Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Idler, W#ednesday, AQpril 8

The Idler, Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Kokstad rugby conundrum

SEVERAL readers have questioned last week's team photograph of the Kokstad Rugby Club in 1908 .

Dave Thompson, of Umhlali, notes that the photograph features a football.

"Why did they play with a football? Another story from the 'Wild West'?"

My old colleague Des Cooney notes that only 11 were wearing kit. Äre you sure it's not their soccer 


Chris Krause says the photo looks suspiciously like a soccer team. "But I suppose they weren't fussy in 

Kokstad in those days!"

Then Don Porter (a pernickety fellow-member of the Natal Cricket Society and an austere lunch club to 

which I belong) expresses himself thus:

"Your photo of the Kokstad Rugby Club team of 1908 shows a round (not

oval) ball and 11 men in playing kit (one of whom has a different shirt and is

bigger than the others and must be the goalie) plus four four older men wearing jackets and

ties, as would befit the club officials."

Well spotted, gentlemen, but there's an explanation. No, it's not that the Kokstad Rugby Club of 1908 

were traditionalists who played with the same type of ball – a football – as William Webb-Ellis picked up 

and ran away with at Rugby School all those years ago, to launch the game of rugby.

It's rather more prosaic. In Kokstad in those days they played rugby with a watermelon. In the 

photograph what appears to be a football is in fact a watermelon, bows-on.

In Kokstad in those early days you had to earn your rugby colours and kit. The gentlemen in jackets and 

ties were novices who had not yet earned their colours and kit. They had to strip down and play in their 

underpants, which in those days were made of sturdy corduroy.

Come to Kokstad this weekend and watch the Sharks play the Cheetahs in the Vodacom Cup. To mark 

Kokstad Rugby Club's 125th

Will they strip to their underpants? Not on the field –that happens only afterwards in the pub.

Rugby debacle

HISTORY was made at King's Park last Saturday. For the first time the rugby on display was worse than 

the cacophonous "music" with which we were bombarded.

Has anyone ever seen anything like it? This wasn't just a bad day at the office, it was a day nobody 

pitched up.

Those inept attempts to pick up rolling ball in our own 22. Those calamitous line-outs. Those missed 

tackles. That line-out where we allowed a Crusader to burst through, run 25m and score. Mama mia! We 

babo! Is there any recovery from this?

The punters in the Duikers'Club afterwards were unanimous. Not in decades of provincial rugby had 

there been a humiliation like this.

It's a good thing this is the professional era where primordial loyalties are not quite as strong as they 

once were. If Natal had ever taken a hiding like this, I'd have become emotional.

 anniversary, they'll be playing with a watermelon..

Fat ants

UNK food is getting out of hand. Scientists in New York have discovered that 

pavement ants are eating the same junk food as their human counterparts – 

hamburgers, chips, sugary drinks – meaning we can look forward to an epoch of 

grossly obese ants.

Tests were performed on ants collected from pavements and traffic islands 

in Manhattan . Their bodies contained the molecular fingerprint of junk food, 

according to research conducted in North Carolina State University.

The same was not true of more genteel ants that frequent leafy park areas.

Several researchers from North Carolina State University have gone missing. A 

few have been found in lunatic asylums, and the university is trying to trace the 

rest who are still caught upo inb the New York court system.

New York policemen are sceptical about people who claim to be testing 

poavement ants for junk food, and they turn them in for their own good.


A WOMAN and a man are lying in bed when her cellphone rings.

She answers in a cheery voice: "Hi, I'm so glad you called. Really? That's wonderful. I'm so happy for 

you. That sounds terrific. Great! Thanks. Okay. Bye bye."

"Who was that?"

"My husband - telling me about the great time he's having on his golf trip with you."

Last word

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a 

profound truth may well be another profound truth. 

Niels Bohr

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Idler, Monday, April 6, 2015

Berea bear trap

SUCH excitement at the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties on 

Maundy Thursday – that giant sinkhole was right outside.

What happened was that one of the pipes to the draught pumps 

sprang a leak, scouring out the road's underfill and creating a huge 

underground lake of beer.

Two hefty wenches were crossing at the intersection to attend the 

Thursday evening quiz competition.

Then – collapso! – the ground gave way under them, the sinkhole 

yawned and the two wenches were "treading water" in beer. They 

emerged after swallowing about a gallon apiece and were in fine 

form for the quiz, though their answers didn't quite tally with the 


In fact some of their answers were so studded with exotic 

language, they had to be asked to tone down or leave.

The breweries folk fixed the leak and all we were left with was the 

sinkhole. And of course a large gaping hole outside a place like the 

Street Shelter is like a bear trap. All kinds of citizens were found at 

the bottom next morning – including the proprietor, I'm told. Tsk, 


Life is eventful these days. If it's not power cuts, it's sinkholes.

BE CAREFUL when choosing your company signage on the 

internet. Beau Lintner sends in some examples of where things 

were not quite thought through:

• Who Represents is where you can find the name of the 

agent who represents any celebrity. Their website is: 

• Experts Exchange is a knowledge base where 

programmers can exchange advice and views at: 

• Looking for a great pen? Look no further than Pen 

Island. It can be found at:

• Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at: 

• Then there's the Italian Power Generator company. 

Check it out at:

• IP Computer Software? Try:

• And the designers at Speed of Art await you at their 



INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener spots a stunning 

contradiction in recent statements by President JZ.

In his latest grumpy newsletter he says the president said too 

many people were reliant on state hand-outs. Then, almost in the 

same breath, he promised that about a billion rands would be set 

aside for low interest loans for businessmen selected by race.

"Without dwelling on the likely unconstitutionality of that policy, the 

contradiction is stunning and is a perfect example of the lack of 

understanding of how economies work. 

"Any business that survives only because of taxpayer subsidies 

is not adding any value. The president also complained that this 

step was necessary because commercial lenders were refusing 

to supply cash to these applicants, but failed to spot that this 

was most likely because the banks saw a low probability that the 

businesses would be able to repay the loan.

"Governments of course have no such qualms."

Why indeed?

THE scenes of jubilation among the Aussies after winning the 

Cricket World Cup final in Melbourne remind Michael Green 

– retired editor of our sister newspaper, the Daily News – of 

something he read years ago in the now-defunct Boys' Own 


"An innocent little schoolboy was quoted as writing in an 

essay: 'Why do footballers kiss each other when they've scored? 

They're not married, they're not even engaged'."

A very good question.

Statues struggle

IAN Gibson, poet laureate of Hillcrest, pens some lines on the 

current controversy over statues.

Don't you wish you were a struggle hero

Instead of colonial white and quite a zero;

To stride the high ground

With morals true and sound?

But no! Jan Van Riebeeck won't let go!


THEY'VE finally tied the knot after living together for years. One 

evening he's cleaning his golf shoes.

She says: "Honey, now that we're married isn't it time you quit 

golfing? Maybe you should sell your golf clubs."

He looks at her in total horror.

"Darling, what's wrong?"

"For a moment there you were sounding like my ex-wife."

"Ex-wife?" she screams, "I didn't know you were married before!"

"I wasn't."

Last word

The only thing that scares me more than space aliens is the idea that there 

aren't any space aliens. We can't be the best that creation has to offer. I pray 

we're not all there is. If so, we're in big trouble. 

Ellen DeGeneres

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Idler, Thursday, April 2

Rugby in the boondocks

Oscar Brand is my name,

America is my nation,

Drinking gin my claim to fame,

Seducing girls my occupation,

Tiddly-aye-aye, tiddly-aye-aye,

Tiddly-aye-aye, the one-eyed Reilly,

Jiga-jig-jig, jiga-jig-jig,

Jiga-jig-jig tres bon ...

YES, it's time to fine-tune the vocal chords for rugby songs. 

Kokstad Rugby Club celebrates its 125th

after next with a Vodacom match at the club ground between the 

Sharks and the Free State Cheetahs, to kick off a weekend of 

celebration the way only East Griqualand knows how.

Kokstad is the oldest rugby club in KwaZulu-Natal. It began in 

1890, farmers riding on horseback 40km to play their weekly 


East Griqualand in those days was part of the Cape Colony but 

so distant from East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town itself 

that Kokstad Rugby Club became part of the Natal Rugby Union, 

playing in its competitions.

It produced Springbok Ebbo Bastard and a crop of provincial 

players including Ebbo's brother Cedric, Jimmy Wardlaw, Rex 

Greyling and Tiny Walker.

The celebrations begin with a golf tournament on the Friday. 

Rugby curtainraisers next day will feature regional teams.

This will be a humdinger. The Kokstad folk are known for their 

hospitality and wild carousing – it's the last outpost of the Wild 

West and it'll be a lot of fun, a weekend to rememger.

Yankee Wood

THE photograph featured comes courtesy of the Kokstad 

Advertiser and East Griqualand Gazette. This is a newspaper 

founded in the 1820s by a black American sailor named Yankee 

Wood, who jumped ship at East London and ventured inland to 

seek his fortune.

Wood met up with Adam Kok, the Griqua Kaptein who had trekked 

with his people from Griqualand West to settle in the territory 

known as Nomansland.

Kok was on his way back from the Cape, where he had arranged 

with the governor for his territory to be annexed and known 

as East Griqualand. But he needed a newspaper in which the 

governor's proclamations could be printed.

Wood happened also to be a trained printer and – voila! The 

"Gazette" part of the newspaper's title referred to the governor's 


Wood prospered. He built the Royal Hotel. Then he moved on to 

the Transvaal, where he became a mining magnate and racehorse 

owner, rubbing shoulders with the randlords.

Then he moved to the Kimberley diamond fields and there things 

went badly wrong. He ended up back in Kokstad, dead broke and 

working as doorman at the hotel he had built.

So sad. But the newspaper he founded is still going strong. East 

Griqualand has always been a place of quirks and subtleties.


You can't help feeling sorry for the New Zealand cricketers. They 

played so consistently well for such a long time, then fell at the 

last hurdle.

But I'm afraid I've got worse news for the Kiwis. They're going to 

lose the Rugby World Cup as well.

Hier kom 'n ding!


IT'S a free country. If you want discotheque music, you pay at the 

door and go to one of those clubs. If you want rugby, you buy a 

ticket at King's Park and go inside.

Except that at King's Park these days when you pay to go in and 

watch rugby, you get blasted by disco music instead.

Every time there's a breakdown in play, this appalling "music" 

comes on, really ear-splitting stuff.

Did any of the fans ask for this gormless nonsense? If you go to a 

disco these days, do you instead find people rucking and mauling 

on the dance floor?

Is it a free country?


READER Eric Hodgson sums up the status of our civilisation:

Our phones – wireless; cooking – fireless; cars – keyless; food 

– fatless; tyres –tubeless; dress – sleeveless; youth – jobless; 

leaders – shameless; relationships – meaningless; attitudes – 

careless; babies – fatherless; feelings – heartless; education – 

valueless; children – mannerless; country – Godless.

We are speechless. Government is clueless. Our politicians are 


Eric says he's scared ... er, I'm afraid it rhymes with witless.


POLICE are hunting a "knitting needle nutter", who has 

stabbed six people in the backside in the past 48 hours. 

Detectives believe the attacker is following a pattern.

Last word

Drinking makes such fools of people, and people are such fools to begin 

with, that it's compounding a felony. 

Robert Benchley

The Idler Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Rugby bombshell

THE Sharks will be playing in the northern hemisphere rugby championships from 

next season instead of the southern hemisphere Super 15. This means they will be 

pitted against sides such as Saracens, Bath, Toulouse, Ulster and Munster instead of 

the familiar Stormers, Cheetahs and Bulls.

The decision was taken at an emergency meeting at King's Park, precipitated by 

outrage over Sanzar's decision to appeal against its own citation hearing which 

cleared Frans Steyn of a tip tackle against Waikato Chiefs.

However, it is understood that the switch has been under consideration for some time, 

to avoid the jetlag factor of having to fly backwards and forwards between KwaZulu-
Natal and localities in Australia and New Zealand.

Sharks CEO John Smit confirmed today that the Sharks would be playing in the 

northern hemisphere next season.

"It's been a long time coming. The competition is exhausting enough without this 

continuous latitudinal flying, eastward and westward. It really takes it out of the guys 

and has an obviously negative effect on their performance.

"It makes much more sense to fly south-north to Europe, then back again. No 

monstrously long flights, no jetlag from flying eastward.

"And I've got to be honest: these Sanzar people are beginning to get us down with 

their refs and their disciplinary nonsense. Also, we have our local problems in the 

Super 15 – these Blue Bulls refs and TMOs that seem to be running every match we 

play. It's getting a bit much.

"And it will be nice to have Harlequins, Wasps, London Scottish and the rest of them 

playing at King's Park."

"It's a big change, I know, but we'll be better off in the northern competition. It's for 

the best. My board were unanimous on it."

Meanwhile, the South African Rugby Union has gone into an emergency meeting 

to discuss the Sharks bombshell. Well-placed sources say Saru is in fact dismayed 

because it was itself considering a similar course and feels it has been leapfrogged..

Top of the agenda is a proposal that the Springboks should apply to join the Six 

Nations competition – making it the Seven Nations.

"They were getting sick of this flying between Argentina, Australia and New 

Zealand," the source said. "Too much jetlag. North-South makes much more sense."

World rugby can never be the same again ...

Colonial relics

ETHEKWINI council announced today that, following discussions with the EFF, it 

has agreed to dynamite the statue of King George V outside Howard College. It has 

also agreed to remove all traces of the colonial era, which means a dynamiting of the 

statues in the CBD, the city hall itself, the post office (which served as the meeting 

place of the infamous national convention that led to creation of the Union of South 

Africa) and the Royal Hotel.

Asked if this was not likely to create a wasteland, a spokesman for the EFF said: 

"Yes, that's the general idea".

Heritage Site

UNESCO has declared a new World Heritage Site. This is Nkandla, a place of major 

scientific and other interest which perplexes physicists and economists alike for its 

capacity to attract huge volumes of cash, which disappear as if into one of those black 

holes in space.

Also sociologists and political scientists. It has shown itself to have the unexplained 

capacity to cause brawls in parliament and general social disorder.

Also linguists. Nkandla has given to the English language unique words such as 

"firepool" and "key point".

As the Unesco citation puts it: "Nkandla is one of the mysteries of our universe that 

must be preserved and nurtured for the edification of future generations worldwide."

As a spokesman for the Department of Tourism put it: "Nkandla has been top of 

our marketing strategy for a time now. This recognition will give it a huge boost. It 

coincides very nicely with our budgeted plans for a R3 billion tourism airport there 



DRAT! This stuff keeps overflowing from the news pages into this space. Funny, it 

seems to happen every year on April 1.


MY NEIGHBOUR knocked on my door at 2:30am this morning. 

Can you believe that - 2:30am? Luckily I was still up playing my 


Last word

April 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three 

hundred and sixty-four. - Mark Twain

The Idler, Tuesday, March 31

Gaudeamus igitur ...

THE totally senseless row in Cape Town over the Rhodes statue 

(and here in Durban over King George V) recalls the lines of Peter 


Hier het ons stetjoes, elkeen soos 'n mens: 

ou Afduim-Murray, Hofmeyr met sy pens; 

hier's Jan van Riebeeck, bakgat aangetrek

in sy plus-fours; Cecil Rhodes wat jou wys 

wa' die reisiesbaan lê; en vorie Paalmint-hys 

ou Mies Victoria met ha' klein spanspek.

(Here we have statues, each one like a person:

Old missing thumb Murray, Hofmeyr with his tummy;

Here's Jan van Riebeeck, togged out splendid

in his plus-fours; Cecil Rhodes who shows you

where the racecourse lies; and before the Parliament-house

Old Miss Victoria with her small musk melon.)

That surely is the attitude to have toward statues. In Maritzburg 

during rag week the students would give Sir Theophilus Shepstone 

a tennis racquet. Queen Victoria would get a bra, plus a quart of 

beer balanced on her outstretched hand.

Those UCT students take themselves altogether too seriously. As 

for the fellow who smeared faeces, he surely has problems going 

beyond the fact that he's still a student at age of 30.

Gaudeamus igitur,

Juvenes dum sumus;

Not at age 30. But dumb all right.

Bill Payn

WHOOPS, mea culpa! Last week we misspelled the name of the 

legendary Bill Payn, mistakenly putting an "e" on the end of his 

name. (Google is partly to blame – they do the same).

In contrition, I bring you some more facts about Payn. He was 

a legendary schoolmaster at DHS, where he taught Latin and 

English. He could actually converse in Latin (though I suppose a 

difficulty would have been finding somebody to talk to).

He fought in two world wars – on the Western Front in Europe in 

World War I and in the Western Desert in World War II, where he 

won the Military Medal for carrying a wounded comrade to safety 

while under heavy enemy fire. He was later taken prisoner-of-war.

A giant of a man, he he played rugby for the Springboks and 

represented Natal at rugby, boxing, athletics, baseball and cricket.

I quote from the eulogy delivered at Payn's funeral in 1959 by 

none other than Izak van Heerden, the legendary Natal rugby 

coach of the 1960s, who also taught at DHS and served with him 

in World War II.

"Bill's fabulous feats in so many spheres and his courage on the 

field of battle made him a legendary, if not saintly, figure among 

us all ...To have been his comrade in arms and also a fellow POW 

was an ennobling elevation from the horror of war ...

"It is perhaps incredible that in such a robust frame of rugged 

grandeur there should be enshrined a soul so sensitive to the 

magic of words and the great beauty of the English language 

which Bill not only mastered but enriched ..."

Van Heerden was no slouch either in stringing together a few 


Controlled war

ESPECIALLY interesting is Izak van Heerden's take on Payn's 

philosophy of rugby. 

"He said of rugby: 'Why men love to play rugby is, I feel sure, that 

it is the simulacrum of war as waged in the mediaeval days, when 

battles were marked by the two cardinal virtues of courtesy and 

courage' ... 

"He worshipped rugger for companionship among friends, in 

rendering opportunities for courtesy and generosity to opponents, 

as well as camaraderie to strangers."

Who can argue with that?

Not Confucius

FRED Haupt sends in a list of things Confucius did NOT say:

• Man who wants pretty nurse must be patient.

• Lady who goes camping with man must beware of evil intent.

• Man who fight with wife all day get no piece at night.

• Man who stand on toilet is high on pot.

• Wise man not keep sledgehammer and slow computer in 

same room.

• Man who live in glass house should change clothes in 



Did Confucius really not say those things? Maybe he should have.


Man driving down road.

Woman driving up same road.

They pass each other.

Woman yells out of window: "Pig!"

Man yells out of window: Bitch!"

Man rounds next curve.

Man crashes into huge pig in middle of road. Crunches car.

Thought for the day: If men would just listen ...

Last word

An onion can make people cry, but there has never been a vegetable 

invented to make them laugh. 

Will Rogers

The Idler, Monday, March 30, 2015

It's carnival time

LOAD shedding is providing some truly spectacular traffic snarl-
ups at evening rush hour as the lights at the intersections stop 

functioning. In the Springfield Park-Umgeni road sector the other 

afternoon there was a jam worthy of anything to be found in Lagos, 

Nigeria, which has until now been a world leader in the field.

In Lagos the traffic jams have become giant informal markets, with 

vendors selling everything from hurricane lamps to live chickens.

Excitement is provided from time to time by the Nigerian equivalent 

of our blue light convoys. Except that because of the gridlock they 

are practically stationary so the escorting cops lean out of the 

windows as the sirens howl and they whack everything in sight 

with truncheons, causing corrugations in roofs and bonnets and 

the occasional splintering of windscreen glass.

We're getting there, we're getting there. Spontaneous street 

markets will spring up as people camp out waiting for the traffic to 

get moving; impromtu roadside braais also; buskers will see their 

opportunity; it can develop into a gigantic street carnival – every 


Let's have this in place by the time the Commonwealth Games 

come to Durban.

Metro police?

AT THE intersection snarl-ups, it's astonishing the way street 

urchins take upon themselves the function of directing the traffic. 

They do it with great enthusiasm and at times a degree of success.

Whether they get any reward for this is not clear. Maybe it's pure 


But where are the metro police in these monster snarl-ups? 

They're not to be seen. Do they all knock off at evening rush hour?

One might have thought the traffic crisis brought on by load-
shedding would be exactly the sort of thing the metro cops are 

there to handle. That some sort of strategy would have been 

drawn up and put into action.

Dream on ...


CRICKET is a game where events on the field of play are captured 

in a mass of statistics explaining what happened and how. 

Those stats would be absolutely meaningless to a Martian or 

an American. Even for those of us who love the game, the stats 

themselves have a certain dryness.

Who would think that they could be made entertaining? Yet at 

a meeting at Kingsmead the other evening of the Natal Cricket 

Society, military historian Paul Kilmartin had the place rocking with 

laughter. (Paul's speciality is World War I – world cricket is a side 


His format is a quiz with some really obscure and arcane questions 

(a surprising number of which some of our fellows were able to 

answer), and when his audience are stumped, he supplies the 

answers in a very off-beat way.

Paul is based in England. He goes to a curry restaurant in Maida 

Vale, which has on the menu a Geoffrey Boycott curry – "It gives 

you the runs slowly".

Great stuff!


READER Eric Hodgson sums up the status of our civilisation:

Our phones – wireless; cooking – fireless; cars – keyless; food 

– fatless; tyres –tubeless; dress – sleeveless; youth – jobless; 

leaders – shameless; relationships – meaningless; attitudes – 

careless; babies – fatherless; feelings – heartless; education – 

valueless; children – mannerless; country – Godless.

We are speechless. Government is clueless. Our politicians are 


Eric says he's scared ... er, it rhymes with witless.

Not Confucius

FRED Haupt sends in a list of things Confucius did NOT say:

• Man who wants pretty nurse must be patient.

• Passionate kiss, like spiderweb, leads to undoing of fly.

• Lady who goes camping with man must beware of evil intent.

• Squirrel who runs up woman's leg will not find nuts.

• Man who eats many prunes gets good run for money.

• Man who fight with wife all day get no piece at night.

• Man who stands on toilet is high on pot.

• Wise man not keep sledgehammer and slow computer in 

same room.

• Man who live in glass house should change clothes in 


• Man who fish in other man's well often catch crabs.

• A lion will not cheat on his wife, but a Tiger Wood. 

Did Confucius really not say those things? Maybe he should have.


NOTE on the fridge:

"My dear wife,

"You will surely understand that I have certain needs that you, being 54 

years old, can no longer satisfy.

"I am very happy with you and I value you as a good wife. Therefore, after 

reading this letter, I hope that you will not wrongly interpret the fact that I 

will be spending the evening at the Comfort Inn Hotel with Chantelle, my 

18 year old secretary.

"Please don't be upset. I shall be home before midnight."


Second note on the fridge:


"My dear husband,

"I received your letter and thank you for your honesty about my being 54 

years old.. I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that you are 

also 54.

"As you know, I am a mathematics teacher at our local college. I would 

like to inform you that while you read this, I will be at the Hotel Fiesta with 

Michael, one of my students, who is also the assistant rugby coach. He is 

young, virile, and (like your secretary) 18 years old.

"As a successful businessman with a mathematical brain, you will 

understand that we are in the same situation, but with one small difference. 

Eighteen goes into 54 a lot more times than 54 goes into 18. Therefore I 

will not be home until sometime tomorrow."


Last word

I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean. 

GK Chesterton

The Idler, Friday, March 27, 2015

Close but no cigar

'TWAS a sombre gathering the other evening at the Street Shelter for the Over-
Forties in the aftermath of the Cricket World Cup debacle.

What is it about our one-day game? With the arsenal of talent at our disposal to 

remain top of the world ratings in five-day Test cricket, how is it that it doesn't 

translate to the 50-overs game?

What lunacy inspired the selection of Vernon Philander, with no recent match time 

due to injury, over the in-form Kyle Abbot?

And that collision in the field between Farhaan Behardien and JP Duminy – mama 

mia! At this level?

Close, chaps, but no cigar. It's a rum old world.

Maybe the spirits will be lifted tomorrow against the Western Force (what ridiculous 

names these professional sides have these days) who hail, I think, from Perth 


We watch with interest for red cards. There's a theory that there are elements in 

Sanzar who want to whittle down the game to rugby league dimensions – 13 a side – 

before eliminating the scrum as an area of real contestation.

It's got to be untrue. But after last Saturday's red cards, and the way scrumhalves are 

allowed to put the ball in skew – you might as well have a monkey-scrum – you begin 

to wonder.

See you in the Duikers!

Blame game

INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener notes in his latest grumpy newsletter that 

JZ has announced he is to personally take over the investigation of Eskom.

"This probably means that the main issue is not primarily a technical one since Zuma 

most assuredly has zero skills in that area ... JZ needs to move in fast and see what 

can be covered up and who deserves the blame – if not Jan van Riebeeck then maybe 

Cecil Rhodes."

Ukraine bust

MEANWHILE, it's with great wistfulness that we read a news 

snippet from the Ukraine.

"Two senior Ukrainian officials have been arrested during a cabinet 

meeting as part of an anti-corruption crackdown, hours after a 

powerful regional governor was sacked.

"The head of Ukraine's State Emergencies Service, Serhiy 

Bochkovsky, and his deputy Vasyl Stoyetsky were handcuffed by 

police at the televised meeting.

"They are suspected of involvement in high-level corruption.

"Earlier Ukraine's president sacked a billionaire governor, Ihor 


Yes, wistfulness is the word. 

Glass ceiling

THERE'S mounting speculation as to whether Hillary Clinton 

will manage to shatter "the highest and hardest glass ceiling" 

by winning the Democrat presidential nomination, then actually 

making it to the White House.

I take no position on this. I am strictly neutral.

But has it occurred to the gals that if Hillary makes it to the 

White House, she will have to surround herself entirely with 


Bill would also be there, you see. All those interns ...


OVERHEARD in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties: 

"Statistically, six out of seven dwarves are not Happy."

Cockney idiom

FELL off the back of a lorry, Guv, know wot I mean, know wot I mean?

In Guizhou province in China the other day, it was almost five tons of it wot fell off 

the back of a lorry.

Five tons of live catfish, that is. A faulty catch on the tailboard had them out on 

the road – schloop! – and next thing it was firehouses to keep them wet and alive 

and a bulldozer to scoop them up again.

We use here the Cockney argot, but Billingsgate fish market has nothing on this.


THE man who stole the show in Sweden's Eurovision final was – judging from 

internet reaction – the fellow who writhed and danced to the music, making sign 

language to convey the words of the songs to the deaf.

Millions watched Tommy Krangh on Facebook and YouTube. There are calls for him to 

star in the grand final in Vienna, in May.

Hey, here's an opportunity for Thamsanqa Jantjie, the fellow who caused such an outcry 

with his sign language at the Mandela memorial service. So what if a soulful ballad is 

mimed as the gumboot dance?


Defence lawyer: "The blood tests have come back. There's good news and bad news."

Client: "What's the bad news?"

Defence lawyer: "Your DNA matches the blood found on the victim,, the murder weapon 

and the getaway car."

Client: "And the good news?"

Defence lawyer: "Your cholesterol level is down."

Last word

Setting a good example for children takes all the fun out of middle age. 

William Feather

The Idler, Thuirsday, March 26, 2015

One happy subscriber

SAINT Bernards seem to have given up brandy and are delivering The 

Mercury instead. Reader "Rip" Riphagen, of Brighton Beach, says he has been 

subscribing for a few years now.

"Recently I acquired a Saint Bernard and she fetches my paper for me every 

morning from the driveway. 

"And every morning, come sunshine or rain, snow or hail, hell, high water or 

technology, tsunami or sirocco, your delivery men put my paper in a plastic 

bag to protect it from the slobber. It is but a small thing but I am really very 

thankful for that. I think it is extremely considerate of them.

"Please convey my sincere thanks to them. You may also buy them a Bells. 

Just use some of the money you guys deduct from my bank account every 


"However when I told my friend Peter, who also has a Saint, about this he was 

not impressed. He says his dog also brings him his paper every morning and 

he doesn't even have a subscription.

"Perhaps I should start training my dog again. What do you think?"

I think you should speak to your friend Peter about his training methods, work 

hard at it and by Christmas your Saint will deliver a keg of Bells, courtesy 

of our circulation department. They're the most generous people you can 


Golden memories

NINETY-ONE-year-old Phyllis Larcombe sends in some charming 

memories of Durban in the 1920s. They also feature the legendary 

DHS schoolmaster, Bill Payne, who was an early Comrades 

Marathon runner. 

"My parents lived in a single-storey semi-detached house in 

Essenwood Road, opposite where Musgrave Centre now stands. 

Several of my mother's relatives lived in small houses between 

Essenwood and Musgrave Roads.

"Her uncle, David Walsh, planted the baobab tree which was later 

saved by the builders. It can be observed at the entrance to the 

parking area of Musgrave Centre.

"My sister (now aged 95) played with the neighbour's three 


Jacqueline, Petal and Wendy. Their father was Bill Payne who was 

one of the Comrades who started the Comrades Marathon.

"My mother was taken in a rickshaw to the Enfield Nursing Home 

where I was born, 91 years ago.

"Bill Payne made a swing for the children. The ropes were on a 

very high tree branch. When he swung them, they went over the 

dividing fence. His wife was standing in the kitchen doorway and 

remonstrated with him. He turned to her and said: 'Oh, don't be 

such a wet Winnie,' in the idiom of those days.

"We moved away from Durban but went to Hibberdene and stayed 

in a holiday cottage during the July holidays.

"At that time, I was nine years old. We were walking along the 

railway line from sleeper to sleeper and could see the brown water 

coming down 

in flood in the river below.

"My mother exclaimed: 'Oh, look, there is a branch with an arm 

over it.' The swimmer guided the branch to the bank and climbed 

out of the water. My mother gasped: 'Oh look, it's Bill Payne." She 

went over and spoke to him. Walking back, with my mother, she 

told me all these things about the early Durban days."

Rugby boots

PART of the Bill Payne legend is that he ran the Comrades in 

his rugby boots, stopped off at Botha's Hill for a curry and rice 

and a quart of beer, then was given a glass of peach brandy by a 

spectator around Cato Ridge, which served like rocket fuel for him 

to finish the race.

It seems he also enjoyed swimming in flooded rivers.


AN OLD man of 90 is sitting on a park bench crying.

A policeman asks: "What's the matter?"

"I just got married to a 25-year-old woman. Every morning we make love, she 

makes me a wonderful breakfast, and we then have fun together, laughing 

and relaxing. In the afternoon she makes me a wonderful lunch and then we 

make love again and have fun together, laughing and relaxing. At dinner time 

she makes me a wonderful supper and then we relax more and really enjoy 


"You shouldn't be crying, you should be the happiest man in the world."

"I know. I'm crying because I can't remember where I live!"

Last word

He wrapped himself in quotations - as a beggar would enfold himself in the 

purple of Emperors. 

Rudyard Kipling

Ther Idler, Wednesday, March 2015

Singapore strongman

LEE Kuan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister, who died this 

week aged 91, was not exactly a poster boy for libertarianism. 

He imposed discipline. He cracked down hard on layabouts and 

malcontents. Chewing gum was banned. Drop a stompie on the 

pavement and you'd go to jail. Long hair in men was banned (Too 

bad for the Bee Gees and Led Zeppelin). Express yourself through 

graffiti and you'd get caned.

But he took the place by the scruff of the neck and transformed 

it into an Asian Tiger. Singapore had been a colonial backwater, 

sporadically convulsed by rioting between its Chinese, Malay and 

Indian ethnic groups.

No more. Lee promoted a work ethic. Jobs were created, people 

were too busy to squabble. He took the poor out of the slums and 

put them in apartment blocks. But they had to work.

Singaporean shipping became a world powerhouse. Similarly 

with high- tech industry and banking. The government created the 

space for those who wanted to work.

Lee was tough and ruthless. But he operated transparently and 

within the law (he was a British-trained barrister).

I once heard him being interviewed. When it was put to him that 

many considered him authoritarian, Lee just chuckled.

"Yes, I'm authoritarian. And every five years I go to the people and 

they ask for more." It went on for three decades – election after 

election that Lee won.

We look on somewhat wistfully. Which island state has the more 

resonance here – Singapore or Cuba?

Red cards

LET'S be honest, the weather rescued us last Saturday. You 

can't hope to play and win, one man short, against a team like the 

Waikato Chiefs in normal handling conditions.

That horrendous downpour and gale-force wind narrowed the gap. 

The Sharks were able to hang in there grimly and pull it off. Epic 

stuff – but we wouldn't have done it in normal conditions. Not one 

man short for most of the game.

Which brings us to this wretched question of red cards. Yes, 

thuggery has to be stamped out. In a physical game like rugby, it 

can be allowed no traction.

But does the match have to be castrated? Do the many thousands 

of fans have to watch something second-rate? Fifteen men versus 

14 (or in last Saturday's case 14 against 13)?

Punish the transgressors by all means. Give them heavy fines and 

long suspensions. But let somebody come on off the bench. Let 

the game continue as a true contest.

The IRB really need to think this one through.


SOME number crunching that perhaps explains why South African 

Airways is in such financial distress.

QANTAS (Australian) has 32 500 employees serving a total of 252 

aircraft - 129 employees per aircraft

American Airlines has 87 897 employees serving a total of 618 

aircraft - 142 employees per aircraft

Delta Airlines has 106 216 employees serving a total of 722 

aircraft - 147 employees per aircraft

British Airways has 36 832 employees serving a total of 238 

aircraft - 154 employees per aircraft

United Airlines has 115 149 employees serving a total of 710 

aircraft - 162 employees per aircraft

South African Airways has 55 500 employees serving a total of 58 

aircraft - 957 employees per aircraft.

Hey, but those 957 pump the tyres in fine style!

Sterling stuff

A READER who calls himself  Hughbythesea supplies another 

adaptation of the Jack and Jill nursery rhyme.

Jack and Jill went up the hill

to fetch a pail of water

Jill came down with half-a-crown,

She was no parson's daughter.


THE 10 senior members of the board of directors  are called 

one by one into the chairman's office. Eventually only a newly 

appointed junior director is left sitting outside. Then he is called in.

The chairman and the 10 other directors are seated round a table. 

He is invited to join them.

The chairman asks in a stern voice: "Have you ever 

      had sex with Mrs. Foyt, my secretary?" 

      "Oh, no sir, positively not!". 

      "Are you absolutely sure?"  

      "Honestly, I've never been close enough to even touch her!" 

      "You'd swear to that?" 

      "Yes, I swear I've never had sex with Mrs. Foyt anytime, 


      "Good. Then you can fire her!"

Last word

When I came back to Dublin I was courtmartialled in my absence and 

sentenced to death in my absence, so I said they could shoot me in my 


Brendan Behan

The Idler, Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Police harassment

THE police in Chula Vista, California, ran an e-mail forum with the local community, 

the topic being, "Community Policing." One of the participants posed the following 

question: "I would like to know how it is possible for police officers to continually 

harass people and get away with it?"

From the law enforcement side, a Sergeant Bennett gave a comprehensive reply:

"It's not easy. In Chula Vista, we average one cop for every 600 people. 

Only about 60% of those cops are on general patrol duty where we do most of our 


"At any given moment, only one-fifth of the 60% patrollers are on duty and available 

for harassing people. while the rest are off duty. So roughly one cop is responsible for 

harassing about 5 000 residents.

"When you toss in the commercial business, and tourist locations that attract people 

from other areas, sometimes you have a situation where a single cop is responsible 

for harassing 10 000 or more people a day.

"Now, your average ten-hour shift runs 36 000 seconds long. This gives a cop 

one second to harass a person, and then only threequarters of a second to eat a 

doughnut and then find a new person to harass. 

"This is not an easy task. What we do is utilise some tools to help us narrow down 

those people which we can realistically harass.

 "The tools available to us are as follows:

• "Phone: People will call us up and point out things that cause us to focus on 

a person for special harassment. "My neighbour is beating his wife" is a code 

phrase used often. This means we'll come out and give somebody some special 

harassment. Another popular one: "There's a guy breaking into a house." The 

harassment team is then put into action.

• "Car: We have special cops assigned to harass people who drive. They like to 

harass the drivers of fast cars, cars with no insurance or no driver's licences 

and the like. It's lots of fun when you pick them out of traffic for nothing 

more obvious than running a red light. Sometimes you get to really heap the 

harassment on when you find they have drugs in the car, they are drunk or 

have an outstanding warrant on file.

• "Runners: Some people take off running just at the sight of a police officer. 

Nothing is quite as satisfying as running after them like a beagle on the scent 

of a bunny. When you catch them you can harass them for hours to determine 

why they didn't want to talk to us.

• "Statutes: When we don't have phones or cars and have nothing better to 

do, there are actually books that give us ideas for reasons to harass folks. 

They are called statutes, criminal codes, motor vehicle codes etc... They spell 

out all sorts of things for which you can really mess with people. After you 

read the statute, you can just drive around for a while until you find someone 

violating one of these listed offences and harass them. Just last week I saw 

a guy trying to steal a car. Well, there's this book we have that says that's 

not allowed. That meant I got permission to harass this guy. It's a really cool 

system that we've set up, and it works pretty well ..."

Durban is launching an inquiry into the metro police? Let's have Sergeant Bennett, of 

the Chula Vista police department, California, as an expert witness. Clearly, what we 

need is constant police harassment.


A FELLOW is looking for a place to sit in a crowded university 

library. He asks a girl:  "Do you mind if I squeeze in beside you 


She replies in a loud voice: ""No, I don't want to spend the night 

with you!"

Everyone stares, shocked. He slinks away to another table.

Next thing the girl gets up and walks over to him. She laughs: 

"I study psychology. I know what a man is thinking. You felt 

embarrassed right?  This is for a research project I'm involved in."

He replies in a loud voice the whole place can hear: "R800 for one 

night? That's robbery!" 

Then he whispers in her ear. "I'm studying law. We'll take you 

psychos down any day."

Last word

I'm as pure as the driven slush. 

Tallulah Bankhead

The Idler, Monday, March 23, 2015

GOODNESS gracious ... great balls of fire .... The lyrics of Jerry

Lee Lewis came to mind the other evening at the Beachwood 

course of Durban Country Club.

The clubhouse looks out onto a practice putting green, then 

magnificent rolling fairways. 'Tis a most salubrious place to take 

ale and talk about rugby.

Evening was falling. But as it got darker, golfers were still 

sauntering out to practice on the putting green or tee off.

They had with them brightly luminous golf balls – red, yellow, lime-
green, orange and white. I'd never seen or heard of such a thing 


They're proper golf balls, yet they give off this bright luminosity. 

The fairways themselves are marked with glowing lights, like 

landing strips. I understand the bunkers and greens are similarly 


Because of their aura of luminosity, the balls look larger than 

normal golf balls as they roll across the green, but that's an 

illusion. These are the genuine article. And it's almost impossible 

to lose them in the rough.

I suppose there's the risk of a plane mistaking Beachwood for 

Virginia and following the strip lights to land on the fairway, but it's 

an outside chance.

Apparently night golf is all the rage these days. Golfers with balls 

that glow in the dark – the mind, senor, she boggles!


Old Transkei

BARRY Payn, of Port Edward, confirms my recollection of a red-
haired fellow named Geoff Allen who used to put over place kicks 

barefoot at Maritzburg College in the 1960s. Also that he was from 

Lusikisiki, where his parents ran the Royal Hotel.

"I was from Flagstaff and I used to travel with Blue and Geoff." 

(Blue was Geoff's older brother)

Yes, the old Royal Hotel, Lusikisiki. Blue and Geoff's dad was a 

retired doctor. Above the bar was his old brass nameplate – Dr 

Allen FRCP (Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians)

And underneath that were the initials: "WYBMADIITY."

Newcomers would ask what they stood for. The barman would 

reply: "Will you buy me a drink if I tell you?"


"Well I've just told you." The barman would then read it backwards: 

"You think I intend drinking a mineral but you're wrong!"

Yes, as Barry says, some strange stuff came out of the old 


A READER who calls himself Hughbythesea sens in another variation on the Jack and Jill nursery 


Jack and Jill went up the hill

to fetch a pail of water

Jill came down with half-a-crown

She was no parson's daughter


FO Stanford

DOES anyone know anything about – or better still have a photograph of – a Flying 

Officer Nicholas James Stanford, who was from Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal, and died 

on May 4, 1943, when his Royal Air Force Lancaster bomber was shot down in a raid 

over Friesland, the Netherlands.

Colonel Maryna Fondse, South African military attaché to the Benelux countries, 

is anxious to include a photograph of FO Stanford in an information board for a 

memorial to himself and his crew, all of whom also died, in the cemetery at the town 

of Workum,

She needs it for the Remembrance Day ceremonies on April 16.

FO Stanford had a cousin, Felicity O'Grady, who died in Cape Town in 1990. She in 

turn had a daughter, Teresa Ethelwynne O'Grady, of whom the air force can find no 

trace, though she is thought to have had the married name Nash but was divorced.

Can anyone out there assist?


AN ENGINEER branches into quack medicine. A 

sign at his clinic reads: "Any treatment R500. If 

treatment unsuccessful, refund R1 000."

A doctor puts him to the test. He goes to the 

engineer's and says: "I've lost the sense of taste."

"Nurse, please bring medicine from Box 22. Put 

three drops in the patient's mouth."

"This is petrol!"

"Congratulations! Your sense of taste is back. That 

will be R500."

The doctor comes back a couple of days later: 

"I've lost my memory, I can't remember anything."

"Nurse, bring medicine from Box 22 and put three 

drops in the patient's mouth."

"But that's petrol!"

"Congratulations! You've got your memory back. 

That will be R500."

The doctor comes back yet again: "My eyesight 

has become weak."

"I don't have any medicine for that. Take this R1 


"But this is R500."

"Congratulations! You got your vision back. 

That'll be R500."

Give that engineer a Bells!

Last word

Scepticism, like chastity, should not be relinquished too readily. 

George Santayana

The Idler, Friday, March 20

Seize the opportunity!

LET'S be constructive about this dispute between the city and Top Gear. Let's 

turn it to our advantage. Let's take a leaf out of the book of Salt Lake City, in the 


At Salt Lake City, Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and former 

candidate for president, is going to get into the ring and fight Evander Holyfield, 

former heavyweight world boxing champion.

It's in aid of charity. Romney's connection with Salt Lake City is that he helped 

organise the Winter Olympics there in 2002.

Bingo! Why not put city manager S'bu Sithole in the ring with Jeremy Clarkson? 

A full 15 rounds, the man left standing gets half the takings. Moses Mabhida 

stadium would be a sell-out. The city could use its share to offset the cost of the 

Commonwealth Games.

Clarkson, as we know, has been in heavy training, decking BBC production 

assistants and so forth, but there's time for S'bu to catch up. I'm sure the metro 

police could devise a rigorous training programme for him and allow him the use 

of their gym. He can get into practice, clipping a few of his clerical staff down at 

city hall. It's all in a good cause, they won't mind.

It's time to think outside the box!

Ready Aye Ready

THE police in Toronto, Canada, have been puzzled by the 

discovery of a tunnel dug under woodland near York University. 

It extends about 10m, is well constructed with wooden supports, 

about 3m underground, and had in it a gas generator and a sump 

pump for extracting groundwater.

Hanging from a nail were a rosary and a Remembrance Day 


Who could have been responsible for this? My thoughts went 

immediately to Merchiston Preparatory School, in Maritzburg. Had 

a Merchistonian emigrated to Canada?

Back in the 50s a movie came out, The Wooden Horse. This was 

about British prisoners-of-war escaping from a German camp. 

They tunnelled their way out, hiding the surplus earth they'd dug 

inside a wooden exercise horse they used, which also covered the 

mouth of the tunnel. They surreptitiously disposed of the earth, the 

German guards never suspecting a thing.

The Merchiston boarders – this was at the old premises in Burger 

Street – were encouraged to cultivate a vegetable garden in a 

corner of the grounds. Seedling boxes were in place. After the 

screening of The Wooden Horse, tunnels made their appearance 

beneath each seedling box.

Most of these tunnels wandered rather aimlessly. But one was 

ambitious, targeted. Its excavators planned to go right under 

Commercial Road and come up inside Oxenham's Bakery, where 

the diggers would be able to seize pies and cake.

But, alas, they were frustrated. They discovered that roads actually 

have deep and impassable foundations.

On reflection, this was desperately dangerous stuff. The teaching 

staff would have had kittens if they'd known about it. I recall having 

a conversation with the kamp kommandant, er headmaster, about 

the contents of a seedling box, he absolutely unaware that in the 

tunnel beneath that box was another small boy with a paraffin 


The earth must have been of just the right loam. The marvel is 

that there was not a single collapse, not a casualty. Enthusiasm 

waned, new movies brought new ideas. The tunnels were 

abandoned. They're possibly still there. I don't think the staff ever 

had the faintest inkling of what had been going on for a few weeks.

I still shudder when I think of it.

The Canada thing? A fellow named Elton McDonald has now 

come forward and says he and a friend dug the tunnel, it seems 

just to have a place to chill out and relax. It seems no law has 

been broken. I wonder – does Elton have any connection with 



TWO paintings are hanging in an art gallery. Both are still lifes by 

the same artist. Each features a laid table with a glass of wine, a 

plate of bread rolls and a plate of ham. One is priced R1 000, the 

other R1 500.

"Why the price difference?" asks a customer.

"You get more ham with the expensive one."

Last word

I write down everything I want to remember. That way, instead of spending 

a lot of time trying to remember what it is I wrote down, I spend the time 

looking for the paper I wrote it down on. 

Beryl Pfizer

The Idler, Thursday, March 19, 2015

The bugle calls

MATTERS are becoming fraught with all these injuries in the Sharks camp and the 

insistence of Saru that our Springboks should be rested –  just when the Waikato 

Chiefs are in town.

The permutations of this enforced R&R are by no means clear, but it would be a 

travesty if a team that gelled so nicely last weekend were not allowed to keep ramping 

it up because of enforced personnel changes.

But a crisis is a crisis and we of the rugby brotherhood will rally to the cause. 

As it happens, I attend a regular rugby colloquium in Durban North of players of 

yesteryear. We have earnestly discussed the crisis and come up with a makeshift 


Keith Parkinson is available to stand in for Bismarck if necessary over coming weeks. 

Pete Ripley-Evans similarly for Jannie. Trix Truter is available on the wing for JP 

Pietersen. My old clubmate Freddie Davel can stand in for Patrick Lambie. And Brian 

Schabram is available at scrumhalf if Cobus Reinach has to stand down. (And then I 

will be on the bench for Schabie in case, at the age of 83, he should run out of puff).

It was fairly late by the time we came to this decision. The horse mentioned in the 

Book of Job comes to mind:  "He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; 

and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, 

and the shouting ..."

Avante! Avante! These rugby colloquiums can get quite lively.


EARLIER this week Zoltan de Rosner mentioned an Under-19 inter-provincial at 

King's Park in the late fifties when a Transvaal prop forward took off his boot to goal 

a penalty from his own 10-yard line.

Now Bernard Ravno tells us he actually played in that game, which he thinks was 

against Northern Transvaal, not Transvaal.

"Zoltan is quite correct – a burly opposition prop forward did indeed kick a penalty 

over from his own 10 yard line. However I don't recall him removing his boots to do 

so, but then I also cannot recall the final score, so he may well have done."

Bernard says the Springbok trials were held the following week. At the last moment 

one of the prop forwards in the D team could not play and so they called up the Under 

19 "mighty booter" to fill in.

"What happened thereafter I cannot recall, nor his name – except that I had played 

against him the previous Saturday."


A WEEK or so ago, Sally Bosch was unable to read this column 

because we also had a picture of a cockroach with a radio tag 

attached. Cockroaches give her the hebbie-jeebies, even a picture 

of one, and she couldn't bear to look at it.

And it gets worse. She can't stand insecticide spray. It makes her 

physically ill.

Sally has strung together a few lines on this twin aversion. It's titled 

Don't Bug Me!

I don't like ugly bugs,

But I cannot stand the spray.

I'd rather have the goggas

And noo-noos any day.

I really do not like bugs,

Roaches scare me silly,

But bug-spray is what bugs me most.

In fact it drives me dilly.

Keep your spray away from me,

And leave those bugs alone!

I beg of you, I'm on my knees.

Please wait until I'm gone!

Water sommelier

NEWS from America – a restaurant in Los Angeles 

offers diners a list of 20 types of bottled water. 

Water sommelier Martin Riese also offers regular 

"water tastings" – like wine tastings – where people 

are able to discover their favourite blend.

Selections at a recent tasting included Iskilde, 

Danish glacier water that evokes childhood 

memories of tasting raindrops, and Roi, a high-
magnesium water from Slovenia that has a metallic 


There's nothing strange about this. At the Street 

Shelter for the Over-Forties we have regular water 

tastings. The preferred blend usually involves The 

Famous Grouse (aka Die Beroemde Tarentaal) or 



"HI, you logged a call with tech support. What 

seems to be the problem?"

"It's this damned computer. It does whatever in the 

hell it wants. It's supposed to do only what I tell it 


"Listen lady, it's a computer not a husband."

Last word

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow. 

Mark Twain

The Idler, Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Durban curry contest

DETAILS come this way of a curry contest right here in Durban, 

where a visiting American gastronome joined two local judges. 

Here are the scorecard notes

* Seelan's Maniac Monster tomato curry.

Judge 1 - A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick.

Judge 2 -- Nice smooth tomato flavour. Very mild.

Judge 3 - Holy cow! What the hell is this stuff? You could

remove paint with it. Took me two beers to put the

flames out.

* Phoenix BBQ chicken curry

Judge 1 - Smoky, with a hint of chicken. Slight chilli tang.

Judge 2 - Exciting BBQ flavour, needs more peppers to be taken 


Judge 3 -- Keep this out of the reach of children! I'm tasting pain. 

I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich 

manoeuvre! They had to rush in more beer...

* Shamila's famous Burn Down The Garage curry.

Judge 1 - Excellent firehouse curry. Great kick.

Judge 2 - A bit salty, good use of chilli peppers.

Judge 3 - Call 911. I've located a uranium pill. My nose feels like

I've been snorting drain cleaner. Everyone knows the routine by 

now - more beer before I ignite! I'm getting pickled.

* Baboo's Black Magic bean curry.

Judge 1 -- Black bean curry with almost no spice. Disappointing.

Judge 2 -- Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish 

or other mild foods, not much of a curry.

Judge 3 -- I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was

unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? 

* Lall's Lethal Lip Remover.

Judge 1 - Meaty, strong curry. Cayenne peppers freshly ground,

adding considerable kick. Very impressive.

Judge 2 - Average beef curry, could use more tomato. Must admit 

the chili peppers make a strong statement.

Judge 3 - My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead 

and I can no longer focus my eyes. Shareen saved my tongue 

from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. The 

other judges asked me to stop screaming. 

* Verishnee's Vegetarian Variety.

Judge - Thin yet bold vegetarian variety curry. Good balance of

spices and peppers.

Judge 2 - The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and

garlic. Superb.

Judge 3 - My intestines are filled with gaseous, sulphuric flames.. 

Can't feel my lips any more. 

* Selina's Mother-in-Law's Tongue curry

Judge 1 - A mediocre curry with too much reliance on canned 


Judge 2 - Ho hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of

chili peppers at the last moment. (I am worried about Judge 3. He 

appears to be in a bit of distress).

Judge 3 - You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I

wouldn't feel a thing. I've lost sight in one eye, and the world

sounds like it is made of rushing water. 

* Naidoo's Toenail Curling curry.

Judge 1 - The perfect ending. This is a nice blend curry. Not too

bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.

Judge 2 - This final entry is a good, balanced curry. Neither mild

nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge 3 

passed out, fell over and pulled the curry pot down on top of 

himself. Not sure he's going to make it. Poor man, I wonder how 

he'd have reacted to really hot curry?

Judge 3 - No report.

See you at the Britannia.

Rhyme time

REGULAR telephone contact Barrie "with an 'ie'" proffers a 

nursery rhyme.

Jack and Jill went up the hill,

Each with a dollar and a quarter.

Jill came down with two dollars and a half,

Do you think for fetching water?


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

give us mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, roast potatoes, 

chips AND vodka. These other vegetables need to get their act 



TWO goats find a roll of celluloid film on a vacant lot in Hollywood. They munch 

away at it.

"Mmmmm, not bad,"says one.

"Not at all. But I think I preferred the book."

Last word

Wars teach us not to love our enemies, but to hate our allies. 

W L George

The Idler, Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Wearing of the green

WIT a shillelagh at me arm and a twinkle in me oi, Oi'll be off to Tipperary 

in de mornin' ... Yes, it's St Patrick's Day and all over the world dey'll be 

marchin' and dancin' and drinkin' Guinness and wearin' de green.

In Dublin dey'll have bands from America, Mexico, Germany and Ireland 

itself marchin' through de city.

In Chicago dey'll dye de river green for five hours.

In Boston – some call dis de real capital of Ireland – dey've got a surprise 

guest for St Patrick's Day. De mayor, Marty Walsh, is goin' to introduce 

what he calls de Boston Yeti.

Now a Yeti is de Abominable Snowman – we all know dat – but I suppose 

as long as he's wearin' de green it's okay.

In London dey'll be sellin' Irish breakfast - Guinness sausage, black puddin' 

and white puddin', all washed down with Guinness. Also Pie of the Week – 

steak and Guinness, washed down with Guinness.

Here in Durban dere'll be Irish dancers, pipers and Guinness at de 

Westville Club. Also de Blarney Brothers, black puddin' and Guinness at 

de Barnyard Theatre in Umhlanga. Ah, de Blarney Brothers. You could be 

back in Connemara.

And Cork – dear old Cork – dere dey'll be havin'Guinness, dey'll be singin' 

Irish Rover, De Leavin' of Liverpool and all de rest of de ould songs; dey'll 

be foightin' in de streets, foights movin' pub to pub.

What's dat you say? Dat happens every night in Cork? Well, dat's true but 

tonight dey'll be wearin' de green ...


INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener takes issue in his latest grumpy newsletter 

with the "stupid and pointless" argument about the race of shareholders on the JSE. 

"All kinds of folk have rushed into the fray waving calculators and data in support 

of their own view. The unexplained part is why or how anyone is able to issue any 

analysis broken down by skin colour. Even discarding for a moment the fact that very 

few shareholders are own name individuals, unless the JSE's client broker accounting 

systems have changed recently, there has never been a field to record the race of a 

stockbroker's client." 


ZOLTAN de Rosner, of Pennington, joins the chit-chat about round-the-
corner and barefoot kicking in rugby.

"It reminds me of an Under-19 curtain-raiser 

 between Transvaal and Natal shortly after the King's Park opening. 

"Transvaal were awarded a penalty on their 10-yard line (yes, yards in 

those days) and up stepped a short, stocky front row forward who heeled a 

hole in the pitch, placed the ball upright – as was the way in those days – 

then, to a huge chorus of oohs, aahs and laughing, sat down and removed his 

right boot.

"He then addressed the ball stepped back five paces and, trundling up, 

kicked it toe-first some 60 yards, right through the middle of the posts.

"The crowd erupted as he sat down, replaced his boot, got up and continued 

the game.

"I can't remember who won and I'm sure those of your readers who were 

there can't either."

Yes, it's not just Lusikisiki where everyone kicks barefoot. They're pretty 

hot on it in Bez Valley also.

Chick lit

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

literature? You mean cook books?"


AN IRISH scrumhalf is standing before the Pearly Gates. A voice booms: 

"Seamus O'Neill is there any sin you have not confessed?"

"Well yes, dere is, I'm ashamed to say. It was a Test match against England 

at Lansdowne Road. We were two points behind, almost on full time. Dere 

was a maul right on de English line. Den de ball just popped back sudden-

like. I went for it, round de side of de maul. I knocked it on very slightly but 

de ref was unsighted. I flung myself across de line. De try was awarded. 

We won de Six Nations. But I know it was a knock-on. It's always bin on my 


"Seamus O'Neill, that is no sin at all. You may enter.""

"Oh, tank you, St Peter, tank you!"

"It's St Peter's day off. Dis is St Patrick." 

Last word

The great Gaels of Ireland are the men that God made mad. For all their wars are merry, and 

all their songs are sad. - GK Chesterton

The Idler, Monday, March 16, 2015

This involved plot

LAST of the Summer Wine was a long-running British TV saga 

set in the Yorkshire village of Holmfirth. For 38 years its personal 

intrigue, drama and comedy kept people enthralled, not just in 

Britain but around the world. For 25 of those years Juliette Kaplan 

played the part of Pearl, the battleaxe Yorkshire lady in the beret 

and glasses.

Ee bah goom! A reet 'arridan that oon. As they say: "Yorkshire 

born, Yorkshire bred. Strong in arm, thick in 'ead."

Except that Juliette is anything but a harridan – she's bouncy, 

cheeky and full of fun. Not a trace of a Yorkshire brogue – she's an 

actress after all and can imitate just about anything – and in fact 

she was born in Bournemouth, Hampshire, and spent her early 

years in South Africa, in Port Elizabeth.

How she comes to be presently at the Oyster Box, in Umhlanga 

Rocks, is a tale as worthy in its intrigue and its twists and turns as 

anything in Last of the Summer Wine.

Juliette has a half-brother in Durban. Until 20 years ago, she was 

unaware of the existence of local businessman and former city 

councillor Laurie Kaplan. He was semi-aware of her existence from 

the time his dad showed him a newspaper photograph of British 

actress Juliette Kaplan and said she was probably his daughter.

Juliette's dad was a South African who married her mother in 

England. Juliette was born in 1939 and the family moved to Port 

Elizabeth just as World War II broke out (her dad was in the navy).

But the parents divorced when Juliette was three. She had her 

early schooling in Port Elizabeth until her mother took her to New 

York when she was about nine – "that was what moulded me" – 

then back to England where she studied drama and eventually 


Meanwhile, her dad had remarried without their knowing and 

raised another family, Laurie among them. A generation on and 

Laurie's daughter Lisa – a highly successful dancer who now 

lives in America – found herself in London, where she decided to 

pursue the legend of her actress aunt.

Through the actors' union, Equity, she got Juliette's telephone 

number and gave her a call.

"One evening I got this call absolutely out of the blue from this girl 

saying she thought she was my niece. Surprise is hardly the word. 

So I said: 'Well, you'd better come round', which she did. And half 

an hour later there she was sitting on the couch chatting to my 

two daughters, her cousins, as if they'd known each other all their 


"Lisa's a highly intelligent girl – quite unlike her dad, he radiates 

unintelligence – and I took to her right away.

"Next thing we phoned Laurie in Durban. His first words to me 

were: 'Thank God I'm not the eldest any more.'"

Juliette came on a visit with one of her daughters and the families 

clicked. She's been a regular visitor ever since.

"I'm absolutely in love with KwaZulu-Natal. I love my family here, 

I love all the people, I love the game parks and the animals. I love 

the sea (at 76 she's a keen snorkeler). I try to come out as often as 

I can."

This is the last of the summer tshwala.

At last!

GASP! At last they got it together. And in fine style. Most pleasing 

was the way the Sharks drove them back in the tackles. Also the 

quality of our rucking and mauling. And those driving mauls from 

the line-outs. Lovely stuff!

Then in the Six Nations an absolutely pulsating match between 

England and Scotland. The Scots at one stage seemed to have 

it in the bag – that would have been a turn-up for the books - 

but 'twas not to be.

And Wales beating Ireland, begorrah, indeed to goodness! 

England, Ireland and Wales now level-pegging. Pressure cooker 

stuff in the northern hemisphere. Roll on the World Cup!


"WHERE'S my SUNDAY paper?" It didn't get delivered."

"Ma'am, today is Saturday. The Sunday paper gets printed tonight and delivered 

tomorrow, on Sunday."

Long pause. Then: "Well, blow me down! That explains why there was no one at 

church either."

Last word

If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an 

apostrophe with fur. 

Doug Larson