Friday, September 26, 2014

The Idler, Friday, September 26, 2014

Hip-hop Grandma calling


YOUNGSTERS around the world have been receiving puzzling Facebook messages wishing them happy birthday, good luck in your exams and that kind of thing from one of the big names in hip-hop.


The hip-hop star in question is known as Grandmaster Flash. As the sender of the post keys in G-R-A-N-D-M-A, Facebook's autoselection function picks it up, completes the signature of "Grandmaster Flash" and sends it off.


Hey, cool dudes! Grandma's in good company.


An example: "To my Griesselmann grandkids going off to college – Travis, Liz, Hunter, Garret. May you all have a wonderful year, choose good friends, great profs, study, study and pray. I'll be praying for you also. Love Grandmaster Flash."


The hip-hop man himself – real name Joseph Saddler – finds the thing hilarious and says he wishes all the kids well anyway.


This world of social media becomes more and more complex. Myself I stick to my trusty cellphone, the one with a little handle which I crank to get the Nkandla exchange and then get put through to Mac Maharaj. No misunderstandings.


Korea pilots?


A FEW months ago we mentioned that former fighter pilot Albie Gotze (SAAF and seconded to the RAF during World War II) had been unable to find any pilot still alive who also flew sorties at the D-Day landings.


The obituary of another veteran fighter pilot, Major Stewart "Bomb" Finney, prompts Dave Thompson, of Umhlali, to ask whether Albie is also the last Korean War pilot still standing?


I wonder. Albie, who eventually retired with the rank of Brigadier-General and now lives somewhere in the Kloof/Hillcrest area, was indeed in the Korean War. Are any of his fellow-pilots still around?


Dream team


PEOPLE have been writing to the papers naming their cricket "dream team" – a theoretical selection spanning the decades.


Gerard Robinson, of Howick, puts together his choice, which he reckons would have beaten any side in the world: Barry Richards, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Graeme Pollock, AB de Villiers (wicketkeeper), Clive Rice (captain), Mike Proctor, Dale Steyn, Vince van der Bijl, Garth le Roux and Alan Donald.


"With seven fast bowlers this side would equal the "shock and awe" factor of the West Indies at their best.


"For ODIs I would include Jonty Rhodes instead of Van der Bijl or Le Roux and touring the Sub-continent one could include Denys Hobson as the spinner and maybe Shaun Pollock, depending on the wicket.


"How scary would this Top XI not be on the old Kingsmead 'mamba'!"


What do the rest of you think?


No kidding


READER Eric Hodgson sends in details on the packaging of one of the freebies distributed by British Airways:


"Almonds and cashew nuts. Salted, dry-roasted. No added oil. Warning: contains nuts."


They don't say!



Great mix

SPONTANEITY was the theme at the St Clements soiree this week as Jerome Pillai – guitar, piano, drums and vocal – teamed up with a range of people who had never rehearsed with him before to produce some astonishingly good stuff, ranging from folk to jazz and rhythm and blues.

Jerome's Starry Starry Night – a tribute to Van Gogh – is always a winner but renderings of Summertime and On A Clear Day with "surprise guest" Shomona, a professional singer, were right up there too.

Also readings by Jean-Marie Spitaels from his book of poetry, Crescent Waves, punctuated by bursts on the harmonica. As the old song goes:

When we were kids on the corner of the street
We were rough and ready guys
But Oh! How we could harmonise …



OVERHEARD in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties: "The word 'phonetically' doesn't even start with an 'f'. It's stuff like this that makes the aliens fly right past us."


Daughter: "Dad, I'm in love with a boy who is far away from me. I am in Australia and he lives in the UK . We met on a dating website, became friends on Facebook, had long chats on What's app. He proposed to me on Skype and now we've had two months of relationship through Viper. Dad, I need your blessings and good wishes."


Father: "Wow! Really! Then get married on Twitter, have fun on Tango, buy your kids on Amazon and pay through PayPal. And if you're fed up with your husband … sell him on e-Bay".



Last word

Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite.

John Kenneth Galbraith

The Idler, Thursday, September 25, 2014

Help – call in Tech Support!


IN THIS digital age we depend absolutely on our programs. We are also utterly dependent on Tech Support. A plaintive little letter comes this way.


"Dear Tech Support,

"Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend to Husband and noticed a distinct slowdown in overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewellery applications, which operated flawlessly under
"In addition, Husband uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as Romance and Personal Attention and then installed undesirable programs such as Cricket, Rugby, Golf and Continuous TV. Conversation no longer runs, and House Cleaning simply crashes the system. I've tried running Nagging to fix these problems, but to no avail.
"What can I do?

"Signed, Desperate."


Dishy dames


LAST week we asked if anyone could identify the two lovelies in a photograph with former Idler Esmond Caro, back in 1966. He had just done the honours in the inauguration of the Ladysmith Show Queen and her Princess. But he couldn't remember their names.


This followed a phase of acrimony between the Idler and Ladysmith, following suggestions by Esmond's predecessor, Jack Shepherd-Smith, that the town had failed to find a winner in a beauty contest; also that a Miss Lucky Legs competition had been won by the billiard table in the Royal Hotel.


And now – Bingo! The Ladysmith Show Queen in 1966 was Pearl Wilson, identified by Megan Caminsky who was at Natal Teachers' Training College with her.


And the Ladysmith Show Princess was – hey, wait for this! – the mother-in-law of reader Nick Goble. Her name in those days was Jenny Lee Aulsebrook.


Dishy dames, the pair of them (to use the permissible argot of 1966).





MORE on Phillip Nel, captain of the 1937 rugby Springboks. Arthur Lishman, of Pennington, says he conducted one of the experiments for his MSc Agriculture thesis on a flock of ewes kindly made available by Nel.


"The research was initiated on his farm at Impendle and the lambing took place at Vetspruit (near Greytown) during March 1964.


"While I was based on his farm he told me that after the First Test in New Zealand (which the Springboks lost) the team told their captain they would NEVER take the field without him again.


"He also described how the forwards discouraged the opposition jumpers in the line-out by grabbing a very delicate part of their anatomy while the jumper was in the air.


"He was a great story-teller and explained to me in great detail how the house at Impendle was visited by the ghost of a deserter from the British forces in the Boer war. This farm manager was paid in gold coins which he buried on the farm. Unfortunately he took ill and died before help could arrive. He was attempting to lead someone to the cache."


Fascinating stuff. But I'm shocked by that line-out business.


Bok panel


MEANWHILE, Freddie Davel, my gallant skipper and long-suffering flyhalf from club rugby days in Maritzburg, tells me the 1937 Springboks were controlled, organised , managed and coached by a panel of five players - Philip Nel (captain), Danie Craven (vice-captain), Lucas Strachan, Boy Louw and Gerry Brand . This included team selection with the captain and vice-captain having casting votes. The panel were also responsible for social events.


Fred got this from former Springbok threequarter Jeremy Nel, with whom he plays bowls. Jeremy turned 80 a week or so ago.





RETIRED architect Dave James reflects in verse on the Nkandla affair.


The architect known as Makhanya

Was employed for a house at Nkandla

His brief from one - Zuma

(Now surprisingly rumour),

Has involved him in terrible slander.


Whatever the outcome may be,

The fiscus will pay - just you see!

And the man who's the boss

Will refuse to bear loss,

And retire in pure luxu-ree.


Hey, a double-limerick!



AN ACCORDION player pulls in at a roadside diner after a gig. He's sipping his coffee when he realises he left his accordion on the back seat of the car, in full view.


He rushes to the car but it's too late – somebody has smashed the window and thrown in two more accordions.


Last word


Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily this is not difficult.

Charlotte Whitton,

The Idler, Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Skinnydipping at Mpenjati


THEY need to think very seriously about these proposals to establish a nudist beach at Mpenjati, on the South Coast.


It's not so much the issue of nudism, or otherwise, it's an issue of good or bad taste and the potential assault on the senses. How can we be sure that the Mpenjati skinnydippers will be of the stature and general appearance that one would want to see in the nude?


And what of the mania these days to adorn oneself with tattoos? Can you imagine anything more ghastly than a beach full of naked bodies, positively writhing with dragons and other bits of the tattooist's art on the more wobbly bits? The mind recoils from the very thought.


Those awful nose rings and tongue studs would no doubt move to other parts of the body for display on a nudist beach. Horrors!


As I say, this needs very careful consideration. The Hibiscus Coast could be about to unleash a monster.




MORE from the latest grumpy newsletter of investment analyst Dr James Greener. He speculates that the reason for the stepping down of Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus after just one term of office could be sheer boredom.

"The 'no change to the repo rate' announcement came after a three-day meeting. It is terrifying to even try to imagine the amount of brain-numbing waffle and data nit-picking that must have taken place in order to fill all that time.

"Three months ago the same team edged the rate up a near imperceptible quarter of a percent, but now whatever demons were spotted then appear to have disappeared.

"Another annoyance in the job might be polite but firm calls late at night from Nkandla or Luthuli House with suggestions of how things should be. The now aborted AngloGold unbundling deal noted that guidance on various matters had been received from the Reserve Bank. And the African Bank debacle must have been very wearying for the governor too. Ms Marcus must hopefully be off to do something far more fun."

Tube race

A LONDON commuter jumped off the Circle Line tube train at Mansion House station, sprinted up the stairs and then hared down to Cannon Street station, one stop away.

There he jumped into the same Circle Line carriage he had just left, to the applause of fellow-commuters.

The dash took James Heptonstall 80 seconds and involved running up or down 75 steps and going through two ticket barriers.

It makes a change from doing the crossword.


A CITY in China has divided a pavement into two lanes – one for people using smartphones. It's a good idea. The Chongqing City authorities want to avoid smartphone-users bumping into other pedestrians as they (the smartphone-users) go about their idiotically obsessed business.

But it didn't work. The smartphone-users were so engrossed in their gadgetry they didn't read the signage setting aside part of the pavement for them and just carried on as before.

The smartphone zombie – this is a challenge of our times.

Pas op!


CAREFUL how you tread. The police at Richards Bay had to detonate a World War II depth charge dropped in Lake Mzingazi by a Catalina flying boat. It became exposed as the water level dropped in the current drought.


The RAF Catalinas were based at Durban, St Lucia and Lake Mzingazi and they conducted long-range patrols against enemy submarines.


At St Lucia a spot on the Eastern Shores is known as Catalina Bay, after one of the flying boats that crashed there but has since been buried in silt. What not everyone realises is that this Catalina crashed with a full payload of depth charges, not one of which has ever detonated.


Would they have rusted away by now into nothingness? The one at Lake Mzingazi hadn't.




A PARSON is walking down the street when he notices a small boy trying to reach a doorbell. He steps up behind him and gives the bell a good, hard ring. Then he crouches to the child's level, smiles and says: "How's that, my little man?"

"Thanks – but now we must run like blazes!"

Last word

When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.

Albert Einstein


Monday, September 22, 2014

The Idler, Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Grace's lightning study


GRACE Mugabe, wife of Zimbabwean President Robert, has been awarded a PhD in sociology by the University of Zimbabwe after two months of study.


Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe is, er, President Robert.


Rob Nicolai, Howick's renowned theoretical physicist, says he's surprised. When he heard Grace had a PhD, he assumed it must be in astrophysics.


"Only her husband's party has caused inflation even remotely similar to the hyper-inflation proposed in the Big Bang theory?


"This is extraordinary as the theory states that the cosmos of empty space had to expand faster than the speed of light and that is against a vital principle of physics. I thought Grace could clarify this conundrum as she got her PhD a mere two months after enrolling, showing that physical limits of space and time cannot restrain her.


"But her husband Bob is the chancellor who awarded her a PhD in sociology so it has to be legit. A PhD in sociology awarded by a sociopath is beyond reproach."


Thabo's library

INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener notes in his latest grumpy newsletter that the excited spokesman for Unisa, which will be home to the Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library, has introduced some new ideas.

"According to him it will become a 'living library' that will address knowledge production and peace building.

"That's a far cry from the collection of dog-eared Marxist tomes, dodgy medical research papers, yellowing newspaper clippings, fading internet print-outs and used pipe cleaners that many of us would have expected to see in a collection of the previous president's archives."


Giant squid

SCIENTISTS in New Zealand are examining a colossal squid, hauled by fishermen to the surface from almost 2km deep in the freezing and remote Ross Sea, in Antarctica.

It weighs 350kg and is the length of a minibus. The scientists believe sightings of such giant squids gave rise to the ancient fables about sea monsters.

On the other hand, have they frisked this one for six-guns? It just could be the legendary Billy the Squid.


OVERHEARD in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties: "When in Rome be an awkward bastard – do as the Belgians do!"

Fall-out starts

MORE news from Scotland. Fall-out from the nationalists' failed referendum begins.

Alex Salmond, leader (for now) of the Scottish National Party, was visiting a Scottish primary school and the class was in the middle of a discussion related to words and their meanings. The teacher asked Mr. Salmond if he would like to lead discussion on the word "tragedy".

So he asked the class for an example of "tragedy".

A little boy stood up: "If ma best freen, wha' lives on a ferm, is playin' in the field and a tractor rins ower him and kills him, that wid be a tragedy."

"Incorrect", said Alex "That would be an accident."

A little girl raised her hand: "If a school bus kerryin' fifty children drove ow'r a cliff, killing a'body inside, that wid be a tragedy"

'I'm afraid not. That's what we would refer to as a great loss''.

The room went silent. No other children volunteered. "Isn't there someone here who can give me an example of a tragedy?"

Finally, at the back of the room a wee lad raised his hand and, in a quiet voice, said: "If a plane kerryin' you and your deputy wiz struck by a 'freendly fire' missile and blawn tae smithereens, that wid be a tragedy."

"Fantastic! And can you tell me why that would be a tragedy?"

"Weel, it has tae be a tragedy, because it certainly widnae be a great loss, and it probably widnae be an accident either!"

Who can blame Salmond for announcing his stepping down?

That tour


READER Geoffrey Bentham, of Westville, points out that on the triumphant 1937 rugby tour the Springboks also beat Australia twice – 9-5 and 26-17 – before going on to their 2-1 series victory in New Zealand.


He confirms that the Boks had no coach in those days. The manager on that tour was PW Day and his assistant was A de Villiers.



CRUISE passenger: "I wish to complain. I went to my cabin and there was a common seaman using my shower."

Purser: "What do you expect in second class? The captain?"


Last word

There's so much comedy on television. Does that cause comedy in the streets?

Dick Cavett

The Idler, Monday, September 22, 2014

A different era


ARE the Brits are going soft? When William Wallace fought for Scotland's independence, they took him to the Tower of London where he was hanged, drawn and quartered, after which his severed head was dunked in a barrel of pitch then left on display at the Tower for a week.


When Alex Salmond tried the same last week, he got a phone call next morning from Downing Street saying: "Bad luck, old chap, you put up a splendid show – no hard feelings."


But, on balance, I think most of us prefer the second option. The 21st century does have its irritations – the take-over of digital software, social media, the celebrity cult and non-stop professional sport – but in many ways we've moved on significantly since the 13th. (If only the Scots nationalists would do the same).


The world held its breath at the spectacle of the United Kingdom coming close to dismantling itself, for no discernible reason.


Lord Snooty is surely to blame. If David Cameron had allowed the Maximum Devolution option on the ballot paper – which Scotland is now going to get anyway – it would have had at least 80% support.




YOU ask if anyone out there can help. You're speaking to the world at large - and then you get a response from just round the corner.


Reader Don Porter asked who coached the 1937 Springboks on their victorious tour of New Zealand? The team photograph shows skipper Phillip Nel and vice-captain Danie Craven sitting with Boy Louw between the manager and assistant manager (who are the only two not in rugby togs).


No coach is mentioned. Don speculates that the captain and vice-captain must have coached the side in those days.


Correct – as far as the captain goes anyway. Springbok big game fisherman Monty English, who lives so close by he could throw beer cans on to the roof of my humble abode, was at Maritzburg College with Phillip Nel's son, Piet. He used to spend school holidays on their farm, Vetspruit, near Greytown.


Monty assures me that Phillip used to coach the side. Also, he didn't play in that first Test in 1937 – the only one the Boks lost.


That explains it then. But why is Boy Louw also sitting in that special spot between the manager and the assistant manager?


He must have been the team statistician. Boy Louw was famous for saying: "Looks at the scoreboard, man!"


You think not?


BOY Louw eventually took up refereeing club rugby. One Saturday afternoon in Cape Town he awarded a rather scrappy-looking try.


The defending skipper protested: "Oom Boy, dis nooit 'n drie!" (Uncle Boy, that's never a try!)


"Dink jy nie so nie? Lees vanaand se Cape Argus." (Don't you think so? Read tonight's Cape Argus.)


Our haka


PHILLIP Nel was a delightful man - big, burly and blond, a truly sunny character, exuding bonhomie.


He played rugby for Natal while still at Maritzburg College. He used to come back to the school at the start of every rugby season to give a pep talk to the boys – all ages, all levels. He lived rugby.


He also once demonstrated a Zulu war dance the Natal side used to perform before the match. Our own haka. I wonder why they ever stopped that?



Amateur days


STILL with rugby, Zoltan de Rosner, of Pennington, blames professionalism for dirty play. Everything is just too intense, he says.


Zoltan played first division club rugby for 13 years.


"Everyone's now in it for the money, whereas we'd play just for the fun of it.


"You took the hard tackles. It was hard and uncompromising but there was always the handshake and a beer together … and friendships that lasted to this day. It's a shame how things have changed."



Old boys' dinner


CALLING all Orient Old Boys … their Association is holding its 47th annual dinner at 6pm on Friday at Solly Manjra's Restaurant in Sea Cow Lake.


Guest speaker will be Dr Faisal Suleman, of the South African Muslim Network.


Contact: Ismail Patel, PO Box 4277 Durban 4000; 072-5437860;




WEIGHT loss hint: When you feel the urge to eat, do it standing naked in front of a mirror. The restaurant will throw you out long before you've swallowed much.


Last word


My grandmother is over eighty and still doesn't need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottle.

Henny Youngman

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Idler, Thursday, September 18, 2014

Message from the future

IT'S September 18, 2024. The setting is John O'Groat's, northernmost tip of mainland Scotland. The pipes sound a lament from the surrounding hills. A kilted tour guide gestures toward the cliff-edge and the freezing North Sea below.

"And here it was that the Greet Kilted Lemming-Rush was held 10 yeers ago the day. 'Twas led by the man they now call Smoked Salmond. 'Twas inspired by Mel Gibson and a Hollywood movie called Braveheart.

"The Sassenachs tried tae stop it. The bankers and the business folk tried tae stop it. The oil folk tried tae stop it. Folk said Scotland would have nae navy nor air force. Nithin tae stop oor fish stocks gettin' poached.

"Folk said we'd have nae poonds. Also nae Euros 'cos the EU disnae take on any mair basket cases. They also said we'd lose oor subsidy frae Westminster, the biggest in Britain per heed.

"But Smoked Salmond wasnae a man tae be deterred by economists and bankers and business people. Freedom is what coonts. Did ye no' see Braveheart?

"Nae poonds, nae Euros, nae dollars. So he went intae a currency union wi' North Korea – the only country tae support Scottish independence – and signed a non-aggression pact wi' them and wi' the separatists in East Ukraine.

"Aye, the Greet Scottish Lemming-Rush, it's done wonders fer the tourism industry. That cliff just there - that's where Salmond led the charge …"



I STILL say the smart money is on the "No" vote in Scotland. The "Yes" people are screeching it from the rooftops. The "Undecideds" – a large block - are canny Scots who will vote "No" but don't like nosy questions.

Yet, as they say south of the border in Yorkshire: "Nowt so queer as folk."


RECENTLY we discussed the way Idlers of yesteryear were in a state of conflict with the town of Ladysmith. It stemmed from a piece written by Jack Shepherd-Smith in which he said they'd held a beauty competition in Ladysmith but nobody won.


The outrage of the siege town was just beginning to simmer down months later when it blew up again with a paragraph saying they'd held a Miss Lucky Legs competition in Ladysmith. It was won by the billiard table in the Royal Hotel.


Another former Idler, Esmond Caro (who took over from Jack), was part of a peace-making process which culminated in his crowning the Ladysmith Show Queen in 1966 (See picture).


He can't remember the gals' names – the Queen and Princess – but they are certainly most yummy. Can any of our Ladysmith readers identify them?


Who coached?


READER Don Porter says the reply to a question posed in our sister newspaper, the Daily News, this week is "almost right."

Question: "Who is the only Springbok coach to beat the All Blacks twice in New Zealand?"

Answer: "Peter de Villiers – Dunedin 2002 and Hamilton 2003."

Except that Philip Nel's 1937 "Invincibles" won the series 2-1 after losing the First Test 7-13 at Athletic Park, Wellington; winning the Second 13-6 at Lancaster Park, Christchurch; and winning the Third 17-6 (five tries to nil - but there were no bonus points then) at Eden Park, Auckland. Those were the days of three points for a try and four for a drop-goal.


But who was the coach? Was there one?


"The touring team photo shows MM Louw, PJ Nel (captain) and DH Craven (vice-captain), seated between the Manager and Assistant Manager (the only two in suits and not in rugby togs).


"I can find no reference to a coach. I think the captain and vice-captain were responsible in those days for any coaching and tactics."


Can anyone out there enlighten us?



A LONDONER is on his deathbed. A nurse, his wife, his daughter and two sons, are with him.

He says: "Bernie, I want you to take the Mayfair houses.

"Sybil, take the apartments over in Pall Mall."

"Arthur, I want you to take the offices over in City Centre.

"Sally, my dear wife, please take all the residential buildings on the Thames."

Then he slips away.


The nurse: "My dear, your husband must have been such a hard-working man to accumulate all that property".

Wife: "Property? He delivered newspapers."

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