Oh well – surf's up!

 

 

STILL with California, police got a surprise when a bear, walking on its hind legs, opened the door to their station and strolled in as if it were checking in a for a shift..

It happened in Truckee, near Lake Tahoe, according to Huffington Post.

The bear wandered past some vending machines, then just as casually strolled back and by the same door he'd come in, followed for a while by two police officers.

Bears in the area are foraging for food 20 hours a day as they prepare to go into winter hibernation.

This particular bear needs to get smarter than just walking on his hind legs and opening doors. He needs to acquire a police star to avoid being hassled. Also, he needs some small change to get grub out of those vending machines. Then zzzzz…

 

Tailpiece

A YACHT is in trouble off the German coast. They send out a frantic radio message: "Mayday, Mayday! We're sinking! We're sinking!"

Their radio crackles into life: "Und vot iss you sinking about?"

 

Last word

You cannot be mad at somebody who makes you laugh - it's as simple as that.

Jay Leno

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Idler, Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Brexit -

the drama

drags on

DRAMA in Old Blighty! Theresa May temporarily dodged the bullet by postponing yesterday's scheduled vote on her negotiated Brexit deal, and is currently scurrying about Europe looking for concessions that would make it more palatable to her own party and the House of Commons overall.

It seems a folorn and sad exercise. What next? Does Theresa May lose the vote then, with a crazed gleam in her eye, lead the Brits in a mad lemming-rush off the White Cliffs of Dover?

Will parliament allow such a thing as a no-deal Brexit which – it now seems widely accepted – would be absolutely disastrous economically.

Will somebody else take over as prime minister? Cancel Brexit and start again with negotiations? Perhaps stay in the EU anyway? If so, who?

Dominic Grieve, Tory MP and former Attorney-General, is the fellow who steered through the Commons the motion that, if Theresa May's deal is voted down, parliament takes over.

He might be worth a few bob with the bookies. If it happens, remember where you read it first!

 

 

I WAS somewhat bemused the other evening watching the Cape Town leg of Sevens Rugby. Who were these fellows in the brownish jerseys (from a distance) who were so spectacularly socking it to the New Zealanders?

Then – blow me down! – it turned out to none other than the Blitzbokke, making up for their iffy performance in Dubai. I'd somehow missed the news that this year they'd be wearing a jersey designed after the colourful shirts worn by President Nelson Mandela.

The new Blitzbok jersey is based on a largely gold-coloured shirt favoured by Madiba and, seen close up, it's intricate, ornate and rather splendid.

Also, these Sevens jerseys are so tight-fitting they give an impression of intricate tattoo work on the upper body, rather like some of the damsels in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties.

The big difference though is that bodily contact with one of the tattooed damsels of the Street Shelter is no momentary thing as on the Sevens rugby field. It leads to prolonged scrimmage with no quarter given, the damsels having no scruples whatever about playing the man on the ground.

It can be a horrible experience, heh, heh!

 

 

THE Egyptian authorities are investigating after online images and video show a naked couple sunbathing on top of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

 

The minister of antiquities has referred the case to a prosecutor for investigation, according to Huffington Post.

 

Climbing Egypt's ancient pyramids beyond carefully assessed paths is forbidden, and the whole area is out of bounds after 5pm, patrolled by security and police.

 

The pyramids have always exuded mystery. By what wonders of mathematics and engineering were they constructed? Do they really align with points in the distant galaxies?

 

And now a new layer of mystery. Did the bloke and the gal start out starkers or did they drop their gear when they got to the top? Was the gal aligned with points in the distant galaxies?

 

Egyptologists could mull over this for quite some time. They are no doubt giving the images their close attention.

 

Tailpiece

THE manager of a brokerage firm is watching a new employee counting put and call slips at astonishing speed.

"Where did you learn to count like that?"

"Yale."

"Yale? I also went to Yale. What's your name?"

"Yimmy Yohnson."

Last word

Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists. - John Kenneth Galbraith

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Idler, Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Brexit's

day of

destiny?

 

THEY'RE rioting in the streets of Paris over fuel prices, disenchantment with Emmanuel Macron and a general sense of cussedness. So far the streets of London are quiet.

But could that change? Today the House of Commons is due to vote on Theresa May's compromise Brexit deal. The brexiteers and the remainers both hate it. They say it makes Britain a vassal state of the EU, in perpetuity. The smart money says it doesn't have a hope of getting through.

And, as the analysts in the Westminster bubble always say, dan sal die poppe dans!

Will there be a vote of no confidence in Theresa May? A new prime minister? A general election? Perhaps Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister, with plans to remodel the world's fifth largest economy along the lines of Venezuela?

Or another referendum, the opinion polls suggesting a strong swing against Brexit now the costs are becoming apparent.

It's totally ridiculous, absolutely self-inflicted and actually tedious – except you can't ignore it, not even at this distance, because it threatens to seriously jolt the international order.

The first person to suggest that Britain's future should lie with Europe was our own prime minister, General Smuts, in the immediate aftermath of World War II. He was echoed by Churchill and that has been the direction of events ever since. One gets a feeling sometimes that the pygmies have taken over. As those Westminster analysts are fond of saying, it's a gemors.

Meanwhile, fuel on the fire. The European Court of Justice (bete noire of the brexiteers) has ruled that the UK can withdraw from the Brexit process if it wishes. An amendment in the Commons means that if Theresa May's deal is voted down, parliament takes over.

Back to the Westminster analysts – hier kom 'n ding! But nobody's sure quite what.

 

 

FEELINGS ran high at the weekend as Limpopo football club Baroka beat Orlando Pirates 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out to win the Telkom Knockout competition. There was a feeling among Pirates supporters that everyone was against them.

 

How about this post on social media?

 

"FACT: It was Orlando Pirates vs the whole South Africa, Chiefs Fans, Sundowns Fans plus 9 provinces, 11 languages, sangomas, fake churches pastors, Facebook people, plus Satan himself and you expect us to win? So much hate. #TKO2018Final"

 

Yes, football is a serious business.

 

 

A RIVER otter has caused discord and social division in Vancouver, Canada.

He's taken to sneaking into the city's Classical Chinese Garden, where a pond is stocked with large koi. He's been chomping them in significant numbers.

He's been evading humane traps. The plan is to relocate him to the nearby Fraser Valley, according to Huffington Post.

It's an emotive issue. Koi have great longevity. One in the pond – not yet chomped – is believed to be 50 years old.

But the folk of Vancouver appear to have lined up in more or less equal numbers between "Team Otter" and "Team Koi." It's being hotly debated on social media. It will probably not result in street violence as in Paris, but feelings are running high nevertheless.

 

Tailpiece

A TOURIST in Sweden is sitting in a bar when a very shapely blonde sits down beside him.

"Hello," he says. "Do you speak English?"

"Oh, I not speaking very much English."

"How much?"

"Two hundred kroner."

Last word

It is even harder for the average ape to believe that he has descended from man.

H L Mencken

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The IOdler, Monday, December 10, 2018

Oops! –

wrong

picture

A MUNICIPAL counsellor in Sheffield, England, wanted to encourage a women's group called Mums Unite who were presenting a petition to the council on knife crime. This councillor videoed the proceedings and, while they were still on, sent them to the group's Whatsapp address.

Whoops! Big mistake! According to the BBC, the post turned out to be not a video of the petition proceedings but a photo of a topless gal.

The women are furious, insulted. The councillor protests that it was a mistake. The photo had arrived on his phone that very morning – he had not even been aware of its existence. He sent it by mistake, Of course, of course. These things happen.

But he's been suspended from the Sheffield council all the same, while the incident is investigated.

My beef though is with the BBC. What's happened to their sense of news? On their website they have a picture of the councillor. Who cares about the councillor? Councillors are a dime a dozen. They don't arouse moral indignation.

What we want on the BBC website is the photo of the topless gal. That's the real story. Then we can grind our teeth in outrage and growl: "Disgusting! Disgraceful! I've seen better in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties!"

One might have thought that, in this age of righting wrongs, the BBC could have shown better judgment.

 

 

INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener wonders in his latest grumpy newsletter when the law will kick in against public felony.

"When are we going to see some arrests and better still some convictions and best of all long jail time for the numerous felons alleged to have stolen public money? And, come to think of it, some private money as well.

"The only one that most of us can think of was Jacob Zuma's financial advisor (the first of several spectacular duds in that post) who was granted medical parole because of a terminal condition a dozen years ago.

"Fortunately for the poor man, his doctor turned out to be as bad at medicine as he was at finance.

"There is much anticipation that President Cyril has picked a good one in appointing Shamila Batohi to the top of the National Prosecuting Authority. I do hope she has ordered that her office be thoroughly cleaned before moving in. It's had some very unsavoury characters in it of late. And that's on her side of the desk too. Get to work young lady!"

 

FESTIVE times. I find myself engaged in conversation the other evening with Cockney Tommy, also known as Mucker, who is one of the characters of Florida Road.

We are in The Pub With No Name and he is in the corner dressed in a Santa Claus suit and doing a kind of hula hoop dance as he burbles Christmas greetings. Mucker is a man of many talents but it does strike me that this is an unusual role for a man in top management.

Then – blow me down! - it turns out after 10 minutes that this is not Mucker at all but an automated dancin', talkin' Santa doll. Silly me!

Tailpiece

WHAT did St Patrick say to the snakes as he was driving them out of Ireland?

"Are yez all right in the back there, lads?"

Last word

Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

Mark Twain

The Idler, Monday, December 10, 2018

Oops! –

wrong

picture

A MUNICIPAL counsellor in Sheffield, England, wanted to encourage a women's group called Mums Unite who were presenting a petition to the council on knife crime. This councillor videoed the proceedings and, while they were still on, sent them to the group's Whatsapp address.

Whoops! Big mistake! According to the BBC, the post turned out to be not a video of the petition proceedings but a photo of a topless gal.

The women are furious, insulted. The councillor protests that it was a mistake. The photo had arrived on his phone that very morning – he had not even been aware of its existence. He sent it by mistake, Of course, of course. These things happen.

But he's been suspended from the Sheffield council all the same, while the incident is investigated.

My beef though is with the BBC. What's happened to their sense of news? On their website they have a picture of the councillor. Who cares about the councillor? Councillors are a dime a dozen. They don't arouse moral indignation.

What we want on the BBC website is the photo of the topless gal. That's the real story. Then we can grind our teeth in outrage and growl: "Disgusting! Disgraceful! I've seen better in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties!"

One might have thought that, in this age of righting wrongs, the BBC could have shown better judgment.

 

 

INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener wonders in his latest grumpy newsletter when the law will kick in against public felony.

"When are we going to see some arrests and better still some convictions and best of all long jail time for the numerous felons alleged to have stolen public money? And, come to think of it, some private money as well.

"The only one that most of us can think of was Jacob Zuma's financial advisor (the first of several spectacular duds in that post) who was granted medical parole because of a terminal condition a dozen years ago.

"Fortunately for the poor man, his doctor turned out to be as bad at medicine as he was at finance.

"There is much anticipation that President Cyril has picked a good one in appointing Shamila Batohi to the top of the National Prosecuting Authority. I do hope she has ordered that her office be thoroughly cleaned before moving in. It's had some very unsavoury characters in it of late. And that's on her side of the desk too. Get to work young lady!"

 

FESTIVE times. I find myself engaged in conversation the other evening with Cockney Tommy, also known as Mucker, who is one of the characters of Florida Road.

We are in The Pub With No Name and he is in the corner dressed in a Santa Claus suit and doing a kind of hula hoop dance as he burbles Christmas greetings. Mucker is a man of many talents but it does strike me that this is an unusual role for a man in top management.

Then – blow me down! - it turns out after 10 minutes that this is not Mucker at all but an automated dancin', talkin' Santa doll. Silly me!

Tailpiece

WHAT did St Patrick say to the snakes as he was driving them out of Ireland?

"Are yez all right in the back there, lads?"

Last word

Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

Mark Twain

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Idler, Friday, December 7, 2018

Tormented

by her pet

geese

 

Christmas is coming,

The geese are getting fat,

Please to put a penny

In the old man's hat …

 

GEESE can be frightening creatures. A gal named Leslie du Preez bought five for her rural smallholding. She had visions of a tranquil sanctuary where animals could roam free. But the geese turned out to be "bastards" in her own words.

"They terrorised us!" she says. "They attacked on sight. We've had to walk around the property with sticks and brooms to fight them off so we can at least get things done."

 She posted a desperate ad with a Facebook buy-and-sell group: "We have a small flock of five geese, three males and two females that we need to rehome.

"Warning: They are bastards! The two biggest boys are terrifying and have the courage of a rampaging bull. The two girls and smaller boy are rather sweet.

"If you have a big family and a huge oven I suggest the two big ones make it a Merry Xmas.

"If you are game, put them in your yard for security, bug eating and fertilising purposes. No bastard will ever get past them. Even you will have to invent new ways to fool them.

"They are psycho man! They made me cry!! They have been known to rip tyres off moving cars!!! They have made grown men scream!!!!"

In spite of this recommendation, somebody came and collected the geese. Leslie du Preez can relax.

Where does she have her smallholding? The Karoo? The Western Cape? The KZN Midlands perhaps?

No, Jackie du Preez is in Queensland, Australia, according to Huffington Post. We're not told if she originates from South Africa or is the descendant of some other Huguenot migration.

 

OVERHEARD in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties; "There's this great new girlie mag for the married market that's come out. It's fantastic, just like Playboy or Penthouse except it has the same model on the cover and inside on the centrespread, month, after month after month …"

 

HAVE you ever heard Silent Night played on the bagpipes? You have your chance tomorrow and on Sunday. 1 Medical Battalion Pipe Band will be putting on their annual Carols and Kilts concerts this weekend.

Tomorrow's will be at the Shongweni Farmers' and Craft Market from 4.30 to 6.30pm. Sunday's will be in the Howard College Theatre, UKZN, from 2 to 4pm.

Carols on the bagpipes? Yes, various sets of Christmas tunes can be played on the pipes, says Graeme Fuller, of the Durban Caledonian Society. There will also be non-seasonal items.

"The pipers will combine some tunes with a keyboard, guitars, saxophones and kit drums. In addition, Celtic Heartbeat, our talented local twin dancers, Melissa and Samantha, will perform.

"On Saturday the singers will be Nick Tyler (bass drummer) and Garth Strydom (electric guitarist) and for the Sunday show they will be joined by a barbershop quartet called 4 Wheel Drive, which includes Mark Wood, father of the twin dancers."

Tickets can be bought at the venues or online via www.Quicket.co.za

Bagpipes, carols, saxophones, keyboards, dancers, barbershop quartet – the festive season is upon us.

Tailpiece

A KILTED Scotsman, an Essex girl and a Martian walk into a bar.

The landlord looks up and says: "What the heck is this? Some kind of joke?"

Last word

No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.

Henry Adams

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

TheIdler, November 6, 2018

Resounding

finale at

St Clement's

 

Dearest Fadduh, darling Muddah
How's my precious little bruddah …

 

THE final St Clement's arts soiree of the year resounded the other evening to the music of Wagner, Verdi, Puccini and other classical opera. But what do these classics have to do with the hilarious drivel by Al Sherman about the homesick American boy on vacation in Camp Granada?

Quite a bit actually. As retired judge Chris Nicholson pointed out in his presentation on opera, Sherman actually pinched the music backing his doggerel from classical opera. So did Nancy Sinatra with her songs.

Chris's point is that classical opera is not quite the removed, erudite business that many imagine. Passages of the music have become the backing to popular songs, familiar to people who have never set foot in an opera house.

He went on to play a succession of passages to illustrate his point, and it was astonishing. It turns out that a number of rugby songs actually have their melodic origin with composers like Puccini. Does this cloak them in a new respectability?

Chris is a fundi on the music of Wagner, but this was an all-round look at the popular strands in classical opera and, as his audience recognised the popularised bits, they sang along with gusto. Quite an evening, though I found my background with Maritzburg Collegians had provided me with rather different lyrics.

A stirring finale it was. Chris was called on again and again for encores. Lovely music, all of it. Wonderful that recordings can be played with such quality sound. A great way to wind up the year.

 

STILL with St Clements, Belgian Walloon Dr Jean-Marie Spitaels tells me he fears prosecution by the Belgian authorities for a banknote produced by a rascally graphic artist, purporting to be from the colonial era in the Congo – where Jean-Marie began his medical career. On this banknote Jean-Marie impersonates King Leopold II, of Belgium.

As mentioned in a previous column, the note has been produced to celebrate Jean-Marie's birthday early next year. But a correction. He is not turning 90, as mentioned, he is turning only 80 - the whippersnapper.

Jean-Marie plays up a storm on the harmonica. We look forward to another rousing performance.

 

IT'S with pride tinged with sadness that one reflects on Harvey Tyson, former editor of The Star, in Johannesburg, who died last week aged 90.

Harvey knew and was a confidante of General Jan Smuts, prime minister and world statesman, who wrote the preamble to the founding document of the UN.

Harvey also knew and was a confidante of Nelson Mandela, from the days before his imprisonment on Robben Island.

He steered The Star – and by example much of the rest of the English-language press - through a minefield of apartheid security legislation and states of emergency, ensuring, with great skill and often at great risk, that the reading public were not fooled. They knew what was going on.

Harvey was the ultimate professional, yet a man of great personal modesty. He never gave up, writing books in retirement. On a purely personal note, he introduced me to Famous Grouse whisky. Harvey also had taste.

 

Tailpiece

WHAT do you call a woman with a bottle-opener in one hand, a knife in the other, a pair of scissors between her toes on her left foot, and a corkscrew between her toes on her right foot?

A Swiss Army wife.

 

 

 

Last word

 

Mustard's no good without roast beef.

Chico Marx