Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Idler, Friday, November 28, 2014

Insuring your assets

A PROFESSIONAL tea taster has had his tongue insured for £1 million 

(R17.3m) after five years of intensive training made him a "master blender".

His British employers, Tetley Tea, arranged it. Taster Sebastian Michaelis can 

taste and grade any one of the world's more than 1 500 varieties of tea in just 15 


A tongue and its tastebuds. This is something new. 

Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has insured his legs for £90m. Singer Jennifer 

Lopez has insured her derriere (not her larynx?) for £180m. Rolling Stones 

guitarist Keith Richards has insured his hands for £2m.

Country singer Dolly Parton has insured her cleavage for $600 000 (R8.7 m) – 

badly under-insured if you ask me.

Back in the silent movie days, Charlie Chaplin insured his feet - which gave him 

that funny walk – for £100 000, which was a massive amount back in the 1920s.

Oscar-winning Julia Roberts has insured her beaming smile for £19m. Bruce 

Springsteen has insured his voice for £4m. 

Singer Maria Carey has insured her shapely legs (again, not her larynx!) for a 

staggering $1 billion. James Bond star Daniel Craig has insured his entire body for 

£6m. Reality TV star Joey Essex (can that name be real?) has insured his hair 

for £1m. 

There's quite a range. The tea taster's tongue is considered to be worth double Dolly 

Parton's cleavage – though I would hotly dispute that. And the issue has caused a 

buzz of interest, not least in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties.

Here there are three categories of punter. Those who want to register with the 

breweries as beer tasters and wish to have their tongues and tastebuds insured.

The braggart alleged lovers whose lewd description of their insurable attributes has no 

place here.

And then the fellows who feel their ample bellies and buttocks need insuring. If 

Jennifer Lopez can do it, why not they?

But a contact in the insurance industry says there's no chance. "Those bums are 

uninsurable," he told me.


I CAN vouch for the skills of the tea tasters. In days of yore I had a little to do with 

the Ntingwe tea estate, in Zululand, which produces absolutely top quality stuff that is 

marketed under its own name – no blending – across Europe.

There I encountered a charming Sri Lankan buyer for a British tea company, who had 

played cricket for his country. Also the amiable Sri Lankan manager of the estate. 

These fellows knew their tea.

The manager used to regularly taste what was coming through the factory. One 

morning he took a sip from the cup proffered, spat it out and yelled in real distress: 

"What's gone wrong?"

But it was only a prank. Two of the field officers had bought a packet of tea from the 

local trading store and tried it out on him. It might as well have been kakiebos.


A WOMAN in Melbourne, Australia, was hanging up the washing in her back yard 

when the earth opened up beneath her and she went into a 3m sinkhole, where 

she found herself floating in a pool of water.

She cried out for help, the neighbours heard her and she was rescued by 

firefighters. She was unhurt.

People in the neighbourhood have been asked to stay indoors while engineers 

investigate the collapse.

One line of inquiry: were the Proteas batting anywhere in the vicinity at the time? 

These collapses could be contagious.

Healthy food

HELL hath no fury like a schoolkid forced to eat a healthy lunch. Michelle Obama, 

wife of President Barack, has given her enthusiastic support to a campaign by 

the US Department of Agriculture for more fruits, vegetables and whole grains in 

school lunches.

Now high school pupils are posting pictures on Twitter of their gloopy lunches, 

with the hashtag "ThanksMichelleObama".

One posted a photo of a soupy Spanish rice and an apple. "Had a very 

#healthylunch today. The apple definitely made up for the 'mystery mush'."

They should have tried the school meals in my day. At Maritzburg College the 

cook used to roll the meatballs under his armpit.


"I FINALLY got my husband to stop reading my e-mails."

"How'd you manage that?"

"I renamed the e-mail folder 'Instruction Manuals'."

Last word

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. 

H L Mencken

The Idler, Thursday, November 27, 2014

Rules is rules

A FELLOW set out to rob a downtown Bank of America. He 

walked into a branch and wrote a note reading: "Put all your muny 

in this bag". Then he queued for a teller.

But while standing there he began to worry that somebody might 

have seen him writing the note. He left the queue, walked outside 

and crossed the street to Wells Fargo Bank, where he again joined 

a queue.

When he reached the teller and handed her the stick-up note, she 

surmised from his spelling that he was not the brightest light in 

the harbour. She told him she couldn't accept the note because it 

was written on a Bank of America deposit slip. He would have to 

either rewrite it on a Wells Fargo deposit slip or go back to Bank of 


At which he resignedly said "Okay" and went back to Bank of 

America, where he was arrested a few minutes later, standing 

patiently in the queue.

The judge will no doubt take into account his strict adherence to 

rules and regulations.

The dots

ESKOM is in free-fall. It seems we don't have a postal service any 


And now it also seems the security fence erected for millions at 

taxpayers' expense at JZ's Nkandla private residence is falling 

down and full of gaps.

Do we join the dots?


KEITH Thiele, of Mbango Valley, on the South Coast, was taken 

by last week's report on Benjy the Irish bull who was headed for 

the butcher's block for being gay – he had failed to do his duty 

toward the cows of the herd – but was reprieved at the last minute 

by a public subscription that had him sent to an animal sanctuary 


"Congrats to Benjy. However, I feel he should now change his 

name to 'Clark Gaybull.' Whadya think?"

An excellent idea. From the picture of Benjy that I saw, he has the 

same sauve, distinguished yet inscrutable mien.

Getting there

A TIME fix on John Joseph Murphy who was lighthouse keeper 

at Cape St Lucia for 30 years and whose great-grandson, Mick 

Murphy, is out here on holiday looking for information on him, plus 

to link up with any descendants.

William Davidson, of Mtubatuba, says his father recalls a Mr 

Coward being lighthouse keeper at Cape St Lucia from about the 

1950s, so if John Joseph Murphy was there for 30 years it must 

have been from the 1920s, which is about when the lighthouse 

was built.

John Joseph had four daughters and a son – also John Joseph – 

who returned to England and was Mick's grandfather.

Four daughters – the offspring won't be called Murphy but they 

must surely be around somewhere.


OVERHEARD in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties: "Women 

need to stop looking for guys to sweep them off their feet. 

Sweeping is their job."

Life at sea

EXTRACTS from the log of USS. Constitution ("Old Ironsides"), 

a vessel that sailed from Boston on July 27, 1798, to "destroy and 

harass English shipping".

On board: 475 officers and men; 48 600 gallons fresh water; 7 400 

balls cannon shot; 11 600lb black powder; 79 400 gallons rum.

October 6 – makes Jamaica, takes on 826lb flour and 68 300 

gallons rum. 

November 12 – arrives at Azores; provisions 550lb beef and 64 

300 gallons Portuguese wine.

November 18 – sails for England. 

In ensuing days defeats five British men-of-war, captures and 

scuttles 12 English merchant ships, salvaging only the rum aboard 


January 26 - powder and shot exhausted; makes unarmed night 

raid up the Firth of Clyde,Scotland; landing party captures a whisky 

distillery and transfers 40 000 gallons single malt Scotch on board. 

February 20 – arrives home in Boston with no cannon shot, no 

food, no powder, no rum, no wine, no whisky and 38 600 gallons of 


This is very curious provisioning. Why all that water?


"YOU think about nothing but golf. You don't even remember when we were 


"Of course I do, my dear, it was the day I sank that forty-foot putt." 

Last word

The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a 

torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle, is 

inborn in us. 

Paul Valery

The Idler, Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Things liven up

AIRPORTS are terribly tedious... the standing around peering at information 

boards, the incessant barely audible PA announcements and the gnawing anxiety 

about where the baggage will fetch up.

But in Terminal C at Logan Airport, Boston, Massachusetts, the other day things 

livened up a little. It started in the ladies' loo where a naked man suddenly fell 

through the ceiling, causing some startlement.

Then he rushed out and attacked an 84-year-old man, biting his ear and trying to 

choke him with his own cane.

What would be his next lark? High-kick dancing on the luggage carousel?

But before he could get any further, the Massachusetts state troopers pounced 

and overpowered him. He's to appear in court on charges of attempted murder, 

mayhem, assault and battery, malicious destruction of property and committing a 

lewd and lascivious act.

Astonishing what some people will do to break the tedium of an airport.

In session

NO NAMES, no packdrill but a judge of the old Natal Supreme Court once found his 

own way to break the tedium.

He arrived in Johannesburg on a Sunday from overseas, to find he had a four-hour 

wait for his connecting flight to Durban. In those days the pubs were all closed on a 


Then he remembered that he had in his hand luggage a bottle of the finest French 

cognac, bought the other end in the duty-free shop.

The learned judge found a paper cup and took himself to the gents' where he found 

a chair. He poured himself a decent shot of cognac, topped it up with a dash of water 

from the tap in the handbasin, then settled down in his chair with a newspaper.

A fellow came out of one of the cubicles, washed his hands then, as he passed the 

judge, plonked a R2 coin on the marble surface beside him.

The learned judge touched his forelock in gratitude.

It kept happening. Four hours later the judge left the gents' to catch his flight, warm 

and woozy and jingling quite a bit of cash in his pocket. It beat the hell out of handing 

down appeal judgments, he always said.


THE only airport I've known to totally lack tedium is the internal airport in Lagos. 

Nigeria is a big country so the Lagos internal airport is nothing like Durban's 

Virginia. It handles large aircraft of Airbus dimensions and passenger volumes are in 


The place seethes with commotion, very much like railway stations in India. Vendors 

are everywhere, hawking fruit and other things. Nigerian fatcats in robes and turbans 

sit back at ease having their toenails clipped by urchins.

Then comes the boarding procedure. You buy your ticket but no seats are allocated. 

When the flight opens for boarding, a giant scrum forms at the gates then bursts out 

onto the apron. Gifted sprinters make it up the aircraft steps unmolested, but as the 

mass arrives another scrum forms at the foot of the steps.

This becomes a wrestling match, step by step, as you fight your way up toward the 

cabin. It's quite an ordeal as most of these Nigerians are pretty big fellows.

Then at last you're in – and the plane is two-thirds empty.

No, there's not much airport tedium in Lagos. A fellow could drop naked through the 

ceiling of the ladies' loo and nobody would notice.


OVERHEARD in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties: "You say your wedding 

day was the best of your life? You obviously never had two candy bars fall down 

at once from a vending machine."

Noise abatement

VENICE has banned tourists trundling their wheeled suitcases about its cobbled 

streets. The noise disturbs the peace and quiet, the city authorities say. And as 

Venice gets millions of tourists a year, that's a lot of suitcases and a lot of noise.

From next year they'll have to either carry their suitcases or fit them with 

soundless wheels – rubber, preferably inflated.

Yes, but be fair! What about those gondoliers continually disturbing the peace 

with their arias and their strumming of ukuleles? 


RETIREMENT home dialogue:

"In our 56 years of marriage, Dear, have you ever considered divorce?"

"Divorce? Never! But murder – frequently!"

Last word

A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. 

Sir Winston Churchill

The Idler, Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gezundheit – health tips

NEWS from America: an interview with 101-year-old Hattie Mae MacDonald, of 

Feague, Kentucky:

"Can you give us some health tips for reaching the age of 101?"

"For better digestion I drink beer. In the case of appetite loss I

drink white wine. For low blood pressure I drink red wine. In the case of

high blood pressure I drink scotch. And when I have a cold, I drink


"When do you drink water?"

"I've never been that sick."

Some light

INCREMENTAL progress in finding out about John Joseph Murphy 

who was lighthouse keeper at Cape St Lucia for about 30 years. 

His great-grandson, Mick Murphy, is here on holiday from England 

trying to find anyone who can remember his great-grandfather.

John Joseph had four daughters and a son – also John Joseph – 

who returned to England and was Mick's grandfather.

William Davidson, of Mtubatuba, says his father recalls a Mr 

Coward being lighthouse keeper at Cape St Lucia from about the 

1950s, so if John Joseph Murphy was there for 30 years it must 

have been from the 1920s, which is about when the lighthouse 

was built.

But here the trail runs cold.

  "The children would have gone to school in Durban or 

Pietermaritzburg and in the 1940s children went by train to 

boarding school," says William.

"I did speak to some of the older generation of the district and 

they don't recall any  Murphy children getting on the train at 


Four daughters – the offspring won't be called Murphy but they 

must surely be around somewhere.

The dots

ESKOM is in free-fall. It seems we don't have a postal service any 


And now it also seems the security fence erected for millions at 

taxpayers' expense at JZ's Nkandla private residence is falling 

down and full of gaps.

Do we join the dots?


MORE Dillerisms – from the collected wisdom of American comedienne Phyllis Diller.

I want my children to have all the things I couldn't afford. Then I want to move in with them. 

Any time three New Yorkers get into a cab without an argument, a bank has just been robbed. 

Burt Reynolds once asked me out. I was in his room. 



OVERHEARD at the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties: ""Great sex last night. 

The wife asked what I was doing on the computer. Looking for cheap flights, I 

said. 'I love you!' she said and just pounced on me. It's odd, she's never shown 

an interest in darts before."


A MAN walks out onto Broadway, New York, and catches a taxi just 

going by. He gets in and the cabbie says: "Perfect timing. You're just 

like Brian."

Passenger: "Who?"

Cabbie: "Brian Sullivan. He's a guy who did everything right all the 

time. A bit like my coming along when you needed a cab. Things 

happened like that to Brian Sullivan, every single time."

Passenger: "But there are always a few clouds over everybody."

Cabbie: "Not Brian Sullivan. He was a terrific athlete. He could have 

won the Grand Slam at tennis. He could golf with the pros. He sang 

like an opera baritone and danced like a Broadway star ... and you 

should have heard him play the piano. He was an amazing guy."

Passenger: "Sounds like he was something really special."

Cabbie: "There's more. He had a memory like a computer. He 

remembered everyone's birthday. He knew all about wine, which 

foods to order and which fork to eat them with.

"He could fix anything. Not like me. I change a fuse, and the whole 

street blacks out. But Brian Sullivan, he could do everything right."

Passenger: "Wow! Some guy then."

Cabbie: "He always knew the quickest way to go in traffic and avoid 

traffic jams. Not like me. But Brian, he never made a mistake and he 

really knew how to treat a woman and make her feel good. He would 

never answer her back even if she was in the wrong ... and his 

clothing was always immaculate. He was the perfect man. He never 

made a mistake. No one could ever measure up to Brian Sullivan."

Passenger: "An amazing fellow. How did you meet him?"

Cabbie: "Well, I never actually met Brian. He died. I'm married to his 


Last word

I'm not a real movie star. I've still got the same wife I started out with 

twenty-eight years ago. 

Will Rogers


The Idler, Monday, November 24

March of the barflies

THE fellows at the end of the bar are on the march – in Britain 


These fellows are always worth listening to. They have the 

soundest ideas on the issues of the day – the economy, 

international terrorism, tensions in the Ukraine, anything – and 

what the government and others should be doing about them.

As the evening wears on, their ideas become increasingly brilliant 

– airdrops, special forces, that kind of thing – and eloquently 


Then the fellows at the end of the bar go home, have a good 

night's sleep, go to work and don't think of the issues again until 

they meet up again that evening.

That's how it's always been – until now. Ukip – United Kingdom 

Independence Party – personifies the fellows at the end of the 

bar. TV footage of its leader, Nigel Farage, frequently has him 

hoisting a pint in a bar. He's your quintessential salt of the earth, 

commonsense bloke. Not part of the Westminster bubble or the 

Islington lefty intellectuals.

Ukip's logo is the "£" sign in gold, to a backdrop of Episcopalian 

purple. Some might have thought the UK already pretty 

independent, what with a permanent seat on the UN Security 

Council etc, but Ukip want a breakaway from the European Union.

All this is prime fodder for the fellows at the end of the bar. But 

Ukip has suddenly won two by-elections, taking votes in fine style 

from the Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The fellows 

are now 24/7 as the fashionable saying has it. The fellows are on 

the march – but whither?

Watch this space!

Local attitudes

AND what of our own fellows at the end of the bar? Preliminary 

research at the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties reveals the 


• The Boks need to prune the World Cup squad of geriatrics.

• Shakes Mashaba is absolutely right to ignore the dilettantes 

who are playing overseas.

• The Proteas need to get the itchy-powder out of their 

jockstraps if they're to have a hope in the ODI World Cup.

• Striptease would be an acceptable bar entertainment 

between match screenings – so long as the strippers are not 

recruited from habitue damsels.

• Politics? The parliamentary channel should switch to cage-
fighting – it's more genteel and a lot more intelligent.

Cut and thrust

MORE exchanges from the American courts:

• Attorney: "What was the first thing your husband said to you 

that morning?"

 Witness: "He said: 'Where am I, Cathy?'"

 Attorney: "And why did that upset you?"

 Witness: "My name is Susan."

• Attorney: "What gear were you in at the moment of the 


 Witness: "Gucci Sweats and Reeboks."

• Attorney: "Are you Sexually Active?"

Witness:" No, I just lie there."

• Attorney: "What is your date of birth?

Witness: "July 18th."

 Attorney: "What year?"

Witness: "Every year."

• Attorney: " So the date of conception was August 



Witness: "Yes."

Attorney: "And what were you doing at that time?"

 Witness: "Getting laid."

Benefit gig

LOCAL musos are rallying again to the support of one of their own. 

This time it's legend Steve Fataar (of The Flames, in days of yore) 

who has been in hospital with lung problems.

They're putting on a benefit show on Thursday at LIVE-THE 

VENUE , in Stamford Hill Road, compered by singer/comedian 

Graham Boyle.

Also performing will be The Reals, The Hairy-Legged Lentil-Eaters 

(from Maritzburg), Spider Murch and a somewhat recovered Steve, 

along with his son, Dane.

Tickets are R100 and the doors open at 7pm. Bookings/

information/donations: 083-4534;

Pooh to Winnie

POLITICIANS in the Polish town of Tuszyn are thinking of dropping Winnie the 

Pooh as the theme character of a new children's playground because he goes 

about half-naked and is of "dubious sexuality" – not a good role model.

Yes, I suppose Winnie eventually had to be found out in this respect, not to 

mention his shocking promotion of gluttony – the absolutely endless pursuit of 

honey by any nefarious means. Also, he hangs out with some really strange 

characters – Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo and the Heffalumps. 

He's not a sound example for impressionable kids.

Play it safe – stick with Disney.


Why did the polygamist cross the aisle? 

To get to the other bride.

Last word

Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.

Anthony Burgess

The Idler, Friday, November 21

Talent and wackiness

THE KZNSA Gallery, in Glenwood, is the place to be this 

evening for the launch of BuzzArt 2014, a combination of 

talent and wackiness if I'm able to judge from an exhibit 

I've already had a squint at.

It's a little book by established local artist Andrew Verster, 

illustrated by himself of course and decidedly eccentric in 


Of This And That (Grapefruit Press) is a collection of 

reprised nursery rhymes and pensees, with a distinct 

setting of the Berea. Some snippets:

• "Mary Mary Quite Contrary How does your garden grow?" 

"Now that you ask, not very well actually. Aphids are eating my Hollyhocks. the 

Shasta Daisies have blight and the Zinnias are stunted. Keith Kirsten of Green 

With Envy says its all to do with the melting of the polar ice cap. My Aunt Mary 

says it is the rise of atheism." 

• "I have had an sms from someone I've never heard of called Wanda 

Goldwater from Palermo asking if I am looking for CUSTOMISED 

MOTORCYCLE MATS. If you know of someone who does, I'll give you the 


• "We can land on Mars but we can't get the escalators to work in Musgrave 


Andrew says the stories come out of nowhere and 

everywhere – a chance meeting with a stranger in 

Musgrave Centre, a newspaper paragraph, a few words on 

a placard, a BBC television morning show guest. Jottings 

in his diary and "other people's ideas which I steal and 


Yes, Andrew, I understand exactly what you mean.


Tube talk

SOME Cockney humour – driver announcements made on the 

London Underground:

• "Ladies and gentlemen, I do apologise for the delay to your 

service. I know you're all dying to get home, unless, of 

course, you happen to be married to my ex-wife, in which 

case you'll want to cross over to the Westbound and go in 

the opposite direction."

• "Your delay this evening is caused by the line controller 

suffering from E & B syndrome: not knowing his elbow from 

his backside. I'll let you know any further information as soon 

as I'm given any."

•  "Ladies and gentlemen, we apologise for the delay, but  

there is a security alert at Victoria station and we are 

therefore stuck here for the foreseeable future, so let's take 

our minds off it and pass some time together. All together 

now .... Ten green bottles, hanging on the wall ... "

•  "Beggars are operating on this train. Please do not 

encourage these professional beggars. If you have any 

spare change, please give it to a registered charity. Failing 

that, give it to me."

• In a very hot rush-hour on the Central Line (and this time in a 

West Indian drawl): "Step right this way for the sauna, ladies 

and gentlemen ... unfortunately, towels are not provided."

•  "Please move all baggage away from the doors. (Pause). 

"Please move all belongings away from the doors." (Pause). 

"This is a personal message to the man in the brown suit 

wearing glasses at the rear of the train: Put the pie down, 

Four-Eyes, and move your bloody golf clubs away from the 

door before I come down there and shove them where the 

sun don't shine!"

• "May I remind all passengers that there is strictly no smoking 

allowed on any part of the Underground. However, if you are 

smoking a joint, it's only fair that you pass it round the rest of 

the carriage."

Nkandla again

IAN Gibson, poet laureate of Hillcrest, pens some lines on last week's debacle in parliament..

Our democratic institution called parliament,

Was the scene of loud voices in argument;

But if you look for the cause,

You don't have to pause -

Its all about the Nkandla emolument.


THREE tourists go into a pub in the Scottish highlands. They order a round of whiskies.

"That'll be ninepence."

"Önly ninepence?"

"It's a special, sir. This pub is 200 years old today. We're selling at 1814 prices for the day."

The visitors notice they're the only ones at the bar. A whole lot of locals are sitting on 

benches, watching.

"Why aren't they taking advantage of this amazing offer?"

"They're waitin' for Happy 'Oor."

Last word

What a pity, when Christopher Colombus discovered America, that he ever 

mentioned it. 

Margot Asquith

The Idler, Thursday, November 20

It's Santa Claus

CHRISTMAS starts early in Australia. Police are looking for a man dressed as 

Santa Claus after he robbed a post office.

He entered the post office in the Melbourne suburb of Oak Park, dressed in the 

familiar red Santa outfit and with flowing white beard,

He demanded money from a female teller, jumping up on to the counter to scoop 

it himself into a red Santa sack.

Then he ran outside and made his escape in a cream-coloured jeep.

Ho, ho, ho!

Croc kissing

RECENT discussion of kissing alligators and crocodiles stirs the 

muse in a Hillcrest reader (not Ian Gibson, the poet laureate) who 

wishes to remain anonymous.

A couple on tour for wild life,

Saw two crocs at a murky old pond.

Said the man to his wife,

It is the female of whom I am fond.

I love her sweet smile,

So I'll go closer a while

And plant a good kiss on her.

But his nervous advances kept missing her,

Until, with a snap of his jaw, and a throaty guffaw,

The other whipped the man to the floor.

He then said, with a crafty old smile,

'You must never beguile, us crocs of the Nile,

I assume you are Henry and I thought you were Kissinger.'

Lighthouse keeper

DOES anyone remember John Joseph Murphy who long ago was 

the lighthouse keeper at Cape St Lucia (which is at Mapelane, 

some way south of St Lucia estuary)?

His great-grandson, Mick Murphy, is at St Lucia on holiday right 

now and would very much like to trace any relatives and find out 

more about his great-grand-dad.

John Joseph is believed to have had five children – four girls and a 

boy. The boy – also called John Joseph – was a boilermaker with 

the railways but then went to England and was Mick's grandfather. 

The girls are believed to have stayed in South Africa, and the 

names of any descendants obviously would not be Murphy.

Mick would appreciate any help from readers.


INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener remarks in his latest 

grumpy newsletter that the most poignant remark to be aired 

about the comet landing event last week was a plea to "Jacob and 

Angie" to at least fix the schools so that our children could learn to 


Yes, that gap. Deep space flight dynamics could come later.

"Watching real rocket scientists at work was a deeply emotional 

experience. It was only when prodded by their fussing and anxious 

PR staff that they reluctantly faced the cameras and explained 

to the public - their paymasters - what was happening. Everyone 

was simply anxious to return to work and apply their enormous 

personal skills and expertise to the team effort.

"What a contrast to what is happening elsewhere in the world 

where ignorance, dogma and superstition are being celebrated 

and died for."


SOME of the collected wisdom of American comedienne Phyllis 


• Whatever you may look like, marry a man your own age. 

As your beauty fades, so will his eyesight. 

• Housework can't kill you, but why take a chance? 

• Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is 

like shovelling the walk before it stops snowing. 

• The reason women don't play football is because 11 of them 

would never wear the same outfit in public. 

• Best way to get rid of kitchen odours: Eat out. 

• A bachelor is a guy who never made the same mistake once. 

• The only time I ever enjoyed ironing was the day I 

accidentally poured gin in the steam iron. 

• I admit I have a tremendous sex drive. My boyfriend lives 40 

miles away.


ON HIS way home, he remembers it's his daughter's birthday. He stops off at 

the mall and goes to a toyshop.

"How much is that Barbie in the window?"

"Which Barbie? We have Barbie Goes To The Gym – R39.95; Barbie Goes 

To The Ball – R39.95; Barbie Goes Shopping – R39.95; Barbie Goes To The 

Beach – R39.95; Barbie Goes Nightclubbing – R39.95; and Divorced Barbie – 


"Why Divorced Barbie for R465 when the rest are R39.95?"

"Divorced Barbie comes with Ken's house, Ken's car, Ken's boat, Ken's 

furniture, Ken's best friend ..." 

Last word

Television has raised writing to a new low. 

Samuel Goldwyn

The Idler, Wednesday, November 19

Cops in parliament

IT'S certainly a rum thing, the riot police going into parliament. Who ordered them in? In the days I was 

down there in the press gallery, the police on the premises reported to the Speaker and nobody else.

That was brought home very forcefully one afternoon when a cop – one of those on the parliamentary 

staff - suddenly came into the office I shared with some colleagues and very politely asked if I would 

accompany him to somebody who wanted to interview me.

He took me to an office in the Senate building. There sitting behind a large tape-recorder with a 

bristling moustache was a plainclothes colonel, an absolute caricature of the security policeman, who 

proceeded to fire at me a string of goonish questions about the gruesome murder of Dr Robert Smit in 

Springs, a year or so before.

Smit had been the Nat candidate in an election, having recently returned from a stint at the World Bank, 

in New York. But what was I, a wordsmith from Durban, supposed to know about it? The thing was 

totally bizarre.

The colonel's moustache positively quivered as he fixed me with a beady eye, tapped the tape-recorder 

to emphasise that my words were being taken down and asked: "Is there anyone you suspect of 

murdering Dr Smit?"

I wasn't quick enough to denounce the Receiver of Revenue and the Chairman of the Maize Board. Just 

then the first cop came in again and started whispering urgently to the colonel. He switched off his tape 

recorder and I was told the interview was over.

It turned out that a whole lot of my colleagues had been similarly rounded up at random and were 

being given the same grilling. Word got to the opposition. Colin Eglin rose in the House and asked the 

Speaker and members if they were aware what was going on?

Jimmy Kruger, Minister of Justice, was gobsmacked. He knew nothing about it. The Speaker was 

astonished. The special branch spooks were unceremoniously sent packing. The Receiver of Revenue 

and the Chairman of the Maize Board were safe. What the cops' real mission had been remains a 


Things might have changed today. But back then no copper dared set foot in parliament unless he was 

on the staff and accountable to the Speaker. Questions remain.


THE Speaker back in those days was a man named Jannie Loots. He was retiring and diffident in 

manner and scrupulously impartial, as the Speaker has to be. His two main challenges seemed to be 

keeping tabs on the wicked spur-of-the-moment humour of opposition MP Horace van Rensburg and 

coping with the volcanic rages of prime minister PW Botha.

On one occasion he ordered PW to withdraw an unparliamentary remark. Botha, livid with rage, tried to 

argue, the fraught situation not helped by cries from Van Rensburg (who else?) of "Gooi hom uit! Gooi 

hom uit!"(Chuck him out! Chuck him out!).

Speaker Loots might have been mild in manner but he had iron in his soul. He won that confrontation, 

Botha backed down.

Can anyone imagine it happening again?

The law

SOME gems from the American court records:

• Attorney: "Can you describe the Individual?"

 Witness: "He was about medium height and had a beard."

 Attorney: "Was this a male or a female?"


Witness: "Unless the circus was in town, I'm going with male."

• Attorney: " Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice 

which I sent to your attorney?"

 Witness: "No, this is how I dress when I go to work."

• Attorney: "Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?"

 Witness: "No." 

 Attorney: "Did you check for blood pressure?"

 Witness: "No."

 Attorney: "Did you check for breathing?"

 Witness: "No.

 Attorney: "So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the 


 Witness: "No." 

 Attorney: "How can you be so sure, Doctor?"

 Witness: "Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar."

 Attorney: "I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?"

 WITNESS: "Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practising



FIRST Mayan: "Hey, you wanna drink?" 

Second Mayan: "I'm working on this calendar, but I guess if I don't finish it won't be 

the end of the world."

Last word

Every improvement in communication makes the bore more terrible. 

Frank Moore Colby

The Idler, Tuesday, November 18

That mystery tiger

THERE'S a big flap on in France as gendarmes, firefighters and the army search 

the countryside not far from Paris for a tiger that's been prowling about.

He's been spotted at a petrol station and a supermarket. Somebody managed to 

shoot a picture of him sitting in long grass on a hilltop, and giant paw prints have 

been found. The authorities have told people to stay in their homes.

Oddly though, no local zoo is missing a tiger. Some people say it can't be a tiger, 

but then what kind of big cat is it?

They need to join the dots. What was a tiger doing at a petrol station? Remember 

the old Esso petrol advertising slogan: "Put a tiger in your tank"?

Here's a tiger that got tired of being just on the billboards, he wants the real thing. 

He wants to curl up in somebody's petrol tank. And have his tail waving out at the 

petrol cap, the way it did in the ads..

Giant cat

ALTERNATIVELY, the "tiger" could be a descendant of the cat I once knew, who 

used to work with a poacher in Suffolk, England.

This cat was not a tiger but he did have stripes and was about three times the 

size of a normal cat. My poacher friend used to send him down rabbit burrows to 

fetch them out, which he did with gusto. I've never before nor since seen a cat 

like him.

Swimming the English Channel would have been no problem for him or one of his 


Old Mouldy

ANOTHER missive from the southern Drakensberg. It comes from a fellow 

named Mouldy Moulder, who is Old Bill of the Boot and Saddle MOTH 

Shellhole in Underberg/Himeville.

Mouldy gently points out that last week's Remembrance Day activities about 

the world marked 100 years after the outbreak of World War, not – as I 

implied with my 11th

which was only four years later.

Mouldy is quite right, of course, though it's a bit confusing when they mark 

100 years since the start with the armistice that ended the thing.

He must have been in some clued-up unit like the artillery, where they actually 

use maths and trigonometrey. Not like we matelots who don't calculate much 

beyond the next rum ration.

"Stay well, be happy and have fun!" says Mouldy.

I'll try, but it's a lot easier when you're living in Underberg/Himeville.

 hour of the 11th

 day of the 11th month stuff - its closure, 


A BLAST from the past. Forty-four years ago I was working in 

England for a newspaper group called South Essex Recorders. 

A colleague returns from a holiday there with a copy of the Ilford 


It's still a neat tabloid, 64 pages (though we used to regularly hit 

96). Familiar names leap out at you – Cranbrook Park, the county 

cricket ground; the White Hart pub in Chigwell Road; the Hammers 

(West Ham Football Club) ... Nostalgia can be acute.

But the paper is more sedate than it was. It's missing the 

contributions of Wee Willie Shannon, my colleague and digsmate, 

who used to enliven it with accounts such as of the night in a pub 

called the British Queen when two fellows seized some ancient 

swords off the wall and fought a full-on duel, standing on the table 


That was his style. Wee Willie's colourful, offbeat pieces often 

used to end up in the Fleet Street papers as well. But his personal 

escapades went unrecorded.

When he bought new socks and underwear, it was a ceremonial 

occasion. He would strip on the platform of Seven Kings railway 

station, effect the changes and cast the old garments on to the 

railway track with a ringing declamation. He was a noted poet.

Wee Willie went off to his native Scotland and was last heard of 

living on a croft (a very small farm) and writing copious poetry. I 

wonder if he's still around? The Recorder needs him - so they can 

get back to 96 pages..


IT'S a swish date. He takes her to the best Italian restaurant. He orders a superb bottle 

of wine. They study the menu.

He says to the waiter: "We'll have the Giuseppe Spomdalucci."

Sorry, signor. Data da name of da owner." 

Last word

I am a kind of paranoid in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to 

make me happy.

J D Salinger

The Idler, Monday, November 17, 2014

Portents from Twickers

THE sublime moment at Twickenham on Saturday was surely when 

Patrick Lambie chipped a perfectly weighted kick and Willie le Roux 

gathered on the full to hare downfield and offload to Cobus Reinach 

for an absolute scorcher of a try.

There we had the winning formula for next year's World Cup. 

Possibly the individuals too.

What a cracker of a Test this was. And what a dream debut for the 

new halfback pairing, Lambie's drop goal near the end the cherry on 

the top.

And look at the other results. Scotland gave the All Blacks a huge 

skrik. France drilled Australia. Our game could have gone either way. 

The northern nations on the up and up. England will be the place to 

be next year. This World Cup promises to be a totally unpredictable 



DOWN the other end of the bar at the Street Shelter for the Over-
Forties, folk were huddled round another TV screen. Hey, Jabulani! 

Bafana took it 2-1.

Then down in Oz, South Africa won the ODI.

That's a threesome of success. They might even pass a motion of 

congratulation down at parliament – just as soon as they can get 

together enough pairs of boxing gloves.


ANOTHER side of rugby. I'm sometimes unfairly accused of writing 

too much about Maritzburg College. Well, here's a story from a 

Kearseny boy.

I'm frequently fed snippets of information (most of them unprintable) 

by an 80-year-old who calls himself Barrie ("with an 'ie'") who played 

rugby for Highbury, Kearseny and Berea Rovers, In fact he once 

scored the winning try for Rovers in the Under-19 championship.

Later in life he befriended Keith Oxlee, the great Natal and Springbok 

flyhalf. He often watched Butch James, also a great provincial and 

Springbok flyhalf, on the rugby field but had never met him in person.

Then the other day he encountered Butch in the parking lot outside 

the shops at Mount Edgecombe. He introduced himself.

"What a charming, delightful fellow. He seemed genuinely interested 

in talking to a silly old geezer like me. Now I can say I've known two 

great flyhalves produced by Maritzburg College, great gentlemen 


Barrie the Kearsney boy said it – not me!

Colleen power

BRIAN Kennedy brings us the information that in his native Ireland, 

the Minister of Justice, the Attorney-General, the Chief Justice, the 

Chairperson of the Police Authority, Commissioner of Police, the 

Chief State Pathologist and the Director of Public Prosecutions - are 

all of them women.

""Have men got any chance at all?" he asks

It would appear not, Brian. What's left for the men? Chief State Vet? 

OC Refuse Removal?

And this can also be viewed, of course, as a monstrous conspiracy 

against Ireland's timeless tradition of the lads gettin' together of 

an evening for pints of Guinness and a bit of boisterousness and 

song, which so often spills out into the streets and spreads through 


The bench, the prosecution, the police – all controlled by the 

Colleens. It sends a shiver up de spine, begorrah!


MENTION last week of the fellow in Florida who's been arrested 

for kissing alligators reminds Marthya Kitching of one her late 

dad's favourite Van der Merwe jokes.

Van applies to join a very exclusive hunt club on the Zululand 

coast. At the bar he is told of the tough initiation procedure.

 "First you must swallow a litre of cane spirit; second you must 

kiss the prettiest girl in the village; and finally you must shoot a 


"Nothing to it," says Van, reaching for a bottle of cane spirit and 

downing it in one mighty gulp. Then he lurches off to tackle his 

second task. An hour later he staggers in, bruised and battered. 

His face is scratched and bleeding, and his clothes are torn to 

shreds. "Quick, give me a drink!" he gasps. "Then show me this 

woman I've got to shoot."

"My Dad had three joke books on Van. I love them!"


OVERHEARD in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties: "I've been 

in love with the same woman for 49 years. If my wife finds 

out, she'll kill me!"


Army lieutenant: "I didn't see you at camouflage training this 

morning, Murphy."

Private Murphy: "Tank you, sorr!"

Last word

Television – a medium. So called because it is neither rare nor well done. 

Ernie Kovacs

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Idler, Friday, November 14, 2014

Don't be fooled

THEY'RE fooling us again – is there no end to this conspiracy? 

It began with Nasa putting out pictures of bleak, grassless rocky 

expanses, purportedly the surface of Mars.

Now the European Space Agency are in on the act. The Rosetta 

satellite has supposedly landed an exploration craft - named 

Philae - on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, 510 million km 

from Earth.

The familiar images are there – a rugged, potholed mass of 

nothingness, which they this time tell us consists of ice and dust.

The dust is genuine enough but, as anyone can see, this is no 

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, 510 million km from Earth.

It's the Griquas rugby field, a few km outside Kimberley. Anyone 

can recognise it.

It's outrageous the way these space agencies are putting out hoax 

material so that naïve governments will contribute to their budgets. 

Some people are just too gullible for words.


Big chance

THE sacred turf of Twickers ... here's the big chance for Patrick Lambie and Cobus 

Reinach. There's so much at stake.

Not just beating England – who are formidable – but the future pattern of Bok rugby. 

It would be tragic if our newly adopted ball-in-hand running rugby should implode.

What went wrong last weekend? It's difficult to say. Maybe the Irish secret service 

put itchy-powder in their jockstraps. Maybe the Irish Rugby Union took them on a 

tour of the Guinness brewery the day before.

But if there's any pairing to pull the chestnuts out of the fire, it's Lambie and Reinach. 

Such pace, such verve.

Go boys, go!

Phantom maul

MEANWHILE Rob Haswell, former city manager of Maritzburg, asks if we've heard 

the latest one from Dublin.

"How many Irishmen does it take to stop a Bok rolling maul? Answer: NONE!"

Yes, a curiously effective tactic. But I wonder how many other refs would have 

allowed it.

Airport stats

STATISTICS come in, resulting from the full body scans that have 

been instituted as a security measure at airports.

Terrorists discovered – 0; transvestites – 133; hernias – 1 485; 

haemorrhoid cases – 3 172; enlarged prostates – 8 249; breast 

implants – 59 350; natural blondes – 3.

Surprise discovery: politicians lack cojones.


OVERHEARD in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties: "My wife 

was at the beauty salon for two hours. That was only for the

estimate. She got a mudpack and looked great for two days. Then 

the mud fell off."

Haunted store?

STAFF in a department store in the US began to think the place was haunted. 

They kept hearing somebody calling for help. But when police came to Marshalls, 

in Longmont, near Denver, Colorado, they could find nothing.

The calls continued. Firefighters used a circular saw to cut through a wall. They 

found a fellow stuck there in a gap between the shop's interior wall and an 

exterior one. He had fallen off the roof over the weekend.

They took him off to hospital with a broken ankle. But his problems aren't over. 

The cops think he was trying to burgle the place.

They can certainly get him on breaking and entering.

Tim Condon

IT'S sad to learn that Tim Condon, one of the great movers and 

shakers in this province in wildlife conservation and campaigning 

against pollution, has died aged 79.

Tim was on hand as an agitator whenever there was any kind of 

threat to our natural heritage, and was not beyond doing things like 

dumping rotting fish at the factory gates of pollution culprits. He got 

up plenty of people's noses but he refused to sit back.

He moved to Canada about 15 years ago, for family reasons, but 

never did forget KZN and its natural heritage. The digital revolution 

provided another avenue and he campaigned tirelessly on the 

internet from Canada on behalf of the Zululand reserves, the rhino 

and conservation generally.

He began in an era where conservation and protection of the 

environment were considered in many influential circles to be 

bizarre, sentimental fixations, a blockage on progress. He saw the 

tide turn, and no doubt gained some satisfaction from it. But he 

also knew the struggle was far from over.


TEACHER: "Now, class, I'm going to test your vocabulary. Suzie, 

there's a word for a person who takes a man's wallet out of his 

pocket without him knowing. What is it?"

Suzie: "Wife?"

Last word

Research is the process of going up alleys to see if they are blind. 

Marston Bates

The Idler, Thursday, November 13, 2014

It's the new chit-chat

ARE you finding cocktail party chit-chat a little hackneyed and pedestirian? Here's the chance to 

take 'ém by storm as the Christmas party season approaches, with some wonderfully oungent and 

expressive Anglo-Saxon words that have fallen into disuse.

They are supplied by reader Eric Hodgson, taken from Wright's English Dialect Dictionary, John 

Jamieson's Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language, Francis Grose's Glossary of Provincial 

and Local Words Used In England and John Ray's Collection of South and East-Country words. Here 


• Aptycock - A quick-witted young man.

• Bang-a-bonk – Not what it might seem. It means to sit lazily on a riverbank. 

• Bauchle – An old, worn-out shoe.

• Climb-tack - A cat that likes to walk along high shelves;

• Clomph – To walk in shoes too large.

• Crambo-clink – Poor poetry, pointless conversation

• Crinkie-winkie – Also not what it might seem,. A groundless misgiving.

• Crum-a-grackle - An awkward situation. 

• Crumpsy – Short-tempered, irritable.

• Cuddle-me-buff – Again, not what it might seem. It means beer.

• Culf – Loose feathers from a cushion.

• Cureckitycoo - To flirt and canoodle.

• Dauncy – Unwell..

• Doup-scud – A heavy fall on the buttocks.

• Eedle-doddle – A person who shows no initiative in a crisis.

• Fauchle – Fumble tiredly.

• Flench – The weather looks as it it will improve, then doesn't. It flenches; 

• Floby-mobly – Not feeling at your best..

• Hansper – Pain and stiffness felt in the legs after a long walk. 

• Inisitijitty – A worthless, ridiculous-looking person.

• Jeddarty-jiddarty – Tangled..

• Lenniochmore – A larger than average baby. 

• Limpsey – Limp and flaccid.

• Mundle – Be clumsy.

• Nawpy – A new pen..

• Nipperkin – A small gulp of liquor.

• Omperlodge – To disagree.

• Outspeckle – a laughing-stock.

• Paddy-noddy – A long and tedious story..

• Parwhobble – To monopolise a conversation.

• Peg-puff – An old-fashioned young woman.

• Polrumptious – Raucous, rude.

• Quaaltagh – The first person you see after you leave your house.

• Razzle – To cook something to burn on the ouitside but be raw inside.

• Shackbaggerly – Untidy, loose, disorderly.

• Shivviness – The discomfort of wearing new underwear.

• Sillerless – Broke.

• Slitherum – Slow-moving dawdler.

• Sliving – Thin slice of bread or meat.

• Slochet – To walk with your shoelaces untied.

• Spinkie-den – A woodland clearing full of flowers. 

• Tewly-stomached – Overly sensitive, delicate.

• Titty-toit – Er, not what might appear. To tidy up.

• Unchancy – Not to be meddled with.

• Vargyle – To work in a messy, untidy way,

• Vartiwell - The little metal loop that the latch of a gate hooks 


• Weather-mouth – A bright, sunny patch of sky.

• Yawmagorp – a lounger or – I can't believe this – an Idler!!!

• Zwodder – A drowsy, stupid state of body or mind.

There, you've got the new vocabulary – now let's produce the sparkling chit-chat.

My dear, did you ever see anything so crumpy as Baleka Mbete ... shackbaggerly, that's parliament 

these days ... polrumptious, that's the only way to describe that lennochmore in the red overalls and 

gumboots ... yes, thank you, I'll take a nipperkin, I need it after enduring that paddy-noddy from Mac 

Maharaj ... Time to get zwodder ... The economy? Jeddarty-jiddarty, old boy, run by a bunch of eedle-
doddles,. if we're not careful we'll doup-scud ... I wish JZ would stop clomphing about ... JP Duminy? 

An apscock if ever I saw one, but we need some titty-toit in the field ... The Ireland game? What an 

outspeckle ... Bang-a-bonk? I wish, I wish ... Did you read that limpsey stuff in the Yawmagorp's 


And so it goes, cocktail chatter reinvigorated by plain Anglo-Saxon.


Jock and Jimmy are walking along a street in London. A shop window has a 

sign: "Suits £5 – shirts £2 – trousers £2.50 a pair."

Jock: "Can ye believe this bargain? Let's buy 'em all up.''

Jimmy""Well resell in Glasgie an' mak a fortune!"

Jock: "Let me do the talkin'. I'll put on me Sassenach accent, itherwise they'll 

screw us."

They go inside.

"Hello, my good man. I'll take 50 suits at £5, 100 shirts at £2 and 50 pairs 

of trousers at £2.50. I'll back up my truck to load them - old chap!"

Shop assistant: "How are things in Scotland?"

"Er, fine. How did you guess?""

"This is a dry-cleaner's" 

Last word

Imagination is more important than knowledge. 

Albert Einstein


The Idler, Wednesday, November 13, 2014

See ya later ...

A FLORIDA man has been arrested for kissing alligators. Hal Kreitman, of Miami 

Beach, in the US, is to appear in court later this month.

Kreitman, who calls himself an ""alligator whisperer", takes groups into the 

Everglades to watch his kissing and cuddling with the 'gators. " As an intuitive and 

spiritual person, I've always had a natural affinity with animals," he says.

But the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says Kreitman's 

actions are dangerous. Some of the alligators he has befriended might have 

to be killed because they have lost their natural fear of humans. Meanwhile, 

he faces a felony charge of enticing and capturing an alligator.

Do we have any parallels here? I've yet to hear of anyone kissing or cuddling 

a crocodile, though some of the damsels I've noticed my acquaintances 

whispering to and cosying up to at the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties are 

pretty damned close.


YOU beat the Aussies, you beat the All Blacks and then you go 

down to the Irish. But if last weekend's rugby proved anything, it 

was surely that next year's World Cup in England is going to be a 


All Blacks v England – so close. Aussies v Wales – so close. Boks 

v Ireland – they drilled us, but you've got to allow for constipation. 

The northern nations are right up there with us. Let's see how it 

shakes out this weekend. It's an exciting build-up.

Guinness runs out

MEANWHILE, Ian Gibson, poet laureate of Hillcrest, gets it into verse:

The Boks gave a dismal display,

Allowing Ireland to blow them away;

Poor play by scrum-half,

And the centres a laugh!

No wonder Dublin ran out of Guinness that day.

Irish texting

PAUL McIlroy, of the Blarney Brothers, sends in this Irish text 

message: "Mary, I'm just having one more pint with the lads. If I'm 

not home in 20 minutes read this message again".


MORE from the latest grumpy newsletter of investment analyst Dr 

James Greener, this time on the dynamics of investment.

"A typical example of how socialists fail to understand what 

investing is about appeared in a report prepared by three 

parliamentary researchers. After surveying cases of Foreign Direct 

Investment world-wide, they reached the indignant conclusion that 

the money foreign companies invested can be overtaken by the 

remittances they send abroad.

"That, dear researchers, is the point! When you invest, as opposed 

to donate, you expect not only one day to get your money back but 

also to get a return on that money. 

"Frankly, the foreign firms are not that interested in politically 

correct stuff like job creation and skills transfer unless they can see 

how it could make them more profitable. 

"There is nothing wrong with this attitude. After all it creates 

economic activities that were not there before and, guess what the 

result is? Employment and taxes happen, and all that remains for 

you, the government, to do is to stamp their passports and get out 

of the way."

Cartoon caught it

IT'S nice to encounter a satisfied reader. Clive Phelps raves about last Friday's Dov Fedler cartoon, 

which had armed township criminals chasing two overweight cops, still clutching their tuck – a hot dog 

and a bag of chips.

*Cartoonists don't get the recognition they deserve," he says.*

"This send-up had the extra merit of being placed on the page opposite a challenging feature article 

by Mary de Haas headed "The trouble with the police" - to complete the message. 

*Another brilliant piece of journalism. Thank you!"

Yes, Fedler is always on the button. Mary de Haas knows her onions. The rest, as you say, Clive, we 

can put down to sheers brilliance on the part of our news selection and design team.

Spare our blushes!


RED Adair, the famous Texan firefighter from the oilfields, walks into a Dublin pub.

Paddy: "Dat's Red Adair."

Seamus: "Dat's never Red Adair."

Paddy: "'Tis indeed and I'll bet yez a pint of Guinness." He walks across to the 

newcomer. ""You're Red Adair, not so?"

"Sure, I'm Red Adair".

Seamus rushes across with outstretched hand. Änd sure, we'z honoured to meet ya! 

How's Ginger Rogers?"

Last word

You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. 

Mark Twain

Eleven, eleven, eleven …


THE eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month … as the Middle East explodes in violence and Russia sends troops into the Ukraine to support its nationals there, leaders the world over meet to mark the end, 100 years ago, of the war to end all wars.


Reader Ken Tilly sends in a poem he discovered recently as a newspaper cutting from the Mercury, published in the days when "the late John Vigor was the incumbent Idler."


It's from World War II (also remembered today) and commemorates South Africans' role in the Battle of El Alamein. It is written by a Canadian, E Ann Rayn, and first appeared in the Toronto Star in August 1943.



This is the road the warriors took and gave to it their name.

Christened it with their blood and everlasting fame.

This is the place of screaming planes and the hell of guns and tanks.

Where the boys of the South came gaily up to die in their serried ranks.

And not for the Empire did they die, but for something greater still:

For the right of man to plan his life and work his own good will.

They died that other men might live and little children sing.

When the winter of oppression's gone and the world blooms forth in spring.


And some lay down in sandy graves and some 'neath bush and tree.

And bright blue waters wash the limbs of those who died at sea.

And for ever after the war is done and the world goes on it's way,

We shall remember the lads who died for truth today.


Where red geranium hedges beside some Cape Town lane,

Where sudden thunders growl their way across the Transvaal plain,

Where the arum lily spreads her satin wedding dress of white,

And lithe wild creatures steal to drink beside some pool at night,

Where great Rhodes sleeps his endless sleep upon his rocky hill,

We shall remember them, indeed with hearts both proud and still.

We shall speak a thousand times a day of those who bore the load.

And paved the way for the last great fight and are named in the Springbok Road.


As long as commerce goes her way and free men sail the sea. As long as there are coloured flags to dip in the morning breeze,

As long there'll be the Springbok Road across the barren plain,

And the ghosts of heroes walk the way that leads to Alamein.


One thinks, in the context, of the lines of Uys Krige:


En Fort Wajir le ver, le ver,

Onderkant die awendster …


(And Fort Wajir lies far, lies far,

Underneath the Evening Star …)


Fort Wajir is, of course, Krige's  symbol of peace.



Still around


A CHEERY footnote to the above – "the late John Vigor" is still very much with us, though plying his craft these days from a place called Bellingham, which is a harbour town on the Pacific coast of America, just beneath the Canadian border. I hear from him now and again.




DONOUGH McGillycuddy, of Himeville, who entertained us last week with some thoughts on kissing, follows up on the theme with lines by Dorothy Gurney that he says are carved into a stone wall at West Woodhay House, Berkshire, England.


The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth.
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

Yep, that's as true of Himeville as it is of Berkshire.




A GERMAN civilian finds himself sitting with Swiss soldiers in a café in Basel during World War I. He asks the Swiss sitting opposite:  "Vould you fire on ze Germans if zey came to Switzerland?"


"Vaiter! A glass uff beer for zis brave soldier! And your kamerades at ze next table?  Vould zey fire on ze Germans?"

"Non, monsieur. Zey would no more fire on ze Germans zan I would."

"Excellent! Vaiter, glasses uff beer for all zese soldiers. Tell me, dear friend, are all Swiss soldiers as good friends uff ze Germans as you are?

"Ah. I cannot say. "

"But tell me vhy you personally vould not fire on ze Germans."

"Because I'm in ze band."



Last word


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"If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war."
Leo Tolstoy



Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Idler, Monday, November 10, 2014

Strippers: our right to know

HUGE legal/constitutional issues are suddenly at stake in the American state of 


In that state, strip-tease dancers pay a $75 (R825) a year licence fee. A Tacoma 

man named David van Vleet went to court to obtain information, under Washington's 

open records policy, about 70 licensed strippers in the town so that he could "pray for 


The county auditor granted his request. But two days later a county judge issued a 

temporary order blocking the release, with a final decision scheduled for next month.

Feelings are running high. Van Vleet says the judge silenced the rights of seven 

million people in the state of Washington "to protect 70 people's so-called right to 

privacy, who dance on a stage naked".

Elizabeth Nolan Brown, editor of Reason magazine, reponds: "It's entirely likely the 

person who wants this information is a crazy stalker or an anti-sex nutjob. Maybe 

both. Maybe a blackmailer."

She points to a case last year where another Tacoma man who had been arrested 

for stalking, and convicted of imitating a judge, tried to use the same public record 

laws to get contact information on strippers.

Oops, sorry, I misread that. He was convicted of "intimidating" a judge, not imitating 

him. I'm getting caught up in these intricacies of American law.

The case is being studied closely in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties for 

precedent and possible local application.

Voter switch?

INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener tells us in his latest grumpy newsletter that a truly alarming 

flier was delivered to his home recently.

"Under the banner 'You Deserve Better', three local political activists quote a quite terrible national crime 

statistic and urge the Durban municipality to do something about it. 

"Quite right too. We do deserve better. The puzzle is that the flyer is published by the present ruling 

party. Are they suggesting it's time to vote for someone else?"

Brit snippets

SOME snippets from the British newspapers:

• Commenting on a complaint from a Mr Arthur Purdey about a large gas bill, a spokesman for 

North West Gas said: "We agree it was rather high for the time of year. It's possible Mr Purdey 

has been charged for the gas used up during the explosion that destroyed his house." ( Daily 


• Police reveal that a woman arrested for shoplifting had a whole salami in her underwear. 

When asked why, she said it was because she was missing her Italian boyfriend. (Manchester 

Evening News)

• Irish police are being handicapped in a search for a stolen van, because they cannot issue a 

description. It's a Special Branch vehicle and they don't want the public to know what it looks 

like. (The Guardian)

• At the height of the gale, the harbour master radioed a coastguard and asked him to estimate 

the wind speed. He replied he was sorry, but he didn't have a gauge. However, if it was any 

help, the wind had just blown his Land Rover off the cliff. ( Aberdeen Evening Express)

• Mrs Irene Graham of Thorpe Avenue , Boscombe, delighted the audience with her 

reminiscence of the German prisoner of war who was sent each week to do her garden. He 

was repatriated at the end of 1945, she recalled – "He'd always seemed a nice friendly chap, 

but when the crocuses came up in the middle of our lawn in February 1946, they spelt out 'Heil 

Hitler'.'' ( Bournemouth Evening Echo)


DON Parry says he agrees entirely with correspondent Chris 

Taylor about the folly of bowling round the wicket to left-handers – 

as happened in the Dolphins-Lions match where we were soundly 


"The tactic of bowling round the wicket to left-handers cost the 

Dolphins the match. It's like feeding strawberries to a donkey.

"Left-handers thrive on balls bowled across them, particularly when 

they're pitched half way up the wicket, and a replay will show how 

many were clubbed to the leg side boundary.

"The tactic also contributed to the number of wides - 10 as opposed to the 

Lions' two. The Dolphins should ditch this tactic now."


"ANOTHER scotch, please."

"Sir, I think you've had enough."

"Shut up! You sound just like my wife." 

"She also thinks you drink too much, sir?"

"No, she's also got an awful, squeaky voice."

Last word

Charm is the quality in others that makes us more satisfied with ourselves.