Friday, March 23, 2012

The Idler, Monday, March 26, 2012

But I'm a Yorkshireman …

I'D RATHER be droonded than done … so goes the old Yorkshire expression. It came to mind as Yorkshireman Sir Dave Richards fell into a water fountain in Doha, Qatar, soon after saying at a sports conference that Fifa and Uefa have stolen the game of football from England.

It didn't help that Sir Dave, who is chairman of England's Premier League, had also been decrying the difficulty involved in getting a pint of beer in Qatar.

But it had all been in jest, Sir Dave protested when the English FA and the Premier League both distanced themselves from his comments. "I'm a Yorkshireman and I'm quite broad and if I say something it can be taken a little bit out of context."

One sympathises with Sir Dave. But he should know that these days you're not allowed to make jokes, to be broad. Put a foot out of line and you'll have all sorts of people down on you like a ton of bricks.



Freddie Trueman

ONE OF THE broadest of Yorkshiremen was England fast bowler Freddie Trueman. Stories about him abound. Here are two:

As the opposing batsman starts his walk back to the pavilion, his wickets spreadeagled by a Trueman delivery, he says: "Nice ball, Freddie."

"Aye, but wasted on thee."

Then there was the time he appealed for leg-before. The umpire shook his head. Next ball he struck the batsman's pads and he appealed again. The umpire again shook his head.

The following ball took the batman's middle stump.

Trueman to umpire: "Ee, that were close!"



OF COURSE, the definition of a Yorkshireman is a Scotsman with all the generosity squeezed out of him. But I had better desist from this line before I fall foul of the politically correct who will accuse me of making fun of regional accents and reinforcing stereotypes. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Wheear 'ast tha bin sin' ah saw thee, ah saw thee?

On Ilkla Mooar baht 'at …


I can on occasion be heard singing all nine verses in the Street Shelter for the Over-40s.




Alpha to Zulu


DELTA Oscar - Yankee Oscar Uniform - Charlie Oscar Mike Echo - Hotel Echo Romeo Echo - Oscar Foxtrot Tango Echo November? No, the Nato phonetic alphabet is not quite the medium of social chatter. Easier to say: "Do you come here often?"


But the military have devised it for absolute clarity of signals in conditions of emergency. The initial letter of each word is what counts. And the wags have, of course, revised it.


Bevis Beck sends in a version often quoted by his uncle, Bobs van der Riet, who was a sugar farmer at Chaka's Kraal. It's presented in the form of "A for …., B for …. etc". Some of the meanings are pretty obscure today, some (for me at least) totally baffling. But here goes:



A for 'orses; B for mutton; C for th' Highlanders; D for rential; E for Adam; F for vescence; G for police chief; H for wisdom; I for Novello; J for oranges; K for Francis; L for leather; M for sis; N for a dig; O for the garden wall; P for penny; Q for billiards; R for mo; S for you ;T for two; U for me; V for la France; W for a bob; X for breakfast; Y for goodness sake; Z for breeze.


It's all very clever. Some are rather obscure. C refers to the Seaforth Highlanders; Ivor Novello was a popular musical entertainer in the 30s and 40s; Kay Francis was an American actress in the same era. A Zephyr ("Z for") is a breeze. Jaffa oranges come from Israel. "W for a bob" means I'll double you on an original bet of sixpence. "R for mo" is the Cockney "'alf a mo'".


I'm totally stumped by "G for police chief" and "H for wisdom". Does anyone out there know?


Meanwhile, Tango Hotel Alpha November Kilo - Yankee Oscar Uniform - Bravo Echo Victor India Sierra.





Last word

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

Albert Einstein



Captain Cook, Friday, March 23, 2012

WHAT a St Patrick's Day! Seventeen-nil down after 30 minutes, 17-10 at halftime then a final scoreline of 27-22 to us. The New South Wales Waratahs must be a little thoughtful. Our blokes combine beef, skills and character in a mix that means anything can happen.

In the Duikers' Club afterwards conversation rose above its customary decorous hum. Here comes a season where things are going to happen! Like bok-bok and the hula dance by the Tattooed Lady. Later we repaired to the La Bella Street Shelter for the Over-40s, where those still on their feet were in a delirium of joy. I presume the customary feu de joie was fired at the streetlights with catapults fashioned from the ladies' knicker elastic, but inquiries proved fruitless as those who were not singing Zulu Warrior seemed speechless. Indeed, a famous victory!

We've gone up a couple of gears every match so far. How many tomorrow? But the important thing was that we showed we don't just have the gears, we're able to dig the machine out of the mire when things seem hopeless. It's known as gees.

Those Queensland guys seem a race of giants. Fast giants too; the way their threequarters moved and changed direction was magnificent. How we kept them out, apart from those couple of lapses, was remarkable - but a great omen. The game was played in a return of tropical storm Irina – she just won't go away, the pesky lady – which meant two running, handling sides having to adapt their style. Who knows what might have happened on a dry evening?

Meanwhile, Cymru am byth – Wales forever! The boyos chalked up another Grand Slam in the Six Nations, which is what they richly deserved. It's delightful to see a youngish team, not exactly studded with stars, taking it with zest and skill, playing as a 15-man unit. For my money they were the best side at the World Cup last year and last Saturday must have tasted especially sweet as it was France who beat them 9-8 in the World Cup semi-final.

Now Wales say they want a pop at the Boks, the All Blacks and the Wallabies. I'm not sure when these opportunities will come up – maybe at the end of the season - but they will be humdingers when they do. Wales seem set to enter another golden era. The atmosphere in Cardiff was absolutely electric - the singing better than the Duikers' Club and the Street Shelter for the Over-40s combined. And that's saying something.

Speaking of which, England will soon take a pop at us. Last weekend they demolished Ireland, at Twickenham, following their absolutely thrilling away win over France. Here's a side that's coming together, firing on all cylinders. In June they'll be out here for three Tests. Hmmm. This will be good.

Meanwhile, our focus switches to Van Diemensland. New South Wales tomorrow. It's an early starter. Get her to nudge you awake and make you coffee. 'Erewego, 'erewego, 'erewego!

The Idler, Friday, March 23, 2012

Greek bailout latest

BREAKTHROUGH in the Greek debt crisis? American satirist Andy Borowitz suggests it could be in sight.

"In what many are hailing as a breakthrough solution to Greece's crippling debt crisis, Greece today offered to repay a bailout from the European Union nations by giving them a gigantic horse.

"Finance ministers from 16 EU nations awoke in Brussels to find that a huge wooden horse had been wheeled into the city centre overnight.

"The horse, measuring several storeys in height, drew mixed responses from the finance ministers, many of whom said they would have preferred a cash repayment of the EU's bailout.

"But German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she 'welcomed the beautiful wooden horse', adding: 'What harm could it possibly do?'"

Oh, lovely stuff!

Turtle catchers

INFORMATION comes in on the remora, the parasite sucker-fish that attached itself to a surfboard at Dairy Beach recently.

Monty English, former Springbok game fisherman and a man who has fished for marlin all over the world, says different species of remora are found in numbers in every warm water ocean.

The sucker by which they attach themselves to sharks and other large fish evolved from the dorsal fin. In Australia, Aboriginal fishermen used them to catch sea turtles. A loop of line would be put around the remora's tail and it would be cast towards the turtle. It would attach itself and the turtle would be hauled in.

Monty says remoras do sometimes move in shoals and they do take baited hooks. They attach themselves to any large sea creature and have been known to attach themselves to scuba divers swimming over reefs.

Colin McLean says one of his party caught a remora from a boat in Durban harbour about 50 years ago. It was caught on a hook baited with bay shrimp.

"Then one recalls the verse, to the tune of Valencia: 'Remora! Wie de hel het jou vertel … etcetera etcetera …'" (The etceteras have to come in at this point because from here the line becomes unprintable).

Meanwhile, an anonymous reader points out that the famous advertising line needs some adaptation.

"Where's the Remora?"

"It's not inside, its underneath!"

Red cards at home

PEOPLE are becoming highly critical of the quality of the refereeing in the Super 15 rugby competition (Though I feel our own Craig Joubert has been exemplary. Natch! He went to Maritzburg College).

I have it from impeccable sources that in one household at Mount Edgecombe golf estate, the wife has introduced a system of yellow and red cards for her husband as they watch on television.

If he waxes unduly wroth at the ref's decision, she issues a yellow card and he has to leave the room for 10 minutes. For persistent offending, she issues the red and he has to leave for the rest of the game. (Though he is allowed afterwards to watch a tape of what he has missed).

Who are these folk? Step forward Jeremy Nel, who played centre for the Boks in the 1950s and went on to become head honcho of Johannesburg Consolidated Investments; plus his wife Sheila.

As the Aussies would say: This is some Sheila!


US PRESIDENT Barack Obama is so popular in Columbia that they organised a lookalike competition in the city of Cartagena. Motor mechanic Carlos Alberto Perez was chosen from five finalists after making a bus trip of 1 200 km, at the insistence of his boss.

I only hope one of the four runners-up hadn't made a rather longer journey from Washington. After all, when Bing Crosby once sent in a tape for a "Who sounds most like Bing Crosby" crooning competition, he came third.

Road manners

Teach a child to be polite and courteous in the home and, when he grows up, he'll never be able to merge his car onto the freeway.

Bumper sticker

"I went to San Francisco. I found someone's heart. Now what?"


THE GALS are at coffee. One seems troubled.

"What's the matter? You look stressed."

"It's my boyfriend. He's lost everything in a stock market crash – money, savings, everything. He's bankrupt."

"You must be worried about him."

"Sure am. How's he going to cope without me?"

Last word


The best measure of a man's honesty isn't his income tax return. It's the zero adjust on his bathroom scale.

Arthur C Clarke


The Idler, Thursday, March 22, 2012

The lone blue-lighter

IS IT STRAITENED budgetary resources, or have the blue light boys been told to tone it down?

Driving up the old North Coast road this week, suddenly a shrieking siren was at my window, the blue lights flashing in the reflector mirrors.

But it was a solitary motocyclist, gesturing with one hand for motorists to pull over and let the Panjandrum through. Sure enough, through he came in a solitary SUV, lights flashing.

But there was something less than overpoweringly macho about this display. Just one motorcycle flashing the blue lights? Just one SUV? It was faintly comical. Try to think of a member of the Household Cavalry, on his own and riding a Shetland pony.

Maybe it was just a minor panjandrum, on his way to inspect the local sewage works. Or maybe – just maybe – the big panjandrums are themselves becoming embarrassed by the blue light business.

But I wouldn't put money on it.

Average trapping

CREDIT where credit's due. A fellow who drives regularly between Durban and Johannesburg says this average speed trapping system - which cuts out the lark of speeding then jamming on brakes just before spots where radar trapping devices are known to operate – is fearsomely effective.

The radar picks up a vehicle as it passes, then picks it up again many kilometres on, and instantly works out its average speed. If that speed is above the limit, off goes a speeding ticket in the post. No arguments!

My informant says he himself picked up two tickets the trip before last, but has since adjusted. So have the drivers of heavy duty trucks, who used to imitate Le Mans but today crawl nose to tail, never exceeding the 80 km/h to which they are limited.

It seems transport managers have freaked at the speeding tickets that were pouring in and have put their foot down. Suddenly the roads are a lot safer.

It's nice to hear some good news.


MEANWHILE, drivers who fume at being trapped by radar can console themselves with the little poem composed by Sir Robert Watson-Watt, the man credited with having invented radar before World War II, which played such a key role in defeating Hitler.

Sir Robert emigrated to Canada after the war, then went to live in the US. Trapped for speeding in Canada during his later years, he mused thus:

Pity Sir Robert Watson-Watt,

Strange target of this radar plot

And thus, with others I can mention,

The victim of his own invention.

His magical all-seeing eye

Enabled cloud-bound planes to fly

But now by some ironic twist

It spots the speeding motorist

And bites, no doubt with legal wit,

The hand that once created it.


Against a mind like that, Hitler had not a chance.


Apartheid's shadow


IT'S THE TIME of the Writer. At UKZN, writers from all over Africa and other parts of the developing world are reading from their work at this annual jamboree. And I'm delighted to say one of our number at the weekly St Clement's soiree of the daubing, strumming and scribbling classes is among them.


Rick Andrew will be reading from his book, Guitar Road, which describes his personal development as a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter from the days when, as a scruffy student on the Maritzburg campus, and hanging out with a crowd who partook freely of, er, herbal cigarettes of great fragrancy, they would rail against the iniquities of apartheid then – because there wasn't much they could do about it – try to forget it all in music.


What makes this book different is that it comes with a CD of that music – and pretty rousing and melodious stuff it is too. I'm not sure whether Rick will actually play it at Time of the Writer, but it would be a good idea.


There's a great truthfulness in this account of the shadow apartheid cast on those who were not its direct victims. Also the cruel disillusionment of the post-apartheid era.


But they can't stop the music.




PADDY and Mick are out on the marshes hunting duck. They've been there all day and they haven't got a single one.


Paddy: "Dis is most disheartening."

 Mick: "Sure, I tink next toime dey fly over we must trow de dogs a little higher."



Last word


Hollywood is a place where they place you under contract instead of under observation.

Walter Winchell


Monday, March 19, 2012

The Idler, Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Surfing with a sucker

A COLLEAGUE was surfing at Dairy Beach the other day when he found a remora – the parasite sucker fish that attaches itself to a shark – stuck to the bottom of his surfboard.

He tried to prise it off but every time the little critter – about four inches long – would wriggle back to his original position. In the end he left him there and surfed for about an hour before at last getting rid of him in the shorebreak and going home.

How common is this? I've never before heard of a remora attaching itself to a surfboard.

Come to think of it, where do remoras hang out when not attached to a shark? We're used to seeing them in aquariums, always attached to their host shark, but what do they do otherwise?

Are there shoals of them swimming about in the ocean looking for a shark or a surfboard? What do they feed on when a shark is not doing the hunting for them? Can you catch them on a fish hook? Do they ever attach themselves to a large Free Stater?

The questions are endless. Until this incident, I for one had never given much thought to remoras. Does anyone out there know more about them?

It's on top!

THE ABOVE has echoes of a famous advert:

"Where's the remora?"

"It's not inside, it's on top!"

Circle of life

THE OTHER day I strolled into a local hostelry where I encountered a colleague. He was there, he said, to buy some Guinness. He'd laid in a small stock of the stuff to make a beef and Guinness pie but had absent-mindedly drunk it. Now the lady of the house was demanding that the pie be baked.

It's just one of those things that happen in life. As he left with his Guinness, I hoped he wouldn't get home to find the dog had eaten the beef. That's another thing that kind of happens in life.

Then he'd drink the Guinness because there was nothing else to do with it and … That's how life goes.

Good and Bad Habit

IT'S NOSTALGIA time. Word comes this way that they're holding a session on Friday to recapture the atmosphere of a popular pub of yesteryear in the CBD. Purely by chance, two of the entertainers of those days will be in Durban together to strum the night away.

Venue is the La Bella Street Shelter for the Over-40s. Jamming it will be Shaun Potts and Bruce Boom, formerly of the band Bad Habit, that played at the Shunters Arms. The thing is billed as a Shunters reunion.

I wonder if they've invited the Nairobi Nondescripts? These are the Kenyan rugby side who hold the record for the largest beer order ever placed at the Shunters – 100 pints of draught. The foaming tankards took up the entire bar counter and it took the Nondis some time to work their way through.

Later that evening a passing police patrol noticed a group of blokes scrumming against a palm tree outside the Shunters, trying to push it over. They decided this was worth investigating but their inquiries got nowhere as the scrummagers appeared to speak nothing but Swahili. At which the lot of them were bundled into the Black Maria and taken to Point police station.

This posed a problem for the organisers of the Nondis tour. They were due to take the field against Hillcrest next day, yet half the side – including the skipper – were in the clink.

Eventually, after negotiations with the fuzz, they were released and the game went ahead. The party afterwards was memorable.

I do hope the Nondis are there on Friday. Good habits and Bad Habit.


Keep it clean!

A MEMBER of the medical profession sends in some lines on the need to prevent the infection of limericks.

The limerick is furtive and mean,

You must keep her in close quarantine;

Or she slips to the slums

And rapidly becomes

Disorderly, drunk and obscene.


A WOMAN suddenly went into labour at the casino the other night and eventually produced a baby boy, right there on the carpet beside the roulette table, assisted by the croupiers.

It caused great excitement among the punters – and disappointment for those who'd bet on it being a girl.


Last word

Dealing with network executives is like being nibbled to death by ducks.

Eric Sevareid

The Idler Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The doctrine of osmosis

PEOPLE should not look askance at this new law that makes it easier for prisoners to be released on medical parole. It's all part of a development in jurisprudence known as the doctrine of osmosis, where South Africa leads the world.

The idea is that, especially for high profile individuals with an important role to play in society, the boundaries between freedom and being in jail should be blurred. The osmosis between the two should be such that it is actually difficult to tell who is in jail and who is not. Furthermore, it barely matters because they carry on much as before.

As a legal academic put it: "Can society afford to lock away a gifted person with leadership qualities simply because he's fallen foul of the law here and there? Look at Bernie Madoff in the US. Okay, he ran a ponzi racket. But the guy has intellect. Can Wall Street operate properly without his contribution? We're in the 21st century, not the 19th. South Africa is leading the way in the doctrine of osmosis."

Others point out that, with prisoners in South Africa already allowed to vote, the doctrine could eventually be developed to a point where it allows for entire governments to be elected to rule from behind bars.

Don't be queasy – we're at the cutting edge!


Collapse all round

IN HIS LATEST grumpy newsletter, investment analyst Dr James Greener laments the intellectual and ethical collapse of modern society, not least in his own financial sector.

"After the dreadfully violent wars and conflicts that dominate the Middle East regions, perhaps the next most significant events to watch are the US presidential elections and the Eurozone financial fandangles. Neither makes any sense to anyone expecting reasonable, logical and civilised behaviour from erstwhile role models for such things.

"Words and concepts like faith and science and honour and debt and promise and trust are being misused and devalued to the point where they convey no meaning.

"Similarly in one recent but small incident in our industry a big cheese has resigned from a well known investment bank with an open letter that spills the beans on the way things sometimes work in some of those businesses.

"Sadly I can confirm that he is not making that stuff up. Greed scores way above integrity with just enough people for the rest of us in or around this industry to feel embarrassed and uncomfortable when we admit what we do."


Read all about it!

SOME headlines gleaned from the newspapers of the US:

·         Worker suffers leg pain after crane drops 800-pound ball on his head.

·         Bridges help people cross rivers

·         City unsure why the sewer smells

·         Meeting on open meetings is closed

·         Man accused of killing lawyer receives a new attorney

·         Puerto Rican teen named mistress of the universe

·         County to pay $250 000 to advertise lack of funds

·         Meat head resigns

(He was head of the federal agency for meat and poultry inspections)

·         Barbershop singers bring joy to school for deaf

·         Homicide victims rarely talk to police

·         Hospitals resort to hiring doctors

·         Man with 8 DUIs blames drinking problem

             (DUI: Driving under the influence)

·         Nudists fight erection of towers near Wreck Beach

·         Parents keep kids home to protest school closure

·         Police arrest everyone on February 22nd

·         Rally against apathy draws small crowd

·         Starvation can lead to health hazards

·         The bra celebrates a pair of historic milestones this year

·         Total lunar eclipse will be broadcast live on Northwoods Public Radio

·         Miracle cure kills fifth patient

Now read on …

YES, THERE are some beauties in the above selection. One of my favourite headlines ever appeared years ago in the News of the World (recently closed by Rupert Murdoch in the phone-hacking scandal). It was in capitals across two pages: "NUDIST CAMP MANAGER FINDS MODEL WIFE NAKED IN BED WITH CHINESE HYPNOTIST FROM CO-OP BACON FACTORY."


SELF-DEFENCE steps for a woman:

1.       Assume a guarded stance as the male approaches.


2.       Begin discussing commitment: "I love you. We should move in together. Let's have a baby."


3.       Take no further action as male flees in terror.


Last word

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

Yogi Berra

The Idler, Monday, March 19, 2012

Too wildly improbable

YOU COULDN'T make it up. The Leveson inquiry into the values and ethics of the British press hears increasingly embarrassing evidence about the world of the red-top tabloids. Arrests are made in connection with phone-hacking and alleged bribery of figures in the London Metropolitan Police, including Rebekah Brooks, once editor of the Sun and the now defunct News of the World; later chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's News International.

Then it transpires that the Metropolitan Police lent Rebekah one of their horses – a mount named Raisa – for two years.

It further transpires that Prime Minister David Cameron, who is a long-standing friend of Rebekah and her husband, himself on occasion rode Raisa on jolly jaunts in the countryside.

At this point the story would be rejected as a soap opera script because it is too wildly improbable. Satirical magazine Private Eye features it as a review of a film titled Phwoar Horse.

"Tear-jerking new film about the life of police horse Bung, who falls into the hands of cruel, flame-haired Rebekah and is taken into the heart of the circulation war where millions are lost on a daily basis.

"Riding into the fray, Bung endures the mudslinging, the sniping and the appalling battles in an afternoon of carnage.

"Don't miss the popular charge scene where Rebekah is charged following a dawn raid and accused of taking Bung. You will laugh, you will cry with laughter as Phwoar Horse brilliantly recreates the insane decisions of the idiot high command fighting to regain a tiny patch of land from the Daily Mirror.

"In the end poor Bung is lent to dashing Old Etonian Captain Cameron, who promises to look after the horse but instead returns Bung in a shocking condition, cut to pieces and half strangled with red tape, fit only to be sent to the Inspector Knacker's Yard, from where he originally came.

"But in a surprise happy ending Bung leaps over the barbed wire at Wapping and escapes to see out his days giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry."

"* Nominated for 10 convictions and lots of Laftas (That is enough. Ed)

"* The producers would like to assure the public that no celebrities were hurt in the making of this film, though Steve Coogan felt a bit upset (I said that's enough, Ed)"

Lovely stuff!


HAS SPORT been taken over completely by commercial gobbledegook? What used to be rugby unions are now apparently "franchises", as if it were something to do with fast food. Now cricket is not a game but a "brand".

To quote South African captain Graeme Smith, speaking in New Zealand: "We're really trying to focus on maintaining the Proteas brand. Obviously, getting a result is an important part of that. We hope that we can strengthen the brand through our own ability to play well on tour and give the fans something to really be supportive about."

What on earth does Smith mean? Is cricket really a brand like Rice Krispies or Jungle Oats or is it a game where players set out to win, pleasing and entertaining their supporters in the process?

Hear, hear!

MY OLD PAL Tom Dennen lends spirited support to last week's piece about the curmudgeons who would deny ageing Orientals their jollies by preventing perfectly acceptable rhino culling – "they shoot lions, elephants and other pushy species, don't they?"

"Also those who would malign a benevolent government with odious accusations of obfuscation and evasion; hide and seek with piddly things like facts.

"They must all be relegated to the pages of obscurity - let history continue to be written by the winners at the poker table of life!"

Tom says the whiners  are as bad as that Golden Sacks Fulla Money fellow who seems to think honesty in financial matters wasn't already dealt with as far back as the Old Testament. "The ancient curse of usury comes to mind although we are way beyond that with toxic mortgage-backed derivatives and credit default swaps – I'll trade my deadbeats for yours any day!

"Accept the world as it is – take the other guy for all he's worth and to hell with tomorrow!"  



"EYE of potato … ear of corn … head of lettuce …"

It's those vegan witches again.

Last word

I used to work in a fire hydrant factory. You couldn't park anywhere near the place.

Steven Wright


Captain Cook Friday, March 16, 2012

THAT was more like it! Nothing like seeing a good side go up a couple of gears every match. How many tomorrow? That's the big question.

Yes, the old sharkies are still getting it together. There still are areas where we need to tighten up. The line-outs were a lot better against the Lions, but a long way off satisfactory. There's a strange whiff of chloroform that seems to drift across our fellows after they've scored a great try. They lose focus and let the opposition in from the resulting kick-off. Mama mia! Twice! It looked almost as if we were determined not to shove them completely out of the game.

But overall it was excellent, a lot of go-forward. Patrick Lambie had a couple of superb breaks. JP Pietersen is working up a head of steam in his new positioning at centre. Things are beginning to click. Four tries to two says it all. Full points!

I myself watched at King's Park and we celebrated afterwards with customary decorum in the Duikers' Club. I'm told there was riotous behaviour elsewhere, a shooting out of street lights in the vicinity of the Street Shelter for the Over-40s – the well-known celebratory feu de joie. One unconfirmed report has it that not only was the street strewn with broken glass caused by catapults fashioned from the knicker elastic of the ladies, the windows of the office of the headmaster of Durban High School, across the way, also took a few hits.

I find this unlikely, the distance being rather too great – though who knows for sure about the range of Ukrainian knicker elastic.

Great rugby. And absolutely superb rugby in the Six Nations encounter between England and France (where three South Africans were on the field for England). This rerun of Agincourt was an absolute nailbiter, England running in three tries, the French clawing back with penalties and their special brand of running/handling genius; then getting a try when it was just too late. Only two points in it. Oh boy! It doesn't come better than this.

And England will be touring South Africa in a few months. Hmmm.

Meanwhile, the cognoscenti are beginning to rumble about referees. Refs dish out yellow cards, red cards and now white cards, which mean the offender will be automatically cited. Why – given some of the appalling refereeing decisions – should refs not also be cited? Why should the side that believes it has been badly wronged not get the ref to appear before a board of inquiry? In today's game, with so much at stake, why should referees continue to have the "royal game" status they enjoyed in the amateur days? Let them be accountable like the players.

It couldn't affect results, of course. But, as Voltaire said when Admiral Byng was shot by firing squad on his own quarterdeck, the English kill an admiral from time to time, "pour encourager les autres" – to encourage the others.

Queensland Reds tomorrow. Up a gear or two! 'Erewego, 'erewego, 'erewego!

The Idler, Friday, March 16, 2012

A nation of malcontents

PEOPLE must stop making a fuss about National Parks clamming up on information about rhino poaching. These reports in the newspapers only cause public alarm and distress and they encourage the poachers.

Let things be. Let rhino poaching downgrade to the marginal activity it undoubtedly is. Give it a year and everyone will have forgotten about it, everyone will be happy and, in time, people will have forgotten altogether about rhino, what they even looked like.

Be positive! Concentrate on the wonderful things that are happening in our country, not on ugly prehistoric beasts.

But unfortunately our society seems to be full of malcontents. They continually harp on the negative. They carry on as if the Protection of Information Bill is some sort of sinister political gag, not what it quite clearly is: a sunshine measure to promote national happiness and contentment.

No longer will people have to read daily in their newspapers distressing and alarming reports of fraud and corruption in high places; of incompetence and massive waste; of unchecked violent criminality. Even irresponsible suggestions that the country is headed down the drain.

No, instead they will be able to share the enlightened and uplifting thoughts of our political leaders; look at photographs of they and the Gucci elite hobnobbing at social functions, drinking champagne on behalf of the masses. This is the real news.

And back to those disappearing rhino. Don't we owe it to our new partners in Brics to allow them a bit of extra zest in their love lives?



More malcontents

SIMILAR malcontents are causing a fuss about the Ministry of Defence insisting that General Carlo Gagiano, head of the Air Force, should brief parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Defence on the state of the air force, only behind closed doors.

They suggest – irresponsibly and mischievously – that the government are terrified Gen Gagiano might repeat what he said at the recent annual Air Force Parade and Fly-past (where this time there was no fly-past) – that the air force can no longer afford to put aircraft in the air.

They suggest also that Gen Gagiano might be asked his opinion of the recent operation in which two chartered jets "shadowed" President JZ's airliner to New York, at a cost of maningi millions – and the government are terrified of what his plain response might be.

Oh, I don't know. People are surely misinterpreting Gen Gagiano. It's quite possible he was merely putting in a plug for a Gilbert & Sullivan season.

What's that you say? Gilbert & Sullivan wrote in the days before the Wright Brothers, when there wasn't any air force anywhere?

Oh, I don't know. Our air force takes military ranks.

In short in matters vegetable, animal and mineral

I am the very model of a modern major-general …

As Pieter-Dirk Uys says: Adapt Or Fly.

Follies of youth

LOUIS Sarkozy, teenage son of the French President, threw a tomato at a policewoman from the Elysee palace. Splat! The president himself later met her to apologise.

The female gendarme was on the street outside the palace while Louis and some friends were playing in a courtyard.

This quite obviously was a game of dare, and the French are not making too much of it. It's a perfectly natural urge anyway to want to throw a tomato at a policewoman.

In fact I think when Prince Charles was a kid he used to throw his dinner out of the window at the guardsmen at Buckingham Palace. Or am I thinking of Julius Malema and the Presidential Guard outside the Tuynhuis in Cape Town?


No gossip

One nice thing about egotists: they don't talk about other people.


A MECHANICAL engineer, an electrical engineer, a chemical engineer, and a computer geek are driving along in the same car when it breaks down.

Mechanical engineer: "I think a piston rod broke."

Chemical engineer: "The way it sputtered, I think it's not getting enough petrol."

Electrical engineer: "I'm sure there was a sparking. Something's wrong with the electrical system."

They turn to the computer geek: "What do you think?"

Computer geek: "I think we should all get out and then get back in."



Last word

It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. - Jerome K Jerome