Friday, December 31, 2010

Captain Cook, Friday, December 31

WHAT a week it's been for cricket. The drama of Melbourne, observed from the Thunder Bar, which is the only place open that time of the morning, to a thunderous snapping of suspender belts by the Ukrainian lapdancers who have by now developed a critical appreciation of cricket that is quite remarkable. And their immersion is in Test cricket, not the inferior one-day game nor the unspeakable Twenty20.

As curvaceous Katinka of the Crimea put it as Tim Bresnan bagged the final wicket for England to beat the Aussies by an innings plus: "Zis iss der real game, der Test, iss like der chess. Vun day iss der draughts. Tventy20 iss der pocket billiards! Me yiff you kissee, yes?" These gals learn really fast from the punters around them. They would fit in well at Lord's.

Yes, drama all the way, and not just in Melbourne. Here at Kingsmead it was a tantalising seesaw, plenty of action, Test cricket at its best. Okay, we blew it but that's showbiz. We get our chance again this weekend in Cape Town, but it seems even if we do pull it off we haven't done enough to pip India in the world ratings. But we'll be right up there.

Cricket is a strange game, and I was conducting research at The Pub With No Name the other evening when a sudden squall of rain drove research in an entirely different direction. I was with two fellow-members of the Florida Road rugby colloquium (now in summer recess). One second the night was clear and the festive lights were twinkling. The next a curtain of rain descended like a monsoon and people were scrambling for indoors. Perfect strangers found themselves sharing tables, some of the ladies so enticingly drenched that one wanted to invite them home to get out of those wet things.

It was like being at a Miss Wet T-Shirt competition on the London Underground, everything very close-up – and with drinks being served. As I say, perfect strangers were thrust into conversation.

One of our perfect strangers – and she was pretty damned near perfect – was a blonde from London who seemed to be conducting some kind of medical research. She wanted to know what, er, medication we males favour for performance enhancement in, er, the Lists of Venus.

This is not a usual topic of conversation in The Pub With No Name, where it is generally presumed without question that the habitu├ęs are of exceptional prowess in such matters. There was a great deal of joshing and I was perhaps able to point her in the right direction with some information about bangalala muti, developed in Lusikisiki by the late millionaire herbalist Khotso Sethunsa, who had a string of wives and even more mistresses. I think they call it advertising by example. I hope it helps in her researches.

Yes, sport can take us in all kinds of unexpected directions. More cricket this New Year's weekend, Newlands and Sydney. More of the Thunder Bar. You need bangalala muti to see you through.

The Idler, Friday, December 31, 2010

Bosman rides again

YOU CAN'T stop progress. Yet sometimes it almost seems a Higher Power is opposed to it. The other night I was at a reading of literary works in a Berea restaurant where my old pal Spyker Koekemoer (aka Pat Smythe, rugby raconteur) produced the story of a long-ago feud in a Free State dorp, which rankles to this day.

Spyker had recently returned from Smithfield. There he met some of the local citizens, including the rock-solid Oom Doors who spoke with real hurt of the way the town's church had been demolished.

The fact that it happened long ago in the almost forgotten days of the Union of South Africa, when we were ruled by a Governor-General, only lends force to the story.

It seems a group of townsfolk began agitating for the ancient church to be replaced by something bigger and more modern. They won control of the local kerkraad and the decision was taken.

Those opposed petitioned the Governor-General in Pretoria, who ordered that the old church should be saved. But before his order could be put into effect, the Governor-General suddenly died.

Those for the new church interpreted this as a sign from Above. Those against took the matter to court. The church's national Synod then intervened to stop this unseemliness and eventually ruled in favour of the modernisers.

A large, new, architecturally ugly church was built. Then it was time to demolish the old one.

"'They began with hammers, chisels, picks and shovels, to no avail. They resorted eventually to dynamite, firstly one stick, and then two. The cloth that clothed our lives was too well woven and shrugged off their efforts with disdain,' he (Oom Doors) continued.

 

"'Eventually,' he said quietly, 'the dynamite won and the old church rumbled as she crumbled under the power of the blast ... which simultaneously caused every window in the new church to shatter in a myriad of shards' A very satisfied smile creased his laughter lines, just a little.

 

"'Let us thank Our Lord,' he said, his voice no more than a whisper, 'for allowing us only 26 letters to use in our language; more would only have enticed our imagination to drive us further apart.'"

Pat now has the story on his Spyker Koekemoer blogsite. He is a devotee of Herman Charles Bosman, whose short stories so reveal the Afrikaner soul in the English language, and is on a mission to capture and record as much as he can of life on the platteland.

It's a worthy mission. You do still meet characters such as Oom Doors. And I myself now feel angry and aggrieved about that church business in Smithfield.

The demon booze

THE ABOVE recalls a discussion I once had with an Oom Doors type in northern Zululand. He had invited a colleague and I to join him in the local bar.

He ordered beers for my colleague and myself and Coca-Cola for himself. I remarked that he must be a teetotaler.

That was not entirely true, he said. He was very partial to brandy. In fact he drank brandy in doubles.

"But you know what happens when I drink a double brandy?"

"What?"

"I drink another one."

"I see."

"And you know what happens when I've drunk that second one?"

"What?"

"I drink another one. And you know what happens then?"

"You drink another one."

"Yes. And you know what happens then?"

"You drink another one."

"No. I start chasing women."

Then he launched into the account of how, after several double brandies, he had successfully pursued a woman. Unfortunately, however, his wife caught them in flagrante delicto. She started divorce proceedings.

"This was terrible. I didn't want to be divorced. I love my wife. But she insisted. We were right there on the courthouse steps when I persuaded her to change her mind. You know how I did it?"

"How?"

"I said to her: 'If God could forgive King David for his adultery, who are you not to forgive me for my adultery?' She thought about it. Then she told her lawyer to withdraw the case. That's why I'm drinking Coke."

I offer this to Spyker Koekemoer.

 

Tailpiece

VAN DER MERWE got thrown out of the casino. He completely mistook the purpose of the crap table.

Last word

It was no wonder that people were so horrible when they started life as children.

Kingsley Amis

GRAHAM LINSCOTT

The Idler, Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bosman rides again

YOU CAN'T stop progress. Yet sometimes it almost seems a Higher Power is opposed to it. The other night I was at a reading of literary works in a Berea restaurant where my old pal Spyker Koekemoer (aka Pat Smythe, rugby raconteur) produced the story of a long-ago feud in a Free State dorp, which rankles to this day.

Spyker had recently returned from Smithfield. There he met some of the local citizens, including the rock-solid Oom Doors who spoke with real hurt of the way the town's church had been demolished.

The fact that it happened long ago in the almost forgotten days of the Union of South Africa, when we were ruled by a Governor-General, only lends force to the story.

It seems a group of townsfolk began agitating for the ancient church to be replaced by something bigger and more modern. They won control of the local kerkraad and the decision was taken.

Those opposed petitioned the Governor-General in Pretoria, who ordered that the old church should be saved. But before his order could be put into effect, the Governor-General suddenly died.

Those for the new church interpreted this as a sign from Above. Those against took the matter to court. The church's national Synod then intervened to stop this unseemliness and eventually ruled in favour of the modernisers.

A large, new, architecturally ugly church was built. Then it was time to demolish the old one.

"'They began with hammers, chisels, picks and shovels, to no avail. They resorted eventually to dynamite, firstly one stick, and then two. The cloth that clothed our lives was too well woven and shrugged off their efforts with disdain,' he (Oom Doors) continued.

 

"'Eventually,' he said quietly, 'the dynamite won and the old church rumbled as she crumbled under the power of the blast ... which simultaneously caused every window in the new church to shatter in a myriad of shards' A very satisfied smile creased his laughter lines, just a little.

 

"'Let us thank Our Lord,' he said, his voice no more than a whisper, 'for allowing us only 26 letters to use in our language; more would only have enticed our imagination to drive us further apart.'"

Pat now has the story on his Spyker Koekemoer blogsite. He is a devotee of Herman Charles Bosman, whose short stories so reveal the Afrikaner soul in the English language, and is on a mission to capture and record as much as he can of life on the platteland.

It's a worthy mission. You do still meet characters such as Oom Doors. And I myself now feel angry and aggrieved about that church business in Smithfield.

The demon booze

THE ABOVE recalls a discussion I once had with an Oom Doors type in northern Zululand. He had invited a colleague and I to join him in the local bar.

He ordered beers for my colleague and myself and Coca-Cola for himself. I remarked that he must be a teetotaler.

That was not entirely true, he said. He was very partial to brandy. In fact he drank brandy in doubles.

"But you know what happens when I drink a double brandy?"

"What?"

"I drink another one."

"I see."

"And you know what happens when I've drunk that second one?"

"What?"

"I drink another one. And you know what happens then?"

"You drink another one."

"Yes. And you know what happens then?"

"You drink another one."

"No. I start chasing women."

Then he launched into the account of how, after several double brandies, he had successfully pursued a woman. Unfortunately, however, his wife caught them in flagrante delicto. She started divorce proceedings.

"This was terrible. I didn't want to be divorced. I love my wife. But she insisted. We were right there on the courthouse steps when I persuaded her to change her mind. You know how I did it?"

"How?"

"I said to her: 'If God could forgive King David for his adultery, who are you not to forgive me for my adultery?' She thought about it. Then she told her lawyer to withdraw the case. That's why I'm drinking Coke."

I offer this to Spyker Koekemoer.

 

Tailpiece

VAN DER MERWE got thrown out of the casino. He completely mistook the purpose of the crap table.

Last word

It was no wonder that people were so horrible when they started life as children.

Kingsley Amis

GRAHAM LINSCOTT

The Idler, Wednesday, December 29, 2020

Preserving for posterity

HOWS DOES a zebra crossing get "listed" as being of architectural significance? It's happened to the zebra crossing in Abbey Road, London, leading to the studio where the Beatles recorded much of their music.

A photograph of the Fab Four using the crossing more than 40 years ago to get to the studio was used as the jacket cover for one of their albums. It has since been reproduced many thousands of times.

Now the site has been given Grade II status by the heritage minister John Penrose - a status normally given to buildings. Says Penrose: "It's a fantastic testimony to the international fame of the Beatles that, more than 40 years on, this crossing continues to attract thousands of visitors each year."

Says Roger Bowdler, head of designation at English Heritage: "This is obviously an unusual case, and although a modest structure, the crossing has international renown and continues to possess huge cultural pull."

It means nobody can interfere with that Abbey Road zebra crossing. Nobody can "improve" or develop it. The crossing will remain broad white stripes on the road and a pair of flashing belisha beacons.

Does this have any application to Durban? As it happens, the municipality is indeed considering establishing a road crossing that will be fixed immutably in time, not to be altered in any way. I'm told the Overport interchange is a strong contender, though there are others.

Traffic lights will function. Repairmen will be on hand to put them right the instant anything goes wrong. Metro police will be constantly stationed there to direct traffic if this should happen; otherwise to arrest red light jumpers.

As a spokesman for the city manager's office explained: "We want to create a relic of the past, virtually a time capsule. We want people to know and never forget the full wickedness and oppressiveness of the era we have left behind."

Hopeful tweet

I LIKE the tweet received by the commentary box during the current Test against India. Somebody on the Gold Coast, Australia, asked plaintively if there's any outside chance that Dale Steyn has Aussie roots "so he can be brought in for the second day at Melbourne".

Ol' Dixie

A message in a bottle delivered to a Confederate general during the American Civil War has been deciphered, 147 years after it was written.

The small bottle was given to the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, by a former Confederate soldier in 1896.

Earlier this year the museum's collections manager, Catherine Wright, decided to investigate the note it contained. She enlisted the help of CIA and US Navy code-breakers to decipher the encrypted message.

What did it say? "Send more Jack Daniels"? "The chorus line at the New Orleans Boa and Feather are on our side"?

Alas, rather more prosaic. General John Pemberton is told that no reinforcements are available to help him defend Vicksburg, Mississippi. "You can expect no help from this side of the river."

The message is dated July 4, 1863 - the day Vicksburg fell to Union forces. Historians regard the fall of Vicksburg as an important victory for the Union. The Confederates were eventually defeated in 1865.

It's not explained why the message was in a bottle. Confederate commanders surely didn't just throw bottles into the Mississippi to communicate. That would be even worse than the famous World War I miscommunication by field telephone from the trenches to HQ when "Send reinforcements, we're going to advance" became "Send three-and-fourpence, we're going to a dance" – which was interpreted as facetiousness and ignored, with serious military consequences.

Chelsea tractors

RANGE Rovers, Land Rover Freelanders and other SUVs are known in London as "Chelsea tractors", driven mainly by yummy mummies between the Knightsbridge shops and the smarter schools.

In the current freeze-up they are now showing themselves to be the most practical vehicle on the snow-blocked roads.

Now an insurance company has produced statistics to show that almost one in five vehicles registered in Chelsea actually are 4X4 "tractors".

It might seem an astonishingly high figure – but I'm sure the Berea would beat it. Lots of shopping, lots of top schools and lots of yummy mummies.

 

Tailpiece

 

WHY DID THE fool shrug?

 

He was the court gesture.

 

Last word

 

THE race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet. – Damon Runyan.

 

GRAHAM LINSCOTT

The Idler, Tuesday, December 27, 2010

Taking the festive plunge

PEOPLE worldwide are impelled to take the plunge over the holiday season. In London, the annual 100m race in the Serpentine in Hyde Park on Christmas Day had to be cancelled because it had frozen over. Yet about 40 people found a section of the lake where the ice had been broken up and they jumped in anyway.

In Wales, more than 600 turned up at Porthcawl to swim in the surf in spite of an atmospheric temperature of minus 10 degrees Centigrade.

In Durban, Marine Surf Livesaving Club, at Addington Beach, had their annual braai out at the shark nets.

The lifesavers have welded together two 44-gallon drums to make a raft, on top of which is mounted a split drum to hold the braai fire. The raft is towed out to the shark nets by the rubberduck and tied up to them for the braai. Participants paddle out on their surfboards.

Proceedings are very formal. The paddlers have to be properly dressed, wearing speedos, hats and ties.

This shark nets braai has been happening for the past 30 years.

Police brutality

THE HYDE Park swim is a traditional charity event. I imagine that if you jumped into the Serpentine any other time you'd be picked up by the Fuzz.

Once I was in London during a freeze-up similar to the current one. I was with a group down at Trafalgar Square in the early hours to witness a wager. Great icicles dripped from the fountains. The water surface was frozen. Two of our number were in their Y-fronts. They'd wagered over a dinner table at nearby South Kensington that they would swim a lap round the Trafalgar Square fountains.

They had to break the thin layer of ice to get in. Then they set off, splashing and gasping.

Then suddenly the whole vicinity was surrounded by Bobbies. They seemed to have materialised out of nowhere.

"It w-w-was a b-b-bet, officer," said one of the swimmers through chattering teeth. "We're g-g-g-going home now."

"No you ain't," said the sergeant. "One more lap otherwise I nicks yer!"

They had to get in again and do another lap - police brutality.

 

 

Calory intake


SOME tips on countering the calory intake over the festive season:

* If you eat a cookie fresh out of the oven, it has no calories because everyone knows that the first cookie is the test and thus calory free.

* If you drink a diet soda after eating your second cookie, it also has no calories because the diet soda cancels out the cookie calories.

* If a friend comes over while you're baking your cookies and needs to sample, you must sample with your friend. Because your friend's first cookie is calory free, yours is also. It would be rude to let your friend sample alone.

* Cookie calories consumed while walking around will fall to your feet and eventually fall off as you move. This is due to gravity and the density of the calorific mass.

* Cookies coloured red or green have very few calories. Red ones have three and green ones have five - one calory for each letter.


Tailpiece

A LORRY driver in Essex stops at a red light and a blonde pulls up alongside in her car. She jumps out, runs up to his lorry cab and knocks. The driver lowers the window. She says: "Hi, my name's Sharon and you're losing some of your load!"

The trucker ignores her. When the lorry stops for another red light, the girl again catches up. She jumps out of her car, runs up to his cab and knocks. "Hi, my name is Sharon and you definitely are losing some of your load."

Shaking his head, the driver ignores her again and continues down the street. 

At the third red light, the same thing happens again. All out of breath, the blonde gets out of her car, runs up, knocks and says: "Hi, my name is Sharon and you really are losing some of your load!"

The light turns green, the driver revs and races to the next light. When he stops this time, he jumps out of his lorry and runs back to the blonde: "Hi, my name's Kevin and I'm gritting the road."

 

Last word

I have an existential map. It has "You are here" written all over it.

Steven Wright

GRAHAM LINSCOTT

Idler Monday, December 27, 2010

More bug for your buck

A DUTCH professor wants us to include insects in our diet. Arnold Van Huis, Professor of Entomology at Wageningen University, says bugs are nutritious and full of goodness and if people in the West could override their culturally indoctrinated sense of disgust, the environment would benefit.

He believes a population explosion and rising living standards have caused a "meat crisis".

"Twenty years ago people ate just 20kg of meat, now it is 50kg. In 20 years from now it will be even more and we will soon run out of planet."

He says insects taste good and are packed full of vitamins. They are often eaten to bulk out the diet in Asia, where a hot climate means they are a bountiful foodstuff.

But if they were farmed on an industrial scale they would be an environmentally friendly alternative to meat.

Insects are cold blooded so they do not need to convert food energy into heat; consequently you get more bug for your buck.

To prove his point, Prof Van Huis gobbled up a couple of freeze-dried crickets for the television cameras.

Van Huis is a man with a large, beak-like nose. In fact he looks very much like a hadedah.

 

Dark Ages

"IT'S LIKE the Dark Ages," a woman whined for the TV cameras at Heathrow airport, where thousands of people were camping in the terminal as flights were cancelled due to heavy snow.

Er, not quite the Dark Ages, dear. The roof wasn't leaking, the central heating was working and there were restaurants and cafeterias all over the place. All right, an airport terminal floor isn't the most comfortable place to sleep but in the Dark Ages they'd have been more than happy with it.

Your discomfort was temporary. In a matter of days you would be on your flight to Ibiza, or wherever you were headed for your holiday in the sun. In the Dark Ages they stayed put.

It's extraordinary how today's Brits have to blame somebody - the airport company, the airline, anybody – for what is quite obviously a natural phenomenon beyond human intervention.

They say you can always tell when an aircraft carrying British package tourists has landed. The whine continues after the engines switch off.

Yes, just like the Dark Ages.

 

Snowquake

AS IF SNOW weren't enough, the Lake District in England has been shaken by an earth tremor registering 3.5 on the Richter scale. The epicentre was 30 miles south-southwest of Carlisle.

However, the effect was slight, not even enough to dislodge Christmas decorations.

All the same, nature is asserting itself. I can't recall Wordsworth writing anything about earthquakes.

Fundraiser

NEWSFLASH - Sir Bob Geldof has announced that a fundraising concert for Ireland is to be held in Ethiopia in the New Year.

Street crime

A DWARF got pickpocketed in the CBD last week. How could anyone stoop so low?

Bad trip

Two heroin addicts have injected themselves with curry powder by mistake Both are in intensive care. One has a dodgy tikka and the other is in a korma.

Uncracked safe

MORE from Bill Bryson's Bizarre World (Warner Books):

AFTER he was unable to open a safe he had stolen, Wiener Bryan of Rochester, New York, spent $31 in cab fares taking it around town in a futile effort to get it open before finally giving up and dumping it in the Seneca River. Wiener's reaction when he learned, after being arrested and sentenced to 20 years in jail, that the safe contained only 44 pencils and some postage stamps, was not recorded.

 

Tailpiece

THE TELEPHONE rings and the lady of the house answers: "Hello."

"Mrs Smith please."

"Speaking."

"Mrs Smith, this is DrJones at St Agnes laboratory. When your husband's doctor sent his biopsy to the lab last week, a biopsy from another Mr Smith arrived as well.We are now uncertain which one belongs to your husband. Frankly, either way the results are not too good."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, one of the specimens tested positive for Alzheimer's and the other tested positive for HIV.We can't tell which is which."

"That's dreadful! What am I supposed to do now?"

"We recommend that you drop your husband off somewhere in the middle of town. If he finds his way home, don't sleep with him."

Last word

Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.

Euripides

GRAHAM LINSCOTT

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Captain Cook Friday, December 24, 2010

DOWN Under, the Ashes High Noon starts tomorrow. This is developing into a fascinating contest – even stevens, two matches to come. One had a feeling the Aussies just had to come back, and Oh Boy – did they come back! Can England recover their poise? This is one to watch closely amid the leggy distractions and suspender snappings of the Thunder Bar, which is the only place open that hour of the morning.

And then drama is sure to unfold here at Kingsmead from Boxing Day. After the rains we've been having it's going to be like a sauna bath, the new ball swinging like crazy. I hope the grounds staff have  prepared a green mamba the way they used to. Let's see what Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell can make of it. This should be a humdinger for the pacemen.

As ever, so much depends on the toss. Whoever bats first will be on an outgoing tide just off springs, a lot of sponginess still in the wicket but drying as the day progresses. It will be much the same on the second day, except more so.

Day three will be a good one for whoever is batting. Again wettish early on, but three days off spring tide. It should be manageable.

But the last two days we should see fun and games. Although we're getting well off spring tide, we'll be on full high tide in both pre-lunch sessions. This is when things happen at Kingsmead.

Small shoals of mullet leap in the covers. The dorsal fin of a shark can be spotted circling here and there. The fiddler crabs appear and, with their large red claws, are a constant menace to slip fielders crouching low. A batsman is liable to be seized round the ankle by an octopus; gannets dive at cover point. The pitch is distinctly damp and anything can happen.

Yes, this is Kingsmead, no ground quite like it. And now we have the added factor of the Umgeni crocodiles. With their apparent settling in at Blue Lagoon, what can keep them out of Kingsmead at high tide? Fielders could actually disappear.

India have everything to prove, and their bowling must surely perk up on what was displayed at Centurion. But the odds have to favour our fellows, if only because of their familiarity with the extraordinary conditions of Kingsmead.

Meanwhile, sometimes it's difficult to grasp that what's at stake here is No 1 spot in the world rankings. It's between us and India, the current holders, and Down Under they're scrapping over No 3 and No 4, in spite of the Ashes. How the world has changed.

What a year it's been. The rugby Currie Cup and regular demolition of the streetlights with the gals' knicker elastic – the Florida Road feu de joie. And now a chance to top the world rankings at cricket. See you at the carol service tonight at the Pub With No Name. Just ask for Trev the Rev.

The Idler, Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas story

IT'S THE TIME of giving, when to give is better than to receive. It began with the Three Wise Men – the Magi – who made their way to Bethlehem with gifts. The gifts are symbolic of something much deeper.

Did anyone ever express it better than American writer O Henry in his little story, The Gift of the Magi?

Della and Jim are dead broke in a flat somewhere during the Great Depression. It's Christmas Eve and Della has $1.87 exactly left over from her budget, with which to buy Jim a present.

But she has lovely tresses of brown hair down to her waist, her husband's pride and joy and her own. She cuts them off and sells them to a wig-maker for $20. With that she buys him a chain for the gold watch that is his pride and joy.

Jim comes home. He's stunned to see her close-cropped hair. The more so when she shows him the watch chain she bought.

He shows her the tortoiseshell combs he bought her to tie up her tresses of hair. To pay for them, he'd sold his gold watch.

It sounds like a total fiasco, yet each realises that the other's gift is something absolutely special, beyond value.

As O Henry puts it: "The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi."

 

Take your pick!

PLEASE accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress,  non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your  choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or  traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all ... and a fiscally successful, personally  fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of  the generally accepted calendar year 2011, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose  contributions to society have helped South Africa to become great  (not to imply that South Africa is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only "South Africa" in the southern hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, or sexual preference of the wishee …

Or, to be politically incorrect: Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe New Year!
 
Tailpiece

A SCOTSMAN phones his son in London."I hate to ruin your day but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; 45 years of misery is enough."

"Dad, what are you talking about?'

"We can't stand the sight of each other any longer. We're sick of each other and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Leeds and tell her". 


The sister explodes on the phone. "Like hell they're getting divorced! I'll take care of this!".

She phones Scotland and yells at her father: "You are not getting divorced! Don't do a single thing until I get there! We'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a thing! Do you hear me?"

The old man hangs up and says to his wife: "Done! The bairns are coming for Christmas - and they're paying their own way.

Last word

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home! ~Charles Dickens

GRAHAM LINSCOTT

The Idler, Thursday, December 23, 2010

The ivories tinkle again

 

THE SEASON becomes suddenly more festive. Dick Cocks, former Natal rugby player and selector, is back from his native Australia for Christmas, making merry at places such as his old club, DHS Old Boys.

 

The last time I saw Cocksy before he returned to Australia on a permanent basis was at Maritzburg Collegians. It was three o'clock in the morning and he was thumping and roaring at the piano after a rugby dinner. Here is a man who understands the true ethos of rugby.

 

This time Dick has with him his wife, Glynis, kids Lesley and Michael and kids' friend, Debbie. They've been on a tour of southern Africa, including Victoria Falls.

 

Here, Cocksy tells me, the kids forced him to jump into a gorge from a dizzy height in some kind of foefie-slide harness that swings you across and back – a terrifying experience.

 

Next day they went white-water rafting below the falls and Cocksy fell off and traversed the rapids mainly under the raft - not to be recommended either, rather like being keelhauled..

 

He was most disappointed when, on their drive up from the Cape, it was pouring with rain at the Storms River bridge and the bungee jumping facility was closed.

 

I forebore to tell Cocksy (or his kids) about the bungee jump at Moses Mabhida stadium or the crocodile-wrestling that is laid on these days at Blue Lagoon. A man must be allowed to relax.

 

It's great to have the old blighter back in Durban. Great to have the piano keyboards disturbed again.

 

 

 

Kallis castled

 

THAT noted cricket analyst, Spyker Koekemoer, remarks of the Kallis affair: "Even the great Jacques Kallis can be castled through the gate when he tries to drive."

 

That about sums it up. Who cares if he'd had a tot or two? I say that when a fellow scores a double ton he's entitled to any number of little indiscretions.

 

Who is this Spyker Koekemoer? He's not to be confused with Vernon Koekemoer, the Benoni bodybuilder and heart-throb who also manages a Nandos. Spyker is a serious fellow who writes regularly to a gentleman in the Marico called Oom Schalk about all kinds of matters of the day.

 

He's also known as Pat Smythe, a stalwart of Duikers Rugby Club, who specialises these days in rediscovering the world of Herman Charles Bosman, still alive and well on the platteland.

 

Entrapment

 

TWO London journalists posed as ordinary Liberal Democrat supporters to coax Vince Cable, Lib-Dem Secretary for Business in Britain's coalition government, into saying some indiscreet and embarrassing – though wholly unsurprising – things to them in his constituency office.

 

Has entrapment now become the norm on Fleet Street? This was not some red-top tabloid, it was the supposedly respectable Daily Telegraph.

 

Hillaire Belloc had it spot-on:

 

You cannot hope to bribe or twist

Thank God the British journalist.

But considering what the man will do

Unbribed there's no occasion to.

 

Ayoop!

THE PITFALLS of dialect. A Yorkshireman takes his cat to the vet.

"Ayoop, lad, I need to talk to thee about me cat."

"Is it a tom?"

"Nay, lad - I've browt 'im wi' us."

 

Finnegan's wake

 

MORE from Bill Bryson's Bizarre World (Warner Books):

 

A 22-year-old Irishman, Bob Finnegan, was crossing the busy Falls Road in Belfast when he was struck by a taxi and flung over its roof. The taxi drove away and, as Finnegan lay stunned in the road, another car ran into him, rolling him into the gutter. It too drove on. As a knot of gawkers gathered to examine the magnetic Irishman, a delivery van ploughed through the crowd, leaving in its wake three injured bystanders and an even more battered Bob Finnegan. When a fourth vehicle came along, the crowd wisely scattered and only one person was hit – Bob Finnegan. In the space of two minutes Finnegan suffered a fractured skull, broken pelvis, broken leg and other assorted injuries. Hospital officials said he would recover.

 

Tailpiece

 

A FLEA jumps over the batwing doors of a saloon, sinks three whiskies then jumps out again. Then he picks himself up from the dirt, dusts himself down and says: "OK. Who moved my dog?"

 

Last word

 

Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some hire public relations officers.

Daniel J Boorstin

GRAHAM LINSCOTT